Volume 4. A Taste of Milano

For the past month, I have lived in Torino, Italy. I am just starting to reflect on all of the opportunities and adventures I have gone on (please pinch me)! Due to the central location of Torino in relation to the rest of Europe, it is very easy to travel to many different places. My second weekend in Italy, I traveled two hours west by bus to explore the city of Milano. I left at the crack of dawn and arrived in the city center by 8:30. Due to arriving so early, not many people were in the city center. The dynamic of the city center was completely different.


For breakfast, we found a gluten free bakery and ate chocolate muffins with espresso. We started by exploring the more touristy part of Milan and walked along the super expensive shops. I barely pretended I could afford the items in the windows! That afternoon, I met up with one of my grandma’s friends cousins who lives in Milan. She showed me how to get off the beaten path of tourists. She also showed me a church that was decorated in human bones from floor to ceiling! Apparently these bones where from people who had lepersy and died hundreds of years ago. The designer/builders took the different types of bones and organized them in different patterns on the walls. I’m not going to lie, it was very odd but super cool.

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That night for dinner time we decided to walk around until we stumbled upon a good restaurant. Oddly enough, we ended up finding an ‘underground’ restaurant (there was not even a sign!). Unfortunately, reservations were required and it was well out of my price range- I also did not have a fur coat to fit in with the dress code. So we ended up following one of the rivers. As the day turned into night, the dynamic along the river walk completely changed. After sunset, the river streets were bouncing with nightlife. We decided on a gin bar that served exceptional food. I had slow cooked pork with creamed carrots and a perfectly crafted gin drink with pomegranate juice, lemon, and a hint of bergamot.

The next day, we went to the Duomo church and toured the inside. Once I entered the church, it made me feel so tiny! Unfortunately, it was too foggy to go to the top and see Milan from the top of the Duomo but I hope to go back on a clear day!

That afternoon, I met up with my grandma’s friend’s cousin again and met her daughter and American friends who are from Michigan but living and working in Milan. They showed me the more industrial part of the city that had skyscrapers and the expo centers used for Fashion Week.

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Going to an Italian city like Milan has made me appreciate the city I live in. Torino is so different, including the food and architecture. I had no idea until living in Italy the recent unification of the country! It is so odd to me that even the language I am learning wasn’t widely used until after world war two (previously people spoke in their own ‘dialect’ that are just now considered different languages) .

This past month has been a dream come true. It’s crazy how much you learn about yourself being the odd one out. I’d love to hear about any of your adventures.

Buonasera ๐Ÿ™‚

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Volume 3. Encountering an Italian Grandma

The other day I went on an adventure to find tall black leather boots. With the little Italian I know paired with many hand gestures, the shop owner eventually understood what I was looking for and brought me boots. An older lady shopping, a nonna, saw the shoes I was trying on and immediately started speaking to me in rapid fire Italian. After a few seconds of not understanding I told her, “non parlo italiano, ma sto imparando” (I don’t speak Italian but I am learning). For some reason, she was super excited and started to speak French. I tried to explain to her I was American and am studying in Torino for the next few months (at this point, this was all of the Italian I knew by heart). She became even more delighted asking me what I study, etc. During this conversation, I discovered the boots I was trying on did not fit correctly and sadly the store did not have any others. The nonna shook her head, speaking in Italian and French again. At this point, I started to get minorly frustrated with myself because I could not understand her. To my surprise, she took my hand and lead me out of the store and around the corner to another shoe store. My frustration completely vanished, interested in what was happening next.

At this moment, I experienced a cultural difference: a lack of personal space as well as a slower pace of life. Luckily, I did not have to run off to class. I was happy the nonna took so much interest in me, I am all in for any adventure!

Once we arrived at the next store, she told the owner exactly what she thought I was looking for, including my shoe size. To her dismay, I have bigger feet than she expected for such a tiny person. She actually called my feet ‘grande’, making her opinion known. Of course, I am not offended and am happy the way I am, but it was just funny to see her disbelief. Using a ton of hand motions and still speaking in both Italian and French, she insisted I try on the smaller size just to make sure.
I found this encounter so interesting because this woman took me under her wing and tried her hardest to help me find shoes. After still not finding what I was looking for, I figured I would just say bye and leave. However, the nonna was not ready to say bye. The nonna decided I needed an italian lesson and wanted to make sure I knew when to use the formal buongiorno rather than ciao. After fifteen minutes of her and the shop owner speaking in Italian, pointing at their gray hair and saying buongiorno and then pointing at me and saying ciao I told them ‘ho capito, grazie’. They had the biggest smile on their faces as we parted ways. I honestly still cannot believe a stranger was so friendly and concerned.

In America, someone might point you in another direction but never take your hand and lead you to a different place. I have noticed the lack of personal space throughout Italy. It seems that native Italians do not even notice that personal bubbles do not exist here- I guess because so many people are living on top of eachother on a land no bigger than Arizona!

Little adventures such as this one, I am going to remember the rest of my life. To me, these experiences are worth more than any money could buy. The little nonna has no idea the impact she had on my life, but I thank her and will remember her always and the fun adventure she took me on!

Unfortunately I did not get any pictures but here are a few of the city I am living in!

Volume 2. A ‘Nice’ Trip

Ciao!

โ€‹The first weekend after moving to northern Italy, I decided to travel to Nice, France. I traveled by a surprisingly luxurious bus. The accommodation had wifi, outlets and a clean bathroom. We left at 8 and arrived by lunch time. Once in Nice, I discovered the gorgeous Mediterranean, (better know as the Cรดte dโ€™Azur in the French Rivera). I first made a b-line for the port to grab lunch and scout out the yachts. ๐Ÿ˜ I ended up eating at a lovely restaurant that (literally) caught a fish, grilled it and put it on my plate. 

After lunch, I decided to follow the road up the cliffโ€‹ that over looked the water. I saw a great view of the city. After walking along the road for bit, I stumbled upon a set of old steps that looked as it would go down to the water. Naturally, I was too curious to continue. I had to follow the path to see if it lead to the water. After hiking through numerous agave and cactuses, I finally made it down to the water. I climbed the rocks to be closer to the waves crashing against the shore, but it was so windy. I noticed another path leading the opposite direction- although over grown, it looked promising and I had nothing else planned so I followed it! The path had steps that would go up the side of the cliff then back down toward the water. A few hours and over eight miles later, the path ended. That night, I was so exhausted from the surprise hike I met a few friends for wine then went to bed early.

The next morning, I realized how much sweeter the French breakfast was compared to the italian breakfast. When I ordered espresso it came with an individually wrapped sugar cube (I ate it before taking a picture). That day, the weather did not hold out, but it did not stop me from exploring. I walked around the city, going to the more ‘touristy’ attractions including the art museum.  

My goal for the day was to find a lemon and orange tree, pick fruit and eat it! After spotting many orange, lemon and avocado trees, I was disappointed because they were all on private property. At my last stop to a park, we found it full of orange and lemon trees. I picked an orange to eat and a lemon to take home and cook with chicken for dinner. I am not entirely sure if what we did was legal..But eh.. all is well. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

It was so odd that after being in Italy a few days it was hard for me to switch to French. I kept saying “grazie”. It was as if my brain could not comprehend I was in France. Many people in Nice spoke decent English and were surprisingly nice to us Americans. Although, I don’t see how anyone could have a bad day in Nice… It is nice after all! If I lived there and had a bad day I’d just take a few moments to breathe looking at the water, magically it would make me happy again. 

I would love to go back to Nice, only this time with a bathing suit and more French. ๐Ÿ˜‰

xoxo buonasera

Volume 1. ‘Buonasera’

Ciao!

I hope all is well. My name is Caroline and I am currently a fourth year at Michigan Tech University. I am studying chemical engineering and decided to study abroad in Torino, Italy for the semester. My experience has been nothing short of incredible. I am very excited to share it with you.

Torino is a very historical, industrialized and clean city. It is not a tourist city. There is one metro line stretched across the city and plenty of bus and trams to connect the gird system. The city is located at the foot of the mountains in the Piedmont region. On a clear day, I can see the Italian alps from my roommates balcony. My blacony faces the hills of Torino that surprisingly have not had snow this winter. I live about an 8 minute walk from my school and a 15 to 20 minute metro ride to the city center. I am taking Italian 1, Italian 2, Italian Culture, Intercultural Communication, and Italian Cuisine. The Italian Cuisine class starts this week. Although the credit load is 15 credits, I have plenty of free time to explore the city during the week and time to travel on the weekends.

I am so happy I am not just visiting Torino for a few weeks. I am actually living here for four months. This way, I can completely immerse myself in the ‘dolce vita’-the sweet Italian life. I conveniently live down the street from a daily open air market on ‘Spezia’ street. I walk there about every other morning to get food for dinner and am excited to be recognized by the different booth owners.

This week has already been filled with many adventures. Yesterday, I met the brother and father of my PChem professor from Michigan Tech at their family owned cafe. The cafe has been in the family over 50 years!!!! The espresso was wonderful. I hope to stop by again soon. To make the day even better, the fog that consumed the entire city for the past week cleared so the sky was blue without a single cloud. I walked to the Santa Maria del Monte, a church on a hill that over looks the city, to see the alps surround the city.

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‘Vini e Caffe’

Awkward Encounters: Arriving in Italy, I thought buonasera was a general greeting. Three weeks after getting a few odd looks and continuing to use buonasera for all times of the day, I realized it meant good evening. ๐Ÿ˜€

Thank you for reading my first post. If you ever have any travel suggestions or comments/questions just post them! I am traveling next to Naples, Pompeii and Capri.

Buonasera ๐Ÿ˜‰ xoxo