Yesterday was the first day since I’ve been here that the sun really came out, we got our first taste of spring and the many months ahead. When I first arrived, mid-January, it seemed as though there were a perennial cloud that hung over Milan, enveloping it, that wet kind of cold that really gets under your skin. I got to know the insides of places well, because after any walk of distance you just needed to get inside, rest your legs, warm your hands. People coming through doorways had that winter look on their faces, flustered, and then quickly relieved, trying to put themselves back together.
Then little by little the sun came out, peeking around buildings in long, visible rays. Even when it’s cold here, the sun is so strong, so bright. But yesterday the temperature crept up, winter coats came unbuttoned, and the sun was warm enough that you could really feel its kiss on your face. Everyone stopped just hurrying to where they were going and old stone steps became seats, crossing a piazza became a passeggiata, not just a brush through the wind.
Free from the mindset of where to take cover next, my eyes opened in a different way to this city that I am now tentatively calling “home.” Just a few blocks, down crooked streets, from the main cathedral is a little hole in the wall place with a whole lot of history here: Luini’s. They’re known for bringing panzarotti to Milan, a fried inside-out pizza, sort of like a mini calzone, a perfect lunch on a sunny day. As I made my way there, two lines were snaking out the door and down the street in both directions, and even just waiting there in the sunshine, the street full of people chatting and the scent of fresh-made pizza, torturous to a hungry girl, it was heaven. I would have waited twice as long, with no complaint. The result: worth waiting for. At 2.50, you’ve got to love it when some of the best things in life cost so little as well. (If you wish there were a picture, I’m afraid I ate it all too fast. Maybe next time…)
Some people stayed huddled around the shop eating, resting their soda cans on window sills, but I made my way back to the Duomo steps to take in the sun and watch the world go by. This is really my favorite thing to do. In general, but particularly here. Getting a chance to stop and look at the people that go by, what they’re wearing, the ones in a hurry and the ones taking all the time in the world, groups of young friends and couples on holiday, new parents exhausted by their role by thrilled in their sort of second childhood: experiencing the thrill of it all again through their kids, delighted just by chasing a pigeon a few steps or carrying a balloon.
The day was just a tease, and today it’s back to a cold haze over the city. But it was enough to remind me of what’s to come, and that this is all a strange and lovely dream.