The first day in Milano was definitely an eye opening one. After getting little sleep the night before, and then having to sit through an eight hour flight following an hour and a half delay due to a fellow passenger getting violently sick right before take off, we finally made it into the Milano airport. After we all packed up onto a bus we set off to find our hotel for the next few days. The drive itself actually reminded me a lot of the roads back home. We would pass areas that were nice and clean with houses close together in a community. On the other hand, however, we would also pass areas with boarded up windows and broken down buildings. All of these were separated by fences and walls, just like I would see driving down the high way near my home.
The hotel itself also differed heavily from what I’m used to in the United States. The first major difference was the elevators. The elevators were much smaller than I was ever used to, being that they could barely fit eight people, and the floors themselves started at zero and went up and even down into negative numbers. Normally, the floors would either start at one or go up or they would begin at the floor labeled “L” for lobby and would go up or even down sometimes to “B” for basement. The set up of the room itself was also a big change. The beds themselves were much smaller than those I was used to staying in. They were extremely comfortable, however, but whether this was due to my sheer exhaustion at that point is still up for debate. To add to the differences, I spend about five minutes trying to figure out how to close the sliding door of the shower before I realized that it didn’t close and one end remained open, which resulted in my clothes on the floor receiving a few rain showers.
Almost immediately after dropping out luggage off at the hotel we were off again to stop for lunch. The lunch was very surprising to me for multiple reasons. The first being we were never handed any menus. There were already appetizers sitting on the table when we arrived, but we never ordered any of the food itself. I’m sure that our host ordered us general dishes, however. The first thing we ate was pasta. While I am normally not a very big fan of pasta in a meat sauce, this dosh was incredible. Everything was prepared so well that I could help but love it. After myself and my fellow travel abroaders (probably not a word) had filled up on the pasta, the waiters proceeded to bring out three large trays piled high with all different sorts of meat. These selections included large helpings of chicken, sausage, steak, and ribs (all of which were delicious). It was almost comical seeing the pained faces of everyone around me as they tried to keep eating because they didn’t want to let food go to waste (we didn’t finish half of it).
After we all basically rolled out of the restaurant, our guides through ISA took us on a tour of the area near our hotel. One of the first things I noticed was the incredible architecture on most of the buildings we passed. Also, compared to the United States, the roads were much narrower. Along with these roads of course came the classical architecture. While many cities in the United States have old architecture in them, Italy’s classical architecture has a style all its own. The villa style of houses and their porches gives the Italian streets a colorful, tropical feel.
One thing that I found very surprising was the large concentration of graffiti everywhere. In America, graffiti is seen as a sign of a bad area or gangs. In Italy, however, graffiti is a way that young kids can get their creativity out and customize the area that they live in. These graffiti paintings covered many walls and covered many different paintings from names/slogans to paintings of faces and animals. So this difference is starting because they represent complete opposite ends of the spectrum.