What’s Better Than This?

Over 22000 steps today. I started checking my iPhone’s health app since we walk so much throughout the city. It’s amazing to see how many miles upon miles we walk, and it actually makes me feel better about eating so much pasta and gelato. Today the group started off at the Starbucks Reserve in Milan’s city center, near the Duomo. This specific Starbucks was the first in all of Italy, which means it was a big deal considering the huge coffee culture in Italy. Why would they want a foreign company moving into their space? Starbucks had a challenge ahead of them and started preparing at least a year before the grand opening. A tour guide from a couple days ago actually pointed out banana trees in the Duomo plaza that Starbucks planted to get Milanese people talking about them. Their marketing served them well though; apparently the store had longs lines for the first month that were all a couple hours wait. The reserve was built in the original post-office building that was also once a stock exchange; therefore, it still ties into the city architecture. This Starbucks values transparency and shows their entire process of roasting, packaging, and more. During the tour, I came to the conclusion that the reserve is basically the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory…but better. At the end of the tour, they led us to a taste testing session, where an employee showed us how to use a chemex coffee maker. We tried the Guatemalan roasted coffee in mini espresso cups, and it was delicious. I have definitely come to appreciate coffee more from this experience. Italians seemed to have accepted the foreign company as apart of their culture, as there were many customers enjoying their products during our visit. For lunch, I ate at a little cafe near the Duomo, but unfortunately there were no more tables outside to enjoy the view. We got stuck downstairs in the basement with pricey food and slow service. I would recommend not eating super close to the Duomo if you don’t want to spend a lot, or at least get an outside table to make it more worth it, and have some extra time to spend too. Next stop, the Armani museum. After 40 years of huge success in the fashion industry, Mr. Armani wanted to give back to the young people and open a archival space with original garments to present at a relatively low ticket prices or even for free on some days. Mr. Armani is still alive and thriving in his work, so it was really cool to see his previous masterpieces. The clothes were presented as if they were on a mannequin’s body to help show how the garments move, but there were not mannequin heads or limbs because Armani should be appreciated for the personality and movement of an outfit as opposed to the person wearing it. Growing up, Mr. Armani made so many sacrifices to continue his passion and watch it grow. He knew that “life was a war” but he had to “fight for it,” according to our wonderful museum tourist guide. Fortunately, we were allowed to take pictures in the museum to be able to look back on these magnificent garments. I was completely in awe by the precise detail and cuts. Mr. Armani sounds like an inspirational man, always preaching to say no to everyone else and do only what shows your personality and what is truly you. I appreciate his work and his mind, as well as this visit. Later on in the evening, I went back to the Duomo to climb the stairs all the way to the rooftops. The view was incredible, and the skyscrapers were even visible in the distance. Eventually, after walking around Milan for a bit and eating dinner and gelato, I ended back at the Duomo to enjoy the nightlife of the area. There seems to be some preparation for a parade coming soon to Milan in celebration of the National Guard’s anniversary, so tonight, we listened to some music played by those who were apart of the celebration (easily spotted by their Peter-Pan looking hats). Overall, it was a great day, and my feet are extremely sore, but I know it was completely worth it.

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