LIFE/Risa Johnson: my journey Viterbo-Milan


Rubbing the sleep (or lack thereof) from my eyes,  I floundered off the night train out into the rain. I had a heavy backpack, a stomache ache and nowhere to stay.

My friend I was supposed to stay with bailed the day before,  leaving my travel buddy,  Cora and I scrounging for something the morning of arrival. After we got coffee into our bloodstreams and brushed our teeth, we felt human again and ready to conquer the task.

We tried several places but everything seemed to be full.  About an hour and a half later, we finally we got the magic “Successo!” message. Okay, we thought, this wasn’t so bad; now we could go explore the city.

Then the wifi became demonic. Everytime we would be ready to complete the booking, the internet would cut out. This continued for another hour. At one point, an American who had been sitting across from us with his family stopped by us on the way out and with with a slanted grin said, “Still no luck, huh?” We both only had the energy to let out a grunt in response.

Finally, we finished booking. Cue the holy music — enter Christine and Massimo.

Our hosts through Air BNB made the rest of our trip fantastic. They are an entreprenuer couple who obviously love their city and having visitors.

Christine was like a mother hen, always checking in on us and giving advice, also making sure things were in order. We couldn’t walk around the house with shoes, which I had heard was a tradition for northern Italians.

The breakfast was above and beyond. Christina made homemade bread; Massimo, delicious cafe. They even gave us salame and cheese fresh from a friend’s farm.

I enjoyed Milan. It wasn’t my favorite city in Italy, but I was grateful to see it. The difference in the regions and how people from different regions relate to each other is fascinating to me.

Before coming to Milan, I had a picture painted, from literature I’ve read and what I had heard from Italians. I expected to see impressive skyscrapers, hard-working but less friendly people and stand-out fashion.

It seemed to have everything, all kinds of food, shopping and museums, and the people were nice enough, but it felt a little jumbled, I think because it’s such an international city.

I imagined tall buildings in Milan to resemble something like New York or Paris, but most of the city buildings we saw were very similar and dark and dull, giving it a cold feeling for me. (It should be aknowledged that it was also February.)

I could have gone without visiting the Naviglio Grande which was made more of trash than water. And around the canal the walls were licked by graffiti; not the cute “Ti amo” or “Principessa” of Viterbo, but the gross, senseless tagging kind.

However. The Basillica is beautiful and the view from the top breathtaking. I also really enjoyed seeing the Sforza Castle, which had so much art inside, there was no way to see it all.

The reason we went to Milan when we did was to see one of our favorite bands, Alt-J, perform at the Assago Stadium on Saturday night and they didn’t dissapoint. But honestly, i dont know whether the show or the apartment was the best part.

Even though the beginning of our traveling started out rough, our last-minute hosts ended up being the highlight of the weekend. I think that’s the beauty of it sometimes, being forced to keep positive and be spontaneous when things happen you didn’t expect.

That’s how we grow.

Risa Johnson  studentessa USAC

Hi everyone, I am a journalism student from Chico, California. I study Italian and journalism at the Università degli Studi della Tuscia. In my free time, I enjoy eating Italian food, creative writing, being outdoors and traveling as much as possible.

Ciao tutti, sono una studentessa di giornalismo di Chico in California. Studio Italiano e giornalismo all’Università degli Studi della Tuscia. Nel mio tempo libero, mi piace mangiare il cibo Italiano, scrivere creative, stare all’aperto e viaggiare per quanto possibile.