It always starts the same way: you land, you impatiently wait as people block the aisle for what seems like an eternity, you thank the stewards in the wrong language, you shuffle off the plane. The transition has begun. As you walk through the bustling hoards of people you’re weary of the directional signs that are now suddenly written in a different tongue. Unrecognizable words float in and out of your ears leaving behind a dull scratching sound—meaningless phrases to the non-speaker. You keep walking to try to find a bathroom, and what did you find? A cappella (chapel) right in between the toilets and a coffee bar. Welcome to Italia.
Waking up the next morning resulted in an odd sensation: it doesn’t feel like I’m in a different country. I can get by with my Spanish. My best friend/sister is at my side. I don’t feel lost or uncomfortable. After a quick breakfast we began to walk towards the hub of town to climb to the top of the Duomo, the 3rd largest cathedral in Europe. Suddenly the narrow crowded streets opened into a huge piazza revealing an ode to gothic architecture: Milan’s Duomo. The white pillars piercing the pale blue sky resembling pale arms reaching out towards God in a desperate prayer. Curled leaves, Roman Gods and Goddess, scenes from the Bible covering every surface so that not an inch of smooth surface can be found. All of it was to teach the illiterate masses about God and his ability to save souls, but that lesson could be easily taught by simply standing on the roof of the Duomo. Heaven never felt so close. High above the city tendrils of ivory stone drifted upwards into the sky as if evaporating into the weak autumn sun. A cloud just below Heaven’s gate. Yet, just down below, the bustle of an European fashion capital continued without a pause or glance. A perfect metaphor for what Milan truly is: an oxymoron. Extreme beauty. Extreme industry. An extreme need for leisure. An extreme sense of urgency. Both opposites building and supporting one another as they melt and mold each other into this odd city of duality. Castles and Catwalks. Da Vinci and Designers. Frescos and Ferraris.

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