Sigh. When your friend includes a weekend in Milan in her Christmas trip back to Europe (all the way from the Australian summer I might add), there are many things you hope to show her. Just how rainy Italy can be is not one of them.

Many people have been sending me messages of envy in the past couple of months, seemingly forgetting that Italy is in the same hemisphere as the UK and not actually that close the equator (at least not where I am). Whilst we don't have the same winds over here, the rain can still be pretty relentless and so we actually spent a rather large portion of this weekend in the house.

This was nice for me after having to cycle to work in the downpour during the week (it literally did not stop raining for seven days, not even for a minute) but we did manage to venture outside occasionally, even if this meant being showered in a curtain of puddle by passing motorists (the bastardi).

Saturday was spent having a delicious and healthy lunch at the Refettorio which I mentioned and misspelled in my last post. I love it there. They are even doing a cheese tasting night on my birthday (next Tuesday, 28th!) for €50 a head, including wine, ridiculously copious amounts of cheese and then a veggie buffet as always to make you feel better about yourself. I have mentioned this evening to Magro but as I found out last night that I have high cholesterol (!!! I am a 21 year old pescatarian who drinks soya milk, chooses the vegan option when possible, exercises every day, never smokes, hardly drinks and has a BMI of 21 !!!) I don't think we'll be going sob sob.

We had the primo menu which included: a nice big bread basket, unlimited selection of veg, beans, pulses, salad, fruit etc., unlimited water, unlimited wine, the most delicious risotto di zucca, chocolate cake and coffee.

Then we braved it in the rain with our lovely rainbow umbrella (which I waved quite drunkenly around) and found our way to the Natural History Museum or Museo di Storia Naturale.

It cost €1.50 to get in with our student cards (normal admission is €3) although they didn't actually check the cards so if you've got a young face like this cheeky guy it might be worth trying it out.

By the time we got there after our long lunch, we had 2 hours before the museum closed. I thought this would be enough. I was wrong. It was actually just enough to get round the upper floor which houses a delightful selection of stuffed animals.

I loved it. It was easily the best taxidermy collection I've ever seen. The animals are staged against painted back drops showing what their natural environments look like. Sure, some of them are probably a little dubious but it made for fabulous entertainment, especially when I found the llamas and when some of the critters had such brilliant facial expressions.

Although the monkeys could do with being remodelled a little so as not to instil nightmares in generations of children to come.

We also managed to whizz around the bottom floor ten minutes before closing so we could see all the pretty insects and butterflies (ahhh.)

That evening, we headed to Cafè Etniko near Parco Sempione for an aperitivo. Secondo me, this is the best place in Milan to go for an aperitivo. Happy hour costs €10 (€12 if you order your drink "big" or one of the cocktails that come in a pineapple or melon) and the selection of food is just brilliant. Grilled vegetables, salads, pasta, gnocchi, focaccia, polenta, tiramisù... it's very busy in there at the weekends so the buffet is always being refreshed with delicious food.

Of course we got really quite drunk (even Michele and Martina who aren't the most indulgent drinkers!) which wasn't helped when we went for beer afterwards, leading Michele to write a rather questionable letter to the Queen.

The next day it was pouring so we stayed in and made gnocchi (recipe to follow!) and cycled to piscina Cozzi 5 minutes away in the afternoon although this meant we were wetter on our return to the house than we had been on getting out of the pool.

And Monday? Well that was spent eating of course. Luini, Cioccolati italiani, Ciuri Ciuri, Piccola Ischia and Cioccolati italiani again (the marroni glassati is the most beautiful icecream ever, I had it on its own the second time because it was just too good, especially with melted milk chocolate in the cone)

I'm beginning to understand why my cholesterol is so high.