Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a.k.a Fancy Shopping Mall. A blue ghost appears to be running by my left side.
After not bringing a camera to Paris, you’d think I would remember to bring one to Milan. Nope. In my defense, there was barely time to remember. In order to get to Milan, I found myself running through the snowy CERN site at noon on a Tuesday, sprinting to the train stop, and arriving at Gare Cornavin with just minutes to spare. To my own bewilderment, I managed to buy the correct (albeit overpriced) ticket from the SBB counter in French. Do I speak French? I asked myself, as I walked back out into the station. I don’t think so…but I just did…sort of. As I soon discovered, it hardly mattered: I was going to Italy.
As the train slogged through the snow-laden alps I found that, there of all places, I had to restrain myself from butting in on a conversation between Americans a few seats down the car. A woman, claiming to be originally from “Cali,” was talking about cities in the US, specifically, “Frisco,” or alternatively, “San Fran.” A word to the wise: When someone claims to be from ‘Frisco, Cali, they most certainly are not. At least not anymore. I’m sorry.*
At any rate, I changed haphazardly into a dress in the reeking train bathroom as it jerked and jolted along. A dress? Indeed. I was going to the Opera. Simone (of “Club Italia” fame, on this blog) had acquired extremely cheap tickets (10 Euros) for a preview at La Scala. Using his superpowers of dexterous logging in and website button überclicking on multiple computers at once, gleaned no doubt from working in experimental physics, he had gotten in on an exclusive, once a year ticket sale. He offered me a ticket, if I could come. While I wasn’t able to escape work until literally the last minute, I did in fact escape. On the train, I got an SMS: “We will have to run.”
As we pulled into the Milano Centrale, I walked to the first car and spotted Simone on the platform. What followed was an all out sprint through the station culminating in a headfirst dive into the backseat of a taxi. Our driver, I can only assume, was cursing aloud as he waved is left hand at unruly people on scooters who passed us on the trafficked streets. Ah, the strange sweetness of silly stereotypes in the flesh; We made it La Scala with 5 minutes to spare.
Snow on the road out of the Mt. Blanc tunnel and Chamonix
Opera? Well, it was Wagner’s Lohengrin. It was, to abandon any respectable arts critic vernacular, totally rad. Why didn’t I use my Nokia phone to take photos inside of La Scala? I’m not sure, but maybe I was a little embarrassed. I was there, awestruck in the folds of red velvet, craning my neck from a box in the most famous opera house in the world, adrift in a sea of fashion savvy Italians with my dress from a second and store in Sweden, my red hair that hadn’t been cut in a year, and my Nokia phone. During intermission, La Republica tried to interview me, and I am positive it was because I looked so different. Fortunately, I do know one word in Italian: ‘No.’ C’est drôle, la vie! I felt strangely reverent as a pilgrim is reverent, and yet out of place in one of the holy grounds of classical music. Despite, I am amazed to even have had the experience.
Finally: a nice photo of the Fancy Shopping Mall
At 7Am the next morning we hit the road North (Simone had strategically brought his car to Milan) and were back at CERN, ready to work, by lunch. All I got to see in the city was La Scala, the Fancy Shopping Mall, and the façade of the Duomo (not pictured). Not bad for 24 hours, 10 of which was spent in travel, 5 in the opera, and around 7 sleeping.
Go Nokia Phone! And for the record, I don’t think iphones are totally silly.
Grazie for the hours in Milan, Simone and family! Hopefully I will be back one day. I would love to actually *go inside* the Duomo. I hear it’s all around better than Notre Dame de Paris, but I won’t believe it until I see it!
*No, I’m not.