Friday, June 21, 2013

Re-Remembering Milan & Other Italian Items of Note (or Not) Upon Reentry

You want pictures but it's all poetry. The proper effect should be that, however. To help you imagine...

Fuso orario. I never seem to remember how jet lag feels. We left Hotel Astoria by cab at 5:30 AM, departed San Francisco International Airport at around 8:30 AM and landed on the East Coast at Newark Liberty International Airport at approximately 4:30 PM. Wandering around, we spent the last of our US dollars during the two hours before boarding another plane for the seven-hour journey to Milan.

In boca al lupo... In the mouth of the wolf... Guarding our luggage in the new straw fedora I picked up in San Francisco and waiting for Angela to return with tickets, an exasperated white-haired woman wearing thick glasses in an over-sized black-and-white Keith Harring-esque blouse and wheeling her carry-on through the station asks me if I know how to tell which platform by looking at the ticket. "I don't know," I say, trying to look at the ticket in her hand. "It should say 'bin' or 'binario' somewhere," I add. She snaps back with "I know. Io parlo italiano," and stomps off. She inquires at the ticket window and passes by me on her way to the elevator down to the platforms looking much more informed. I say "good luck" instead of one of the Italian expressions that I know.

Graffiti. On the train from Milan's Malpensa Airport to Milano Centrale Train Station, I can't help but notice the splendid graffiti—not just tags, but real art. The countryside is nice and green and yellow, too. I joke that it looks like California. Vito notices that many of the buildings are old, which is his overall general assessment of Italy. It's a lengthy but smooth trip. After arriving, we take a taxi to Libeccio, our bed & breakfast for the next few days. The pictures on their website do it justice. There are two rooms—one for Angela, Vito and me, and one for my parents when they arrive—and we have the place to ourselves.

. All the little rectangular kick-stand depressions in the sidewalks from motorcycles and Vespas.

Lecca-lecca. A little too early for lunch so we three stop in a neighborhood shop for beverages in the humid late morning, and drink them at a sidewalk table, killing time and sinking into Italia. Angela orders a little bottle of cedrata and Vito drinks a can of San Pellegrino Aranciata. It is almost impossible for me to continue without sleep, but an energy drink revives me sufficiently while the proprietor (we are his only customers) regales us with stories about how the neighborhood used to be and offers Vito a sucker. The energy drink revives me enough to carry me through lunch and the welcome nap that follows.

Aperitivo. Rested and re-energized after sleep and shower, we leave the B&B to meet our friends for dinner. It's a long walk and a refreshing rain falls intermittently. We stop at a sidewalk bar and order drinks: beer for me, Fanta for Vito, and Crodino for Angela. We watch the people come and go and nibble on olives and prosciutto. It doesn't rain hard and eventually stops altogether.