Milan: an apology

by Alexandra


Some people are Naples snobs. You know the ones I mean – people who have been once, briefly (or never been at all), and hate it. “Ugh, Naples. It’s so dirty, chaotic and crime-ridden.” I’m definitely not one of those people.

I was, however, a Milan snob. I had never been, but I was sure I would hate it. “Ugh, Milan. It’s so clean, orderly and boring. Full of stuck-up, well-dressed northerners. Like a less interesting version of London, with a similarly depressing climate. Probably.”

I spent a brief weekend in Milan, and I feel I owe the city an apology.

Mi dispiace, Milano. I only got to spend a few hours exploring your streets (most of my time was spent with Valeriano’s friends in the nearby town of Carate Brianza for a surprise birthday party), but you were much better than I’d expected.

Milan does feel clean and orderly, at least compared to Rome (and even more so compared to Naples), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The colours and the sense of space reminded me of non-Italian cities such as London, Paris and Vienna. It seems more functional, more prosperous. No, it doesn’t have the charm and character of the cities I love most – the sun-soaked, crazy, ancient cities that seem to be on the verge of collapse – but it’s still a pleasant place to visit. More beautiful than I expected, too. I saw plenty of attractive architecture, and there’s lots of greenery. I also liked the fact that it was lively. Not as lively as Naples, but with much more of a buzz than Florence, for example.

We went for a lengthy walk around the city centre – the area with all the designer shops, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the Duomo. Although a few hours is clearly not enough to do justice to the city, it was enough to give me a taste for more. I’ll be back.

I was even pleasantly surprised by the pizza. Living in Rome and making regular trips to Naples, I have very high standards when it comes to pizza. Northern Italy is not renowned for its pizza, but the takeaway pizza we had in Carate Brianza was delicious (and enormous). After pizza we played Time’s Up- a game similar to Taboo, where you have to describe famous people for the rest of your team to guess. (“Principessa. Inglese. Incidente“) Quite challenging to play in a foreign language when you’re absolutely exhausted (from hours of train travel, walking, and constant socialising). But overall, it was a great weekend.

You can get the train from Rome to Milan with Trenitalia or Italo. The journey takes 3-3.5 hours, with prices starting at €39.50 one way. (Incidentally, Milano Centrale puts Roma Termini to shame. It’s a bit like comparing a cathedral to a public toilet).