In 1972 Ray and I had been married for less than two years and had little money but a burning desire to see Europe. Ray was teaching and I had accepted a teaching job for that fall, so that summer we were unencumbered, had saved as much as possible of our meager paychecks and we had a plan. We ordered a new Volkswagon Beetle, bright yellow, that we picked up at the factory in Germany and bought camping gear in Berlin. It was a grand summer, and by the time we got to Italy we were pretty skilled travelers. We were thrilled by Rome and Venice and Pisa and Florence, so when we got to Milan it seemed a bit drab by comparison. And it was raining. I clearly remember the grandeur of the cathedral in Milan and the fact that it was black.
But it is not black. And probably never was.
When we saw it again in April I couldn’t believe my memory could have been so faulty. I took to the internet and learned it was cleaned between our visits. Old photos showed it dark and dirty, but not the black I remembered. Maybe it was the rain? Maybe it was my brain. Nevertheless, a magnificent piece of art and architecture.
We were not camping this time, but staying in a modest, but quiet and comfortable Air BnB in a nice neighborhood on the outskirts of the city.
Just down the street was a charming coffee bar near the train station and our short train ride into the center of Milan.
Despite its ancient, grand architecture, Milan is a very modern city, the centers of business and innovative design. We were, coincidentally there during “Design Week” and got to enjoy some exciting special exhibits as we walked around the city.
Store windows were filled with beautiful displays.
This big public sculpture of a threaded needle (sorry, I cut off the top) pays honor to Milan’s fashion industry.
I remembered the beautiful covered shopping gallery across from the cathedral from 47 years ago. It was filled with small shops. I bought a book in English on our first trip—“The Exorcist”—then scared myself silly reading it at night in our tent! There are no sweet little bookshops there now, only Designer showrooms.
We spent our last day in Milan wandering through the Monumental Cemetary. We missed that back in ‘72 and were glad we found it this time. Incredibly moving and beautiful. And, like our long ago time in Milan, it was raining.