Day 419 Milano
Beware the ladies in the metro! Well, any group who is over eager to assist you in buying a ticket. You'll see this all across Europe - where ticket counters are being reduced and machines are replacing them which makes it ideal real estate for people to 'kindly', and often unwarrantedly, help you buy a ticket and then ask for money. I've seen it in many counties but this was the first time they flat out took my change from the machine. Playing on your emotions and reliance of peoples insecurities towards confrontation, it's a pretty good business for them; but not this day - I'm on a tight budget and need the brass. I can understand if you're on the breadline and truly need the money, but this was a well organised racket. Guilt is among the worst emotions and to harness it for personal gain is terrible.
Aside from the shakedown, I had a wonderful day in the city. The architecture truly is magnificent and the cathedral's exterior is unlike any I have ever seen - and I've been to a lot of pious places.
Pietro's father, Roberto, made simple fried pizzas; they were divine. Just a little tomato sauce, mozzarella and a single basil leaf - delicious. Joined by a few more friends, we played poker through the night on Pietro's long dining table; there were wisps of smoke fluttering around the lamp overhead, originating from Roberto's guests' cigarette.
P.S. The extortionists lost and my pockets jingled all the way to the carriage.