Fashion is raging here in Italy right now with the start of Milan Fashion Week. Cities around the world are staging their own massive showcases of the latest moda, London prominently displaying bursts of color and vibrant sprays of feathers and fur, Milan parading the knit woolen parkas and high-heeled boots of winter time. This past weekend I was lucky enough to give Milan a bit of a run through, even though my friend Daniel and I really only had about five hours to do the city.
Day started at 6:00AM. Despite waking up on weekdays at the usual 7:30, that 1.5 hour difference nearly killed me. The ways of the college student demand being at least conscious at 2AM, so I think I only had about four hours of sleep that day, maybe a little less. Regardless, the train ride from Florence to Milan took nearly four hours due to delays, so I got plenty of sleep in before we made it to the city. Daniel managed to sleep some, too, though I think I got the most of it. I’ve always been able to sleep well in moving vehicles. Save planes. Planes are weird.
Milan was much more industrialized than I thought it would be. Granted, I hadn’t know that it was the industrial capital of Italy before I got there, so in hindsight the numerous plants and gaping steel wiring that seemed to be everywhere isn’t so strange. The contrasts between Milan and Florence were nearly staggering. Florence just seems to have a much more relaxed air to it. Not in so much of a rush. Of course, the crowds could definitely be attributed to Fashion Week craze, and when Daniel and I were spat out of the metro at the foot of the massive white cathedral, we were nearly run over by a gaggle of painted ladies dressed to their ears in animal print. I’ll admit, I was sporting a pair of snake-skin print jeans too…
Daniel and I wandered into the high-end shopping district, completely aware that everything would be well above our practical price range. Try as I might, I could never justify buying a purse of any brand for more than 30€, and even that price is pushing it. When the Gucci and Prada bags are going for at least 300€ for a decent sized one, I’d rather buy that military-style trench I’ve been eyeing at Zara for the past couple of days… Hmm… Of course, looking at everything was fun, and we discovered that Gucci has made a foray into the realm of chocolate. The guard kicked us out before we managed to get a picture of the gourmet, “G”-stamped bars. I bet Milka tastes better.
After a bit more trawling of the likes of Louis Vuitton and Swarovski, we stumbled upon a side alley that led to one of the many public fashion shows set up around the city. We managed to get some seats (but no goodie bags, since those were for the lucky ones who registered) and saw a showing for Paolo Casalini. Have no idea who he is, but his clothes were cute and as usual the models all looked the same but distantly gorgeous.
The show lasted hardly twenty minutes. I’m not sure if that’s average length, since one can only design so many outfits before repeats start showing up on the runway, but it seemed as if we were walking away from the piazza just moments after we’d sat down to watch. Regardless, it was awesome and I now get to say that I’ve seen a fashion show in Milan during Fashion Week. Shortly after leaving the venue, Daniel and I stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall bakery teeming with Italians, all squabbling for a place in line and shouting back and forth between each other, obviously regulars for the lunch rush. Not about to let an opportunity pass, we shoved our way inside and snagged ourselves some dessert calzone stuffed with peaches, almonds, and ammaretti. Didn’t think to take a picture, and they were gone by the time I remembered that I actually owned a camera.
We had about an hour before we had to catch our train back to Florence, so we decided to head into the Duomo and get some photos with our newly fostered knowledge of the manual setting on our SLR cameras. The white spires cut starker lines than the generous curve of Florence’s domed cathedral, but it suits Milan’s sharp and modern splendor, though the inside looked like every other cathedral I’ve ever seen. Having seen many cathedrals, I’m still awed by the magnificent architecture and the sheer magnitude of their age. These things have been standing for hundreds of years, some not even fully completed yet, and previously without the use of mechanical cranes or other modern technologies. I learned recently that the Florentine Duomo’s dome was built prior to its being placed on the actual church. I can’t imagine how they could have done it.
Milan was an experience, and I’m glad I went even for such a short time. I want to go back to see the Last Supper fresco, but I’ve got a while left yet. I can’t believe that I haven’t even been here in Florence for a month yet. Granted, it’s been a while since being in the continental US, but I still feel like I just got here. The workload isn’t heavy, so it doesn’t really feel like school, just an extended vacation with a bit of side-study. We’ll see how things pick up around midterms. I recently discovered George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” series, including the HBO adaptation of “Game of Thrones,” and I’m hoping that will keep me occupied for a while. It’s been so long since I’ve read a good book series!
Food Paper Topic: Blood Wars Paid in Chocolate AND Modern Science and Cooking. I’ve been given leave to write them both, though only one will count for credit. My prof said he’d be a bit more interested in the Chocolate one, which I’m pretty okay with, seeing as I have the International Chocolate Festival in Perugia coming up in a few weeks and my subscription to Harvard’s YouTube channel just popped up a lecture on “The Many Faces of Chocolate.” Signs? Oh, yes.