This morning we arrived in Milano (a little later than expected due to “complications” on our flight), and I was initially surprised when we left the airport in the bus at how people drove on the right side of the street just as we do in the US; the drivers were also seated on the same side of the car as we would be in the US. For some reason I thought they’d drive on the left side of the road as they do in England. I also took special notice of what kind of cars the Italians were driving on the highway and around Milan. They were mostly in Fiats, which is what I guessed they would drive before I left, but there were also just as many German cars represented. The German cars included Mercedes, Audi, and Volkswagen vehicles. There were some Japanese cars as well, but not nearly as many. I found this very interesting as Japanese cars seem to be predominantly driven in the US. Anyway, as we drove along the Italian highway, its infrastructure reminded me of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which I travel on frequently. It had two or three lanes, many exits and signs, and eventually had the cars pay a toll.
As we drove along the “Italian Turnpike,” I noticed the unique types of houses and apartments that lined it. They are similar to those found in Milan in that they were mostly bright colors (such as pink, yellow, orange, etc.) and they all had several balconies. I found it particularly beautiful that many of the balconies both along the highway and in the city had flowers or other plants on them for decoration. It really made me realize that I was finally in Italy after the long flight, as these buildings reminded me of what little I had previously known about the country. In contrast, houses in the US are usually more traditionally colored, bigger, and lack the character that the balconies and foliage provide the homes in Italy. They are practically opposites. Another huge and noticeable difference between the structures in Italy and those in the US is the relative size. Houses and restaurants are usually very large, in general, in the US. This makes sense, because the US has a vast amount of land compared to Italy. The Italian restaurant we ate at was very small compared to most American restaurants.
Another thing that I obviously noticed was the differences in fashion between the US and the people of Italy. Lately, I believe Americans have been leaning toward a more relaxed form of fashion, commonly called “streetwear.” This style is characterized by large sweatshirts, comfortable sweatpants, and sneakers. Italians have not adopted this style, and I believe it is because they simply do not want to. So far, I have observed that the people in Italy dress formally and trendy, and they seem to take pride in the way they look. I have much respect for this way of fashion and try to dress that way myself. However, despite this, I did notice many Italians wearing sneakers similar to how we do in the US, just in a more formal way (which was really cool to see). The fashion capital of the world has impressed me.
In conclusion, the welcome lunch we ate today was quite amazing. It started with bruschetta, which I have had at home before. The authentic Italian bruschetta, however, was so much better then any type I’ve ever had before. It was amazing to me how good tomatoes on a little piece of toasted bread could actually taste. They then brought out the bread (my personal favorite at any restaurant) and pasta with tomato sauce; needless to say you’ve never had pasta until you have actually eaten it at an Italian restaurant in Italy. Then, after we were all already full, the waiters brought out huge plates of various cooked meats. I am basically the opposite of a vegetarian, so I ate despite my full stomach. It was amazingly cooked meat; it reminded me of meat from a Brazilian restaurant in the US such as Texas de Brazil. I believe this meat was fresher and better cooked though. Obviously, each piece of this meal was more authentic and delicious than any of their comparable American counterparts, and it was a great way to start our trip. I finished my meal with a delicious cappuccino.