I am the last person you would expect to be a lover of Milan. I am not a great shopper, am not particularly fashion conscious, have a fairly minimal understanding of Italian art and to top it off my spoken Italian is fairly atrocious. So, in superficial ways at least, Milan and I are not a match made in heaven. But due entirely to some unexpected and incredible circumstances I suspect that I will continue to make pilgrimages there for the rest of my life.

It all began one excellent October night during my year abroad in Spain. I was studying at a local café while waiting for a friend. To be honest, the studying was a mere pretense– I was really just moping. I had been in the country since August but I had no real friends and was battling miserably to communicate in Spanish. Back in Iowa I had had big dreams of a wild year full of parties but instead I was just heart achingly homesick. That’s when into the life of this study abroad Cinderella barged Arabella, Gina, Marcella and Aloysius, four vacationing students. Aloysius – tall, handsome and regretfully gay – set events in motion when, in a spontaneous vacation-high induced gesture of gallantry; he bought me a shot of espresso and invited me to an empty chair at their table. I accepted. Several hours, several clubs and several gallons of sangria later, me, a pokey American Midwesterner, had been officially adopted into a group of glamorous Europeans- from the capital of glamour, Milan. It didn’t take much for them to convince me to transfer to the University of Milan to share an apartment with Arabella and Gina. And thus began my love affair with the most sensational of all cities.

Arabella, a fashion student, took me window-shopping along Via Montenapoleone and Quadrilatero d’Oro. Under her tutelage I learned to appreciate Cavalli, Max Mara, and Dolce and Gabbana. She even brought me to one of the prestigious Milan Fashion Weeks. I once got up the courage to ask her how she got her clothes to fit so well and was shocked to learn that most Milanese get their clothes tailored!

Don’t think that my time in Milan turned me into a fashionista; even Milan and Arabella can’t work miracles like that. Instead I found parts of Milan where I felt at home- the markets. For second-hand but still-trendy clothes there is the market in the Ticinese/Navigli district and the Viale Fauché; for food there is the Viale Papiniano and for antiques the Via Fiori Chiari market in the Brera district. But my absolute favorite is the Fiera di Sinigaglia, the flea market, held every Sunday morning. It has books, furniture, records and many other mysterious and fascinating objects. I befriended one of the booksellers who would save any English language books that came his way for me.

While I am still not up to Milanese fashion standards, my friends don’t mind, and let me tell you to my own amazement I am now the best-dressed person around.

Guest Written by my friend Mary. She is going to make a blog and just wanted to see the reaction here. I’m too busy to write as you can tell by the lack of updates!

Are you interested in Milan? I went there too but unlike Mary, I wasn’t a student. Milan can be an expensive city (all that high fashion and all). When I went, I found the hotels to be a bit pricey. I’m a budget traveler and normally stay in hostels. However, it took me awhile but I eventually found a good deal on a Milan Hotel from Hotelscombined. I hadn’t heard of them before so I recommend them!

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  1. conor Said,

    I would give anything to be in Milan for fashion week but I know also that it has so much more to offer than fashion. Thanks.

  2. heidi Said,

    When I read Milan automatically I think of fashion week, but I am sure that Milan offers more than shopping. I would like to visit this city.

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