If you request a casual Uber ride and a brand new Mercedes with an intelligent, fancy, and fully dressed driver arrives to pick you up, then you are definitely in Milan.
My impressions of the world’s fashion capital can be described in two words: very ambiguous.
As for the city itself? One word: anthill.
Prior to our arrival in Milan, we had already spoiled ourselves with the gastronomic wonders of Rome (on a previous trip) and with the peculiar charm of Bari, so we had the following expectations from Milan: delicious Italian food, nice neighborhoods for walks, and the delight of everything I had associated with Italy. However, Milan was quite unlike what I had pictured; it very much had its own character.
Our guidelines for finding accommodation were simple:
- Less expensive than Bergamo
- Close to the center
Our result: Hotel Astrid.
I would give this hotel a 7 out of 10.
Our relationship with the hotel management was negative from the moment of our arrival. The check-in time, shown on Booking.com, did not correspond to reality, so we had to wait about an hour for them to prepare the room.
The hotel itself looked more like a casual place to crash in between days of sightseeing: there was no elevator, the lobby area doubled as its dining area, and there was no fridge in our room. However, for a hotel in Milan the price was quite low, and it did, in fact, correspond with our requirements- thus, we were more satisfied than dissatisfied with our choice.
To our relief, the sun was smiling down at us and shining brightly! This was the most pleasing part of Milan, for after more than two weeks spent under umbrellas and wrapped in jackets, I was finally able to wear dresses and to enjoy the sun!
As for the city, I am still impressed by the lush balcony gardens of the city houses and by the magnificent architecture of the Duomo and the Gallery.
On the first day, we miscalculated the size of the city and walked for roughly 15 kilometers, eventually having to give up and take a bus back to our hotel; when I think about it now, I laugh through tears in my eyes. Also with warmth in my heart, I remember watching films in a half-empty movie theater, the wonderful and mouthwatering lasagna at the local restaurants, the huge 30-centimeter glasses with Negroni at Bar Basso, and, I am still in shock at how jam-packed the streets were with cars, motorcycles, and bicycles (not to mention the morning rush hour with rows of motorcycles stopped at traffic lights and bicycles with baby strollers attached winding between cars).
However, I need to mention the alternate side of our Milan trip…
Walking through the city center during the day hours reminded me of a hectic rush hour on a subway, and in the evenings we were constantly looking around and feeling very much on our toes, as we had absolutely no sense of security. As well, I was dissatisfied with Eataly, as the range of products were not near as diverse as they were in Rome.
In fact, Milan seemed to be more of a tourist mecca than a city for living. The phrase, “to visit the city and want to live there forever” didn’t quite resonate with me here. Taking this into consideration, there are two reasons I would purposefully go to Milan: either for sightseeing, or fashion shopping.
Perhaps even those who have never been to Milan, at the mention of this city, subconsciously associate it with images of trendy boutiques, well-dressed men, and (sometimes far too) stylish interiors. In my case, Milan unsurprisingly struck the chord of my hidden love for fashion and design, given that as a child I was fond of creating albums with fashion designs, and that two of my closest relatives were directly linked to the textile industry. In this way, as with the case of Switzerland, my impressions I received from Milan really stood out to me.
Upon leaving, with my creativity ignited, I promised myself to learn to paint with watercolors, complete a couple of online courses in fashion design, and maybe even study for a semester or two in Milan. That would be quite a radical change in freelance work, wouldn’t it?
In grand conclusion:
After our 21-day trip, I would most definitely say that such trips are a must. They act as a sobering factor- reconnecting you and allowing you to not only see the world, but to also see your life from a different perspective, perhaps nudging you to make qualitative changes in your daily routine.
In other words, we are now hoarding money for our next 3-week grand trip. 🙂