Sensazione: DI FRESCO… E FELICEE
(Translation: Feeling Cool… And Happy).
So to the Italian arm of things. Where are we up to? Right!
Unboarding the 15-hour-long bus. (On pulling up and the loudspeaker crackling out in Italian, I blearily blurted, “Are we in Milano?” I mean, I had to ask; what if I had disembarked only to find I was in fact in a different city eons away from my required point of departure with no more than a nearly-dead cellular and massive fuck-off backpack to find my way forth with?).
Luckily for me, old PMS had worked out my metro journey to undertake so I was not saddled with the need to sit on my big pack of belongings in front of the big metro map board at 6.30am in the Lumpango station with limited wifi, attempting to find my conduit. All I had to do was hustle one 1.50-euro train ticket, open my messenger and be on my way.
Having gone the Airbnb route, PMS had forwarded me the instructions on how to get to the staying place from the host (what a champ). So having no data was no issue; I had step-by-step directives to get me to the address. (Although I misread the first point, being “turn right”, instead turning left and ending up on the wrong side of the tracks, necessitating an underpass rectification to get back on route). Upon stopping to make wees at a more upmarket hotel (“Grazie, grazie you bella man! You are a good soul,” to the man on the door who allowed me admittance) I re-donned my heftier-by-the-moment backpack and navigated the roads to the accommodation.
A gated complex, I was at a crossroads of how to get in – but someone must have been beaming upon me, because an early morning cyclist was headed out for an outing and a big “Bonjourno!” from me (act as if you’re meant to be there and all that) had him letting me through. All I had was “C18” as the apartment number so I wandered the blocks for a while until I figured the floors were alphabetical, prompting me to climb up to the third, find the door and log into wifi to tell PMS I was outside. (Rather chuffed at my swindling of situation, it must be said).
He replied he was waiting for me at the train station. Fab.
No matter – he returned home soon after and I got to have a shower and change my attire from my blasted bus ride.
And onto meandering Milan! We caught the metro into the city and spent the next seven hours roaming around the vias and squares and gallerias. We went to Il Duomo (apparently the zenith of all Italian churches) (well, the second one we went to was; bloody PMS – actually probably not the term there – took me to a small, standard church and fooled me into thinking it was Il Duomo itself, which I fully fell for) (and lit a candle of course), had a bevvy at a local bar (lad on the pouring looked like an Italian Albert Einstein) and foraged about the markets on either side of the canal (more trash and treasure than trinket, it must be said). We saw eight Golden Retrievers (apparently seeing three in a day will bring a miracle, so I’m looking forward to finding out what eight in an arvo will fetch), saw a bus that was purely made up of toilets (I mean, just stop it – what a money spinner, you’d be flush in no time) and PMS had an arancini ball (ragu on point in the centre beneath the risotto).
When 7pm or so struck we stopped in at a supermarket to buy a bargain bottle of red, then metroed home to hang with our host before he took off out on the town.
So Milan? PMS termed it “liveable” I responded with “likeable”. But that’s not my “word” for it.
No, coming up with my “word” for Milan has proved quite the task. My initial thoughts were “neighbourly”. But it didn’t seem quite right. Although it gave across a rather neighbourhood-ly vibe what with the next-door-neighbour feel and what not, it’s not a true illustration of how I felt about it.
Cool. That’s what Milan is. Cool. Cool in the sense of rather rad, and also cool in the intuit of communications and what not. It was unruffled, composed and placated, not at all involved with hustle and bustle, even when business was most definitely the case. CCC – cool, calm, collected. Milan to a T. (Well, triple C).
So we woke up this morning and repacked our packs, ready to traipse onto the train to Genova (as the locals call it; Genoa for all you Inglese speaking fellas). After a bout of yoga (me) and a fit of press ups (PMS) we headed on our way to the Centrale Station for our 12.25 departure for the next port of call (a derisory hour-twenty-three of travel time away).
As soon as we bounded up the steps and blinked into the Genova rays I felt a sense of amity. Seriously, how fab is Genova? The charisma and character was full on apparent within the first few steps. The slender streets! The limited lanes! So quaint and quirky and quixotic. A mere 20 seconds in I announced my ardour for the city, fully in a trance with its incantation.
We trooped the kilometre or so to our booked in Airbnb, to a little lane in the midst of the middle. Upon buzzing the bell, our superhost (not just a host – this lad had acquired such superstar rating on the site that he was now in “super” status) Claudio greeted us upon entry with an affable address and welcome to his abode.
After we tackled the stairs (and how LJ’s were they in looks; you know when you eat liquorice all sorts and take the coloured bits away from the actual liquorice squares? Well these steps looked like those black bits all pieced together one by one to make a stairway) and entered number five, Claudio showed us about the antiquated apartment. Upon reaching the wee kitchenette he proferred a number of beverage options: water? Italian coffee? Wine? Well, as it had hit 3pm PMS was on point for a glass – as was I.
So Claudio uncorked a bottle of Chanti and we spent a jocund hour or so sipping back the reds as we discussed matters of being in both broken languages (Google translate was of much great aid). He was a lovely gentleman, all graceful and gracious and full of good chat and I greatly enjoyed it.
PMS and I then took off to roam the road of Genova. And wow – what a place! Being a public holiday (unsure what for, but one nonetheless) the conurbation was packed out with populace – but locals, rather than tourists, which was true Genova on point.
We sat in the sun and sipped Spritz (well, I did; PMS had some sort of beer), reclined in massage chairs that went to town on our aching anatomy (one euro for five minutes of manipulation, what a broker) and then plonked down on the port side for a pizza (him) and another Spritz (me) where we yarned about everything and nothing and watched those walking by. It was happiness personified, and I felt truly, if not at peace, then bloody damn near it.
On return back to Claudio’s we saw our fourth Golden Retriever of the day (seriously, is this type of breed on vogue in northern Italy?) and I went in for a pat (of the dog, not PMS). As soon as my hand made contact with his blonde head (the dog, not PMS), he launched at me with zest and went to town humping my left leg. His mortified owners managed to pull him off (“Scusami! Scusami!”) whereupon I laughed and made jest before he propelled at my left leg and set sights on the city on my kneecap (“So much scusami!”).
PMS and I trooped home to have another Chanti with Claudio (he had let it slip earlier on that it was in fact his birthday, so we stopped on return to purchase a birthday card and bottle of wine for him) before he went out with friends. Upon his exodus (out to sink some swills and consume some cuisine with comrades) PMS and I sank some sangria (he had bought me a bottle back from Barcelona) and storied the night away.
So tomorrow so many adventures on the cards, including a ramble up the high hills and a view of the vista. We shall plan the next few days flaneuring about, before I fly back to London for adventures with the one and only Christina (post to come on this luminary).