Then and now there's a big part of me that never wanted to make it back to Milano (I mean, so soon?!?) like a summer camp gone too long when your own bed sounds great but waking up for the school bus might as well be an ice pick in the abdomen.
Speaking of ice picks...Milano might as well be Chicago. Right down to the graffiti:
Furthermore, they're both the second largest city in their country and quasi-equidistant from the east and west coast...and their fashions are more similar than I'd expected. When you hear about Milano, you hear about the fashion capital of Italy. To a certain extent, I can understand Vans and Converse being popular but Ralph Lauren and Carhart? These are brands I wore in high school…in central Illinois…in the '80's. Maybe my sense of fashion has regressed so much since my move to Santa Cruz that I can't leave my over-priced rental bungalow without an Independent beanie and a flannel … still, Carhart? We used to wear this brand when we knew it was going to get dirty (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter) also not like some cheap porn remake of "Duck Dynasty" where "Dynasty" is the name of the lone female star and she, well, ducks...um, nevermind. We'd wear Carhart's pheasant hunting through the mud and brush of freezing wet farmlands and Polo shirts were relegated to picture day if you didn't want to lose your lunch money in the hallway. You know how worked up I get over fashion as I sit here typing in my flannel and beanie listening to the rain.
A slight flashback here (not the really fun kind but sort of fun)…my flight into Malpensa Airport outside of Milan got in late morning on the 2nd of October. After two hours of bumbling around a mostly deserted terminal building I caught a shuttle bus to Milano Centrale. There I boarded a crowded Metro and me too new and, I guess, embarrassed like the embarrassment of getting a better grade than anyone in the class type of embarrassment (I don't get that kind of embarrassed often) to go with the front and back pack so I held my day pack amidst the jostle of people entering and exiting the train like it was rush hour but it was still early afternoon. Did I mention the Italian unemployment rate? They report 12.8%, probably closer to or over 20%, and I think they were all on the Metro that day watching me sweat nervously as I fought to process the conflagration of emotion and expectation.
One smart thing I did at the airport was get a free street map of Milano (I won't get into all the stupid shit I did there, it would take a whole nother post) and I promptly encountered a roundabout. If I had to assign a generalized description of Italy it would be: The Land of Roundabouts and Cranes. The former were a bustle of beguiling activity while the latter sat motionless, stalled projects of civil dis-service. Actually, the next picture is at the Piazza XXIV Maggio right down the street from where I stayed (thanks, again, Malcolm and Ricardo and of course I forget the girl's name).
The next morning felt like that first day of summer camp when everything is disorienting and you kinda wish you were still at home...except at home you'd be listening to the farm report on the radio with a cheez whiz sandwich catatonically looking out the window to a backyard so familiar your childish imagination strains to re-create it into something recreational for the long hot day ahead. If you never leave your comfort zone, you never have lunch sitting on a stone curb looking out over a piazza peopled by strange passer-bys munching a panini and coming to terms with foreign beauty in all its permutations.
Pigeons of Jah
The duomo in Milano is serious stuff. You walk around the building scanning the stories attested in statues struggling to make sense of its conception and development. Of course, it is constantly under development. If remodels are your thing, then Italy is a gold mine. The duomo is one anchor (like a Monkey Ward in a shopping center) of a tourist hub that includes the Urban Center with its bistros and boutiques (some of which must've been Italian) and down a narrow street to the Castello Sforezco with its museums and peaceful open-air interludes--this one reminded me a lot of an old college complex I worked at on the riviera in Santa Barbara.
I can't recommend enough the walk from the duomo to the castello, through the park with its sculptures, sport courts, playgrounds, even a racetrack or two, until eventually you reach the Arca Della Pace.
I really wish I had more room to share the great photos and stories of both my trips through the city. During my exit stay, I viewed the "The Last Supper" and all I can say is there would be a lot more food and wine and a lot less whispering in each other's ears at my last supper--jug wine, racks of ribs, bawdy laughter. The tour itself was an experience in modern security that made me feel like a rat in a lab being given a nibble of greatness just to see if my hair would fall out or in the case of the multiple hermetically sealed staging areas, which of us rats would get the last good gasp of air.
There may be a few appendices coming for old times' sake, not to be confused with appendicitis, and hopefully a lot less painful. Grazie, grazie ya'll for sharing my trip... and a (hearty) buongiorno to you, sir! (and signoras!)