“It’s like New York with a Big Mop. Fashion on Crack”
This weekend I had the opportunity to fly to northern Italy to visit my friend, Martina who I had met from some family friends in Sicily. Martina speaks English very well, as she studied for six months in Whales and is graduating in March from her program for international studies. She wants to become fluent in multiple languages, and I know without a doubt she will.
I told her when she was in Sicily that I would love to come to Northern Italy and I don’t think she actually thought I would. Many people say things like this all the time- but a few days later, I talked to her and booked the ticket that night. This would be my shot to see Milan and to visit people I already knew is that much better!
I’m not going to lie, the whole traveling part can be a doozy. Nothing seems like a straight shot anywhere in Europe. I wish you could walk to the airport and the plane would land right in the middle of some of the largest cities in the world. Of course, this would essentially ruin those cities, so ….
Anyway, after a friend drove me to the bus station, I took a bus to Catania, flew to Bologna, from Bologna took a bus to the train station, a train to Parma where Martina and her friends live (home to Parmesan cheese!)
From there Martina and her friend Valentina drove me to their apartment where I got to meet her awesome and friendly roommates, Filo and Marium and we spent the night eating all together and them telling me each of their dreams, what they were studying and more differences between Southern and Northern Italy. Most of the girls are from Southern Italy like Sicily and confirmed that people in the north are a bit “colder” than people in the South. Martina thinks that he can be due to weather. In Sicily, the weather is generally very warm and the summers are amazing on the waters. In Milan it rains a lot, there are no beaches and is known for work and fashion.
I loved seeing them all at work- one preparing the table with homemade bruscetta and the other making “crepes” filled with cheese and ham. I asked them if they always ate together and they said yes, almost every meal. Wow. I told them that their apartment reminded me of my apartment I was living with 3 other girls. I have lived with up to 9 other girls in a house, and there is just something so much better about living with just a few girls and being able to cook together, etc. But I also shared with them that our schedules were so different that rarely would we get to eat together. When we did though, I loved it. My roommate Emily would make me yummy coffee with hazelnut cream in the morning and or we would cook salad and chicken at night.
The next morning we headed to Milan- which was another journey. A bus to the train station which we road for 1.5 hours (10 Euros each way) to Milano where we caught another bus to the city centre. The trip was starting to get pretty expensive, but to cut costs we packed panninis which are just fabulous in Italy- fresh bread with salami and mozzarella cheese- a big one for lunch and a smaller one for a snack and some water. Not complicated, just delicious.
But man, once we got to Milan, it was fabulous. Like New York with a big mop. Like fashion on crack. Couture. Dolce & Gabanna. Louis Vutton. Valentino. (This is coming from a girl who only have a Michael Kors wallet and Coach clutch because they were awesome presents from her brother and sister)
Martina took us to the Piazza du Duomo and then we headed to the Galleria. I’ve honestly never seen anything like Milan. I know there are a ton of tourists there every day, but I still thought it was magnificent. We ate warm chestnuts on the street and ended our exploring with coffee for them and lemoncello gelato for me.
It was such a rainy day which made for umbrellas and cold boots, but I think the gloom made the lights of the shops come alive.
At night we all had dinner together, this time salad and breaded chicken from one of their mom’s. (Italian mothers love to send their children food.) Again, it was nice to eat salad, as this is rare for me in Sicily.
At night we met up with more of Martina’s friends and headed to a “Jamaican Pub.” I thought it was so ironic that we are in Italy going to a Jamacan Pub- in a way it just didn’t feel right. The waitress wouldn’t show us a menu and said they just “have everything” and there were still dirty drinks all over our table by the time our drinks came. However, I chimed in with the girls and decided to share a huge caraf of a fruit cocktail in the middle with exotic fruit like “fruit of love,” coconut, mango and other different flavors, and by the time I was starting to be more relaxed I was starting to have a blast.
The drinks were delicious and we heard the music- they were starting to play, “Twist and Shout,” and songs from Grease. That’s my jam!! So of course we hit the dance floor, but we didn’t just hit the dance floor…we OWNED the dance floor. It was fantastic. We were dancing like wild banshees all night. Martina and I shared more drinks and I started making requests like the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears- of course.
Once Britney came on, of course I had to lip sing on stage. But then “Hit Me Baby One More Time came on, to which I said, time to JUMP!!!!! …. and CRUNCH. Twisted my knee. Awesome. When in Roma?!
So that wasn’t my brightest moment. Luckily I was a little tipsy but it still hurt like hell bobbing around. (Wasn’t going to let a simple twist of my leg stop me!) When we got back to the apartment I was just in luck.
Luckily, one of the boyfriends was a physical therapist and he checked out my knee the next day, confirming that although I can be an idiot sometimes, it wasn’t actually broken- just needed some ice for a few days.
I didn’t want to leave Parma. It was such an excellent, carefree weekend. I miss those. I want more of those when I return to Los Angeles. I miss living with a bunch of girls, and look forward to doing that again in the future.
We spent the morning dunking biscotti’s with nutella into our homemade capuchinos and scooping them up with spoons and they insisted that they would visit me in Los Angeles, which I truly do believe they will. Martina plans on heading to London in March to improve her English (Even though she probably speaks better English than I do.) And us girls want to go visit her, even if it’s just for a week.
Then it was off to the train station, where Martina insisted that I keep her umbrella because of the freezing cold rain. (Who does that?) I’ve found that it is inherited among Italians to be some of the sweetest people I’ve met. They don’t even think about it. They 100% put others before themselves without even blinking an eye.
I had bread and parmesan cheese in my bag for my little dinner during the journey back to Sicily and the only part where I almost freaked out was when my VISA card wouldn’t work at the banks to withdraw money for my bus and I thought I was going to be late for the plane.
I only had 2 Euros in my bag and desperately needed my card to work. (The US thinks someone stole my card and put a hold on it.) I looked to my phone to call my dad, which was dead and thought. What the heck am I supposed to do!? I don’t have Euros, I don’t have a phone and my VISA isn’t working!
I thought, “calm down, Ashley.” My dad always says I freak out which is entirely true, and I thought, no, not the time, and I started to think, okay, solutions, solutions. I could
I realized, who was I to ask someone for 4 euros for my bus when I never gave people money on the streets? (Here’s where I felt God glaring down at me saying, “Treat thy neighbor as thyself.)
So I jumped into a taxi and prayed that my card would work. I nervously sat in the taxi on the 9 minute drive with this old man telling me how much he loved the Los Angeles Lakers, as I’m clutching my VISA praying that it will go through. I figured that when I used it to buy my train pass it was fine- it was just at the banks that I couldn’t withdraw money.
Phew. BAM. It went through. Ended up paying 15 Euros instead of 6 for a ride but it was absolutely worth it (and was really the only way to get there).
I thought to myself, “You idiot. Why didn’t you make sure you had cash for your bus before?!” I kept praying, “God, I’m sorry I’m an idiot and I do not deserve your favor. Please help me find a way to the airport.”
I did not deserve a ride. But that’s how awesome God is, He gives you favor and keeps you safe even if you do act like an idiot, jump off a stage, twist your knee, forget your euros and jump into a taxi hoping your card won’t be declined.
Overall, I think I spent about 240 Euros on the Milan trip (all mostly plane, busses and trains) no gifts, as there was nothing that really jumped out at me, (except Valentino of course but it was completely worth it.
A weekend to hang with a bunch of 24 year old Italian girls and truly live the twenty-something Italian life with intelligent conversations and late night shenanigans, Check
Thank you Milano