Day five was extremely long but so worth it. In the morning, we went to the Starbucks in Milan. This isn’t just any Starbucks, but a beautiful old post office that was refurbished into a massive roastery. Because the Italian people were resistant to the idea of a Starbucks infiltrating their sit down and relax cafe culture, Starbucks put significant resources into the research and development of its first location in Italy. They made sure to incorporate pieces of Italy’s most important landmarks, such as a floor from the same material used in the Duomo. They also employed some of Italy’s most prominent designers in creating the building. This idea of involving local people in the project seemed genius to me. It made Starbucks seem less like a foreign invasion on cafe culture, and more like a company that will employ many and refurbish an unused building. While I don’t particularly enjoy coffee, the experience itself was incredible. The entire group agreed that it was the Willy Wonka Chocolate factory of Starbucks. With giant roastery equipment and a massive copper silo to store the beans, I was waiting for the Oompa Loompas to emerge. I think every Starbucks in the United States that I come across will be a disappointment because truly none can compare to this one. A worker prepared a coffee tasting for us, but even the beautiful atmosphere couldn’t make coffee not gross.
Afterwards, our group headed to the Armani Museum. This place was truly spectacular. The pieces took my breath away, so much so that I think I might have teared up a little. It’s one thing to see celebrities via internet on the red carpet in Armani, but in person is completely different. Being able to appreciate the detail and hours of work that went into each piece gave me a new appreciation for luxury fashion. Our tour guide explained that Armani wanted to create this museum to help young people make it in fashion, as he found it to be an extremely difficult climb to the top. I found this attitude to be refreshing in today’s often cut-throat business atmosphere. It’s great that Armani wanted to help others get to where he is today rather than protect his position on top by keeping his secrets hidden. This man seems truly incredible. He is 84 years old and still works twelve hour work days. Obviously he has enough money to retire and live comfortably, but he keeps going because he is so passionate, which is rare to find. It must be a true privilege to work in a job that one never wants a vacation from.
After this long day, my friend Elizabeth and I experienced our first cannoli in Italy. I ate it so slowly to savor every bite. It was so incredible and fresh, unlike the typical cannoli in the United States. We already plan on going back for more. We then had to run to the Duomo to make our 6 p.m. entrance time for the Duomo. We thought we had bought tickets for both the roof and the inside of the cathedral, but unfortunately we could only go onto the roof. The views of Milan from above were breathtaking. As someone afraid of heights, it was a bit too high up for comfort, but the views were definitely worth it.