How One Night in Milan Proved that Solo Travel is Awesome
On the cobblestone sidewalks of Prague (where I was living and applying for teaching jobs) with my green rolling suitcase, I only thought about a few things, on repeat: how annoying the sound was of my suitcase on cobblestone, how I really wanted a croissant and coffee, and how I was actually traveling alone to Italy and was I stupid for making this decision?
I had debated telling my family that I was taking a vacation from living in Prague to spend a week in Italy, alone. I knew they would worry about me. On the one hand, I wanted to save them the stress, but on the other, if something did happen to me — if I got sick or hit by a bus or something — I would want my family to know where I was.
The flight attendant on the plane from Brno to Milan spoke to me in Italian and I found the metro in Milan with no problems, even stopping to ask a man on the street for directions in Italian
My mother sent me articles about living in a post-9/11 world and sex trafficking in Europe and begged me not to go alone, but I was confident that my day-to-day in Italy wouldn’t be much different from my day-to-day in Prague, so I went.
The flight attendant on the plane from Brno to Milan spoke to me in Italian and I found the metro in Milan with no problems, even stopping to ask a man on the street for directions in Italian (I listened to Italian language tapes in college for fun and remembered most of the first few lessons).
I spent the first night in Milan on Easter Monday, walking around and eating at the restaurants that had actually stayed open on the holiday.
The first one I found happened to be a pizzeria. The man working there sat me down, smiling all the while (a welcomed change from Prague, where it’s considered respectful to basically ignore you) and immediately brought me some red wine. Yes, yes, yes. I love Italy.
I asked him what the best thing he had to offer me was. He brought me spaghetti with seafood. It was delicious.
When he asked if I was traveling alone, I lied yet again and told him that my friend was with me, but she was sleeping at our hotel.
Marco, a man at the table behind me, struck up a conversation and since he knew very little English, I spoke in Spanish with him, he spoke in Italian to me, and we got along just fine (for the most part). I explained that I was a teacher (sort of a lie), but I couldn’t explain that I was living in Prague, because Italians don’t say “Prague,” or “Praha,” apparently, nor do they say “the Czech Republic” or “Chesky Republiky.” Finally, we settled for “otro pais” (another country). I tried to see if “Alemania” worked, but my efforts were to no avail.
When he asked if I was traveling alone, I lied yet again and told him that my friend was with me, but she was sleeping at our hotel. He asked if she was getting rest to go dancing tonight. I said no. He told me that I couldn’t stay out late by myself, because when it gets dark, it’s dangerous. It was about 7:30 when he said this. Then he offered me a cigarette. I said no to that as well.
When he returned from his cig break, he offered me food advice (I did tell him that I was going to Cinque Terre). White wine with seafood, always, bella. He kissed his fingers as he said this, like typical Italian food lovers do when talking about their favorite subject. As he said this, I remembered the wine rule and realized that I had really broken it. In all fairness, I ordered red wine before the seafood recommendation (and I loved every minute of that meal, red or white wine!). I was embarrassed by my faux pas, but he let it slide. But in Cinque Terre, bella, order white wine with your food! Okay, Marco. Will do.
Even the cute little Italian girls at the next table got wide eyes when they saw my bowl of glorious gelato. I smiled at them, and then at their mother, who was smiling at me.
I finished off the meal with some tiramisu, which I’m not sure Marco approved of. (He had gelato). Thinking about the fact that I really wanted to try some real Italian gelato and tell the concierge at my hotel that I had eaten at the pizzeria she suggested earlier, I made a b-line for yet another pizzeria, where I ordered only gelato. Can I just type my thoughts as it happened for you?
“Aw, it’s just regular vanilla ice cream. Damn. Oh well… I bet it’s still taste—ohhhhHHHHH MY GOSH THIS IS DELICIOUS! THIS IS THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I’VE EVER EATEN! ITALY! I LOVE YOU! OM NOM NOM…”
Even the cute little Italian girls at the next table got wide eyes when they saw my bowl of glorious gelato. I smiled at them, and then at their mother, who was smiling at me. (So much happiness in this country! So many smiles!) I even smiled at an old couple on my walk home, and they smiled back! “WHY HAVEN’T I LIVED IN ITALY ALL MY LIFE?! I’m never going back to Prague,” I thought to myself.
Every aspect of that one night in Milan proved that there was nothing to fear about Italy itself. My guard was up while traveling, as it should be, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying myself. I was so glad I went, and so happy I was able to do it, ultimately, with the support of my family. Even when they’re worried, I know they support my sometimes stupid adventurousness, and without that, I wouldn’t be brave enough to take on such endeavors at all.
How One Night in Milan Proved that Solo Travel is Awesome
Travel Itinerary: A Taste of Italy in 12 Days
A Ferrante Guide to Naples
Why You’ll Want to Visit Florence in the Off-Season
Conquering Travel Fears, One Gelato at a Time
Finding Hidden Gems in Murano, the Glass Island of Venice
Savouring the Towns of Tuscany, Italy
Have you traveled to Milan, Italy? What were your impressions? Email us at [email protected] for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.
How One Night in Milan Proved that Solo Travel is Awesome photo credits by Unsplash.