Letters to My Manager: Milan

Quick recap of things. Let's back up a little and review a bunch of the things that had led me to a few days between April 17 and 25, 2016. So far I've looked fairly topically at some hardships, at the expense of some of the really objective details which color that time. Far too soon, in January, 2016 I committed myself to going on a trip to Italy after a girl.

I saved up tips and anything left over from a paycheck and starved neurotically to buy a cheap ticket. Very much ahead of schedule I bought a plane ticket through Aer Lingus to Milan with a brief layover in Dublin on March 8, 2016. There was another flight with a 22 hour layover in Dublin which I really wish I'd taken just to get a real Guinness, and that was a decision that was totally fraught for me at the time.

 Flight confirmation.

Flight confirmation.

The plan, later, became to fly out of Amsterdam at some future date. Frankly it turned out to be a good thing that I went this shortsighted route, because my travel plans were upended by the turmoil of the spring where I was living.

The last week of my time in Chicago saw me in a very contemplative mood. I set myself about doing as much of what I wanted to do as possible in my hometown. For instance, I went and saw an exhibit of van Gough paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago on March 18, 2016.

These movements were sketched out for the first time around April 12, 2016 in my notebook. I looked at everything I had to get done and where I wanted to be on the trip.

 A rough outline of the goals I had for my travels in Europe between April and June 2016.

A rough outline of the goals I had for my travels in Europe between April and June 2016.

I'd really built up a great deal of excitement about finally going on this trip. I'd met my goals and I was generally feeling better than I had in the weeks leading up to my departure from Minneapolis a month earlier. These were the feelings I think I passed on to my manager in Minneapolis an hour before boarding the plane on April 25, 2016.

Excitement aside, I knew I was really in Europe when they were going to charge me for coffee on the flight from Dublin to Milan. I declined.


Milan is an awesome city. Definitely a city I want to get back to and spend quality time in. The reasons are many, but I think there are just a few things that I really crave in a city which are almost instantly felt in Milan.

First the beat of a place. I like a city where people move fast and are off to do important things. Milan is a center for a lot of Italy's economic output right now, and it is a place that hums with the new and the creative. Unlike other cities I visited in Italy, Milan has less sensibility of needing to protect the old ways of the city rather continuing to build up, Ray Ban is off the Piazza del Duomo in Milan with a strong nonchalance about that. And the people move like they have someplace to be. In this way, and as the second largest city in Italy, Milan reminds me of my own second city and home.

But, second, Milan, like many old cities and cities in Italy in particular, is high density. It's extremely navigable on foot. I spent a lot of time learning to read a map of the place for the first time and needing to backtrack once or twice never really posed a problem. The centers of Milan are close and obvious, and there's a pretty extensive metro to help you along.

The fact that Milan had these attributes was important on April 26, 2016 when I arrived because I was ultimately destined for Florence and I was able to find my own way there through the systems available to me and a genuine desire to let nothing keep me from reaching that destination.