We spent the night at the little village of Casina, about sixteen miles from Milan, and here made our first experience in the honesty of Italian inns. We had taken the precaution to inquire beforehand the price of a bed; but it seemed unnecessary and unpleasant, as well as evincing a mistrustful spirit, to do the same with every article we asked for, so we concluded to leave it to the host’s conscience not to overcharge us. Imagine our astonishment, however, when at starting, a bill was presented to us, in which the smallest articles were set down at three or four times their value. We remonstrated, hut to little purpose; the fellow knew scarcely any French, and we as little Italian, so rather than lose time or temper, we paid what he demanded and went on, leaving him to laugh at the successful imposition. The experience was of value to us, however, and it may serve as a warning to some future traveler.
About noon, the road turned into a broad and beautiful avenue of poplars, down which we saw, at a distance, the triumphal arch terminating the Simplon road, which we had followed from Sesto Calende. Beyond it rose the slight and airy pinnacle of the Duomo. We passed by the exquisite structure, gave up our passports at the gates, traversed the broad Piazza d’Armi, and found ourselves at liberty to choose one of the dozen streets that led into the heart of the city.
Aug. 21.—While finding our way at random to the “Pension Suisse,” whither we had been directed by a German gentleman, we were agreeably impressed with the gaiety and bustle of Milan. The shops and stores are all open to the street, so that the city resembles a great bazaar. It has an odd look to see blacksmiths, tailors and shoemakers working unconcernedly in the open air, with crowds continually passing before them. The streets are filled with venders of fruit, who call out the names with a long, distressing cry, like that of a person in great agony. Organ-grinders parade constantly about and snatches of songs are heard among the gay crowd, on every side.