Subject: Recent trip to Italy: Dolce (Milan--semi-long)
In the past, we had stayed at the beautiful but somewhat out of the way Hotel Antares Rubens. This time, we stayed at the Mennini, which is a block away from the Stazione Centrale. It was a little less posh, and the area has some unique entertainment (drug addicts shooting up in the park and some of the world's ugliest hookers a block away), but we enjoyed it and would return even with these negatives since they did not impact us personally. We enjoyed dining al fresco at a nearby pizzeria We have already mentioned the high point of this part of our trip, which would have been the high point of the whole trip if our daughter had not had to return to Germany two days earlier. That was the get together with Marco de Angeli and Simone Riela. Excuse the puns on their last names-this was truly an evening for both the angels and reality. We ate at a ristorante in the outskirts that I could not find by myself in a million years, but the dinner was delicious-almost as much as the companionship. We also went to Lake Como, which was nearly as spectacular as Ischia and Capri. Incidentally, if you are going there for the first time, the train lets you off a modest distance from the Lake. When you get to the lake, various helpful souls will try to hustle you into their boat (one wanted to charge $60 for an hour tour!). There is a boat that makes about six stops which will cost about $5-$10. It was a bargain. We had a light, but pleasant lunch at the Volta Caffé. Our last full day was a Sunday. Thanks to Simone and her friends, we learned of a flea market in an area of Milan that has the closest it gets to a river (like Dallas, where we live, Milan is a rarity in that it is not on a major body of water). We had hoped to see Da Vinci's Last Supper, but were unsuccessful. They also told us something quite useful-there is a supermarket in the Stazione Centrale where we bought various goodies for our friends as cheaply, if not cheaper than at the airport duty free shop. We left Italy, :>(, and cleared customs in New York before going back to DFW Airport. Incidentally and in response to a thread on the old Travel-L, we had no different treatment from Customs in New York than elsewhere. They were nice in all places. In fact, they were especially nice in pointing out an error I made in not declaring that we were bringing back an animal (our daughter's dog), which was buried in a long list of questions. BTW, we did declare our overage (as another incidental point, why has the US exemption remained the same for at least 30 years?) and paid the duty on it.

Ira H. Bernstein