My fifteen hour layover in Milano was a bonus I never planned for, but eagerly pounced upon when I saw the option. Plus I quite prefer overnight transit whenever it’s an option. It’s awfully nice to wake up and be at your destination (works better when you can actually score some sleep, though). Since I had been nothing but smitten by any of the other Italian cities I’ve been to, I had high expectations for my time in Milano. Maybe it was the monkey’s fist in my stomach, still clenching tight, but the whole day left me disappointed.
If you took Manhattan’s fifth avenue and turned it into a city, but quainter and – well – more Italian, that’s Milano. Price tags kept the city’s cultural accessibility at a look but don’t touch distance for a shoestring budget traveler like myself. Even the McDonald’s was outrageously priced – not that I would have eaten at a McDonalds otherwise…
Strike that. I take back my Manhattan comparison; Milano is obviously more like a tiny Italian Paris. Each lovely building shoulders the next at a strictly uniformed height and they’re all dressed in their finest architectural accoutrements. This comparison is a lot more flattering, but still the city’s painterly allure wasn’t enough to satisfy me. The people there didn’t have that famous Italian heat, and the city wasn’t very welcoming to backpack style travelers.
I did, however, eat Milano’s centerpiece right up. The Duomo Cathedral is absolutely wonderful and inimitable in its loveliness. Winding through the flamboyantly flying buttresses on the roof while the sounds of a Napoleon era brass marching band drifted up from the square gave me a taste of the magic I had come to expect from Italy.
Peculiarly, I’m finding that the farther I come along in editing my photos, my memory of my day in Milano loses its ashy bitterness and instead beings to glow with a warm rosiness to it. Perhaps I in fact hate traveling, but only think I enjoy it as time passes and the fallacies of nostalgia do their handiwork on my memory. If that’s the case, then… I’ve made a huge mistake.