To continue our adventure in Italy, we began the day with a lesson in Italian language to help us navigate the many restaurants and coffee bars of the country. We learned phrases like “Bongiorno” and “buena sera” and when to use each. Likewise, we learned how to order at various establishments and how to address different members of Italian society.
Following the lesson, I ventured through the streets surrounding our hotel with three of my classmates. Not wanting to eat at another pricey restaurant, we decided to eat at a “hole-in-the wall” style place that served “Piadinas,” Mediterranean flatbread style sandwiches. We entered the authentic Italian restaurant, only to be greeted by a menu lacking an English translation. Luckily, the head chef recognized our lingual inexperience and helped us order our meals. Using the communication skills learned earlier in the day, we were able to navigate the restaurant dining experience with ease. As we exited, I watched the head chef cut the fresh prosciutto and place the cuts on the bread already simmering on the grill. This was first-hand proof of the fresh taste of the food here, and certainly a step up from the US restaurant style (sorry Subway).
After lunch, we returned to the hotel, only to be immediately greeted by our tour guide for the day handing us headsets. The streets of Milan suddenly came alive with the descriptions and historical references that she made. Yesterday, I mentioned being enamored by the buildings that swelled with trees. Today, I learned these are called “vertical gardens,” one of the cities latest attempts to move towards a more sustainable and healthy environment. This is one of the more fascinating differences I have seen thus far, as I have yet to hear about anything like this in any US cities. After about an hour of exploring, we finally saw the famous Duomo of Milan that proved infinitely more breathtaking than in the pictures. Our tour guide explained to us that as Milan began to grow more and more modern, it had trouble keeping its buildings below the height of the Duomo to keep in line with religious customs. I found it charming when she explained that, in order to cater to both Milan’s growing industry and its religious roots, it allowed the removal of the original statue on top of the Duomo to be moved to the top of the current tallest building. Thus constituted a tradition of moving the famous statue to the top of each skyscraper that surpassed the height of the previous tallest in the city to hold on to both religious tradition and business maturation. All in all a great day in Milan! Can’t wait for tomorrow!!