Although, this particular post is bit personal and full of feels, I believe there are a few of you out there that may relate.
[November 2017] – This return trip to Milan turned out to be an incredible rediscovery of the city in which I had spent a few months studying back in 1996. Although, I had returned to Milan a couple of times since, it had been about ten years when I last visited. A lot had changed, but thankfully a lot remained the same.
Seeing my old stomping grounds, discovering new neighborhoods, and experiencing the modern cocktail culture made this trip full of memories new and old. And it makes me want to come back again soon. I could even picture myself relocating here in the near future. Who knows?
I awoke on the last morning of this Milan trip with a mission to visit the neighborhood in which I lived back in 1996. I took the metro 1 (red subway line) to the LIMA stop, stepped up out of the underground, onto Corso Buenos Aires, and walked a block east to my former street. I rounded the corner and was soon standing underneath the balcony of my former bedroom. Behind me: the green way I looked out at every morning, waking up for classes or a day of exploration.
Flashes of my time here came back to me; sparking memories that I had totally forgotten about. These memories became a jolt of bittersweet nostalgia, reminding me of my current age, but with an affectionate appreciation to this experience of my youth.
I strolled around the block again, back to Corso Buenos Aires, and back down the LIMA metro platform. I decided to retrace the steps I used to take when attending classes – so, I hopped back onto the subway headed towards Cadorna.
From the Cadorna stop, I changed to metro 2 (green line) to Famagosta; where the university was located. I walked along the grounds for a bit, having flashbacks of our time in various classes, the cafe bar located on the ground floor, and even all the fun times after. Standing there as young students walked about energized me, but soon, and once again, reminded me of my age.
It’s an almost awful and complex feeling, nostalgia. Remembering back: you smile. But when your head brings you back to the present, a bit of melancholy creeps in, and you realize how far back that time was. And you realize you can never get that time back. And you ask yourself if you lived it to the fullest. But one only needs to remember all that they have done to realize their achievements and smile again. My time as a student in Milan was probably one of the most influential, memorable, and greatest experiences. One of those experiences in life that helped augment character, mind, and appreciation for one’s past.
Soon, I looked around and began to feel awkward. I had been standing in the university’s courtyard surrounded by young college students; I was clearly out of place. So, I moved on and retreated back to the metro subway stop, back to Piazza Duomo.
I strolled down Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, perusing the shop windows, and sought more elements from my time here. Truth be told – and by request of fellow alumni – I was on a small mission to find the gelateria my friends and I had frequented back in the day: Le Tre Gazzelle. I walked up to it, but unfortunately the gelato was not yet displayed at Le Tre Gazzelle; either it was still too early, or maybe because November was not the right season? Ha!
I retraced my steps back to the Galleria (Vittorio Emanuele II), admiring the glass ceiling above. Underneath the center dome, I looked down at the mosaic floor and found that bull of Turin ahead of me. As the ritual goes, I stood there with my right heel on the bull’s testicles – immediately thinking back at the times we had first discovered this place. Completing the ritual, I spun three times for good luck. I felt like a fool, but I wasn’t the only one doing it, so I got over it and proceeded towards La Scala.
I remembered when the university took us to this beautiful theatre. We attended a ballet featuring one of Italy’s famous dancers Carla Fracci. We were all dressed to our finest, sitting in the red velvet box, watching the spectacle on the stage below.
Standing in front of this theatre today sparked even more memories of my time in Milan: strolling Parco Sempione, dancing all night at a rock club, and even that awesome encounter on the fashionable via Montenapoleone. [Read about that here: Part 1 and Part 2.]
Once again, I traced my steps back to Piazza Duomo. This time, I walked right up to the cathedral’s massive front doors to find the leg that patrons would rub for well wishes. But we students used that same leg as a place for meeting up. Coming from all different parts of the city, we would make plans and simply say: “Meet me at the leg.”
To all my fellow IES Abroad alumni of Milan ’96: I hope you enjoyed this little stroll down memory lane, and I hope to someday meet you again at the leg. Reunion anyone?
- Le Tre Gazzelle – Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 22, 20122 Milano
- La Scala – Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milano
[Fine. The End.]