Milan, with Marta Calosso

marta and gelato [see all]

September 26, 2004 - Milan, Italy: Ahhh, Italy. I had cioccolato al peperoncino gelato today at the gelateria close to Marta's house -- a wonderful flavor! At first it has a rich taste indistinguishable from normal chocolate, but moments after swallowing a spoonful the throat begins to tingle with spice. Marta, her family, and her friends have been loving hosts here in Milan. We had a morning coffee with her cousin Alberto, and spent part of a day with her crazy architect friend Pietro, who arrived via bicycle as he pedaled nonchalantly down the middle of the road with both hands clasped behind his back (followed closely by a stream of cars and buses). While Marta waited on the other side of the tall fence (which had a sign on it that said, "big nuts falling from tall trees"), Pietro and I climbed over into a beautiful botanical garden and walked around while I was given a thorough history lesson. I have no idea how he knows so much about the area.

marta and me [see all]

I spent much of the day at Marta's place. As usual, I felt compelled to be a computer consultant and poked around on their wireless network to get it to work with her iBook. Afterwards, we had a cena tipica cooked by Marta's mother, whose eyes smile and sparkle in a way that makes you feel warm inside. Dinner included saffron risoto, boiled beef, a light salad, wine, and fruit. Afterwards we (Marta, her mother, Giampaolo, and Giulia) sat around and talked for awhile, with Marta translating stories back and forth. I usually understand the basics of what is being said in Italian, but a good translation is always better. :) It was really nice to get to see the workings of a Milanese family, and the genuine welcome I received was wonderful.

During my two days in Milan, Marta and I walked around the city for more than ten hours. It was the first time Marta had explored the city so thoroughly on foot, and as we rounded corners into old piazzas, she was constantly reliving old memories with her friends while at the same time expressing surprise at things that had changed since she last lived here. After hearing so many of her old stories, I was left with an impression of a life in the city full of experiences overwhelming to the senses.

marta, faux gucci ad [see all]

Halfway through my stay here, I realized one of the reasons I like to photograph Marta. I am often inspired to take photos when the light is good, but it dawned upon me that Marta herself is the one who makes the light look good. She has a hint of warmth and rosiness in her cheeks, and her eyes are a light, luminous shade of brown that resemble dark brown eyes when they are illuminated by bright, diffused light. I was often wondering where the light was coming from (it confused me), and now I know.

I leave tomorrow for home. In some ways, it's a relief to be leaving; I'm here in Italy enjoying myself, with so much to do when I return. However, there is some irony in the fact that I seem to get more sleep, rest, and peace when travelling than I do when I'm at home, so perhaps it was good to get away for a bit -- simply to catch up on some much-needed rest.