May 15 Journal Entry – London Heathrow Tarmac. Departing soon for Milano.
“Sleepy and subdued after the long flight from Seattle to London, but I look forward to flying into Italian skies, seeing the distinctive Italianate architecture down below me. After arrival at Malpensa and retrieval of my one checked bag, I’ll take the train into Cadorna Station, then on to my apartment, my ‘casa‘.*
“Following my previous returns to Milano, there’s always the delight in the ride through town to my apartment, savoring the familiarity I feel for the city and its neighborhoods. Typical of most big cities, the street scenes are peopled and alive. But particular to Milano and to other Italian cities, are the narrow passages, the cobbles, the shutters, the ornate street-facing balconies, the stone work and visual details.
“Maybe this evening, I’ll go for a walk along the canal to stretch my legs and revel in my return (or maybe I’ll just get some sleep early!)
(A “casa“, though it means “house”, is also “home” and is used to refer to units within condo and apartment buildings. “Villa” refers to stand-alone homes on a private lot. I, therefore, live in a “villa” in Burien… and it feels like it!)
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“It’s always striking to me to see that the land surrounding Milano is checkered with glistening rice paddies. Italy is so very agricultural.”
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“I have not missed the omnipresent cigarette smoke!”
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My apartment is along Milano’s canal, “Naviglio Pavese” and this is the nightlife hotspot across the water from my front entrance. The whole length of the canal is like this, as is the Naviglio Grande. Filled with the hip, the young and the artistic.
May 16, Wednesday. Milano. 7:00 a.m. Journal Entry
“The wind howled all night and the sound confused me. I thought it must have been pouring rain as well, but the first birds sang at 5:05 in the midst of the gusts. When I got up and looked out into the main courtyard, I was startled. It was bone dry.
“What had been rattling and shaking all night were the ‘tapparelle’, the security/privacy shutters that all of Italy closes after dark, sealing themselves in against ___?____ Now, with my shutters open, I see morning sun on the building across the courtyard and welcome the light. The birds continue to sing.
“I’m in a 2 bedroom student apartment in the Navigli Zone, ‘my neighborhood’. This is home and familiar. It’s where I know and have lived each time before, so it warms my heart to have returned.
“Much of Milano has ‘secret gardens’, inner courtyards invisible from the streets. The building facades front the sidewalks and gates, and inset doors allow entrance.
“Once inside, there is generally an inner courtyard, often lush green with plantings. My ‘casa‘ here now has a large public courtyard (for residents) with half a dozen large trees. I also have a small staircase off the other bedroom that enters my own private, planted courtyard, ideal for journaling and sipping a glass of wine. (My location smack next to the canal, however, puts me right in the midst of mosquito-heaven, so I may have to buy some citronella candles.)
At the very end of this video, you see my two tall, thin windows into my bathroom and kitchen, and the shuttered windows into my eating/sitting room.
“The wind is easing off. The sky is blue and sunlight is filling my bedroom. Light-junkie that I am, it pleases me.
“Now I will put on some music and set to work tidying this place and making it mine for the time-being.”
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Here’s a walking tour of my “casa” – my apartment – in Milano, along the Naviglio Pavese (canal).