After what felt like a marathon of a flight to Milan, we have finally made it and I could not be more excited! From the airport, we took a bus to our hotel, and right off the bat, you could tell that, well, we weren’t in the U.S. anymore.
The roads our bus was travelling on felt narrower than our wide highways at home, and honestly, the quality of roads and infrastructure were of a higher quality than that of the U.S.’s. Looking around at the buildings that we passed, there seemed to be no one uniform design of buildings, even with the ones right next to each other. Some had a modern look to them with their sharp angles and concrete make up, while others had an older appearance of a villa to them, with more a more crafted look to the outside brick, tile, and plaster. Furthermore, buildings that were right next to each other might use completely different colors of brick, making every building we passed unique from the last, contrasting with our sometimes cookie cutter methods of constructing buildings in cities. Having made our way into the actual city, we dropped off our things and headed on a walk to lunch, providing a more up close look at our surroundings. One major aspect that seemed to differ from a U.S. city was its friendliness and respect for bicycles. Both sides of the roads we walked on featured a nicely paved, red colored lane for bikers that was completely separated from the main road for motor vehicles. It was nice to see a place where cyclists and other vehicles didn’t necessarily have to fight for the same space as in some cities in the States.
Coming to the end of our walk, it was time to eat, and I could not have hoped for a better first meal. At the restaurant called Quaranta Pizza e Cucina, we sat down at our table, and were met with some delicious appetizers of breads with different toppings on them, either tomato, onion, or olive. When we all ordered water for our drinks, it became apparent that they did not serve regular tap water in restaurants as in the States. Instead, we were each handed a bottle of water and a glass. This raises some questions to me that I will have to pursue, such as whether the tap water here in Italy is safe, or if this is simply a customary thing to do for restaurants. Not too long after our drinks were served, plates of pasta were brought out in front of each of us for what we thought was the main course of our lunch. With pasta being one of the dishes Italy is recognized most for, I had high expectation. I was not disappointed in the least. The pasta itself was actually different any I had had before in the States, as it was not quite as cooked as the pasta served back home. It had a much more “toothsome” texture to it, not being as soft as what I had come to expect. After the delicious pasta dish, I honestly thought we were just waiting for the tab to be paid before we left. I couldn’t have been more wrong apparently. To our surprise, waiters brought out huge plate to the middle of our tables. On theses plates was more meat than I think that I could eat in a week. There were all different types, such as ribs, steak, sausage, and chicken. All around were confused, though happy, faces, and I could tell that this course style meal had all brought us some surprise. Needless to say, we all left the restaurants with more than reasonably full stomachs.
Becoming more accustomed to the sights of the city, my focus on the walk back shifted to the people that we walked past. Something that immediately became apparent was that no matter how old these people were or what gender, every one that we walked past seemed to have a certain style to their clothes, showing that there was definite thought put into their outfits. One sight that I will not soon forget was this smaller child, of maybe 6 years, wearing a camouflage print vest, and salmon colored pants with solid blue shoes on. Topping this all off with a small, gelled up mohawk, I don’t think I had ever seen a kid in the U.S. having paid this much attention to style, at least at that age. I know I didn’t at least.
With just the first few hours bringing this many interesting contrasts between Italy and the U.S. in terms of culture, I am sure to find more as this trip progresses, and I can’t wait to see what comes next! I’ll be sure to keep you posted!