Although yesterday was very exciting, I felt significantly more prepared for the day today after getting a full night’s sleep. The morning began with my very first Italian breakfast, the highlight of which was a Nutella-filled croissant.
The first activity was an “Italian Crash Course” which was language-focused but addressed other general important cultural differences. For instance, tipping and splitting bills are uncommon practices that may be frowned upon or looked at as strange. This information proved crucial as we were free for lunch on our own. We had margherita pizza and antipasti of fried pizza knots, the best mozzarella I’ve ever had, and vegetables like spinach.
I attempted to use my new Italian vocabulary, but I ended up responding “no” to “buon appetito,” suggesting that I did not appreciate the waiter’s wishes for us to enjoy our meal. This misunderstanding greatly embarrassed me at first but by the end of lunch I was laughing about it with the waiters. Through this encounter, I understood how easily communication flubs can occur even in simple circumstances. Thankfully, this was the only incident of its kind.
My favorite part of the day was the Milan walking tour. We were first led from our hotel through a modern area of office buildings, shops, restaurants, and an arena focused on sustainability. Specifically, in the center of an outdoor fountain area there was a “solar tree” which serves both decorative and functional purposes: at night, it is a lamp powered by the solar energy absorbed during the day. Aside from this, we learned that the entire center is nearly self-sustainable. I know that sustainability is an increasingly important issue, so it was fascinating to see it emphasized in practice.
Another awesome part of the tour was the Corso Como, a shop filled with high fashion, books, and other art. This was one of my first glimpses into the shopping scene here in Milan, and it was all so beautiful and clearly well-made. Seeing the various shops, it was easy to understand how this area alone makes up ten percent of Italian GDP.
Our final, and arguably the most beautiful, stops on the walking tour were the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Duomo. The Galleria offers the first-ever Prada store, a Versace store, and a gelateria, among other restaurants and boutiques. It is by far the most stunning shopping mall I’ve ever seen. The Duomo of Milan is the city’s cathedral, incredibly detailed and equally beautiful. We stayed in this area for the rest of the evening to get food and walk around. Since I am heading to 7 A.M. mass in the Duomo tomorrow morning, I better get some rest but check back tomorrow for updates! Ciao 🙂