La dolce vita con Armani
As I begin to wrap up my first month abroad, I reflect on how fortunate I am to live in Milan. Last week, I focused on my experiences in a school setting. This week I wish to talk about some more exciting things about living in Milan. I was very lucky to witness one of the most interesting events in the fashion world, Milan Fashion Week. The runway shows are obviously too expensive for me to attend, but the city is packed with other attractions. One thing we saw appropriate to visit during Fashion Week was the Armani Museum. As a fan of art and fashion, the addition of Sarah Moon pieces delighted me. Though that was not the reason for my trip, it was a nice treat to discover such beautiful works by an artist I was not familiar with.
Armani’s multiple collections from throughout the years is an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life. It really solidified why I find the fashion world so intriguing. However, that is not the focus of my blog. As the title suggests, I did not have a pleasant experience with technology this week. My gripe with technology began while inside the Armani exhibit. I was trying to look through the digital archives that were made available to every visitor. These archives showed you more detail about the inspiration behind the styles as well as recognizable people associated with the work. But of course, the touch screens were acting up on us. I kept trying to read about a piece and the screen would select a different work or take me to the home page. It was the least fun part of the museum. However, that did not ruin my visit. It was a bit of nuance but it was not a total disaster. I consider this a successful and educational trip.
Bittersweet vineyard tour
The real problems began the following day when my roommate and I decided to tour a vineyard. We made a reservation the prior week to Ca’del Bosco, it is a vineyard in Brescia, which is between Milan and Bergamo. The trip began in a very unsavory way. My roommate and I looked up the directions (using public transportation) to get to the vineyard. We had to take a train from the central station of Milan to the central station of Brescia. When we arrived to the station to buy our train tickets, our train was completely booked. We had no other choice but to buy a later train, which would set us back a few hours. The plan to take public transportation was out of question at this point. We knew very well we had to take this train to Brescia and then a taxi to the vineyard, since it was the fastest way to get there. It was certain that we would not be late to our 3 p.m. appointment.
We arrive to the vineyard with 15 minutes to spare, which didn’t serve as much time when we realized we had to walk up a giant hill in order to get to the reception desk. On any other day it would have been a pleasant walk, but with only 15 minutes and the sun blazing at an uncomfortable 87 degrees Fahrenheit, it was less than pleasant. No matter, we made it just in time. The tour itself was very pleasant and educational. I got an idea of how different Italian and Californian vineyards are. Not to say one is better than the other, but just that there are differences as well as similarities. The tour came to an end and my roommate and I bought bottles to share with our families in the States.
Never trust a computer
The wine bliss slowly started to wear off as we realized we needed to find a way home. As we walked down the hill and enjoyed the view, we tried to get a phone signal just to verify the bus schedules or call a taxi if needed. Nevertheless, this did not happen. Our signal was very weak and nothing would load properly. Luckily we knew there was a bus stop near us so we decided to walk until we reached the stop. Much to our surprise, there was no real sidewalk designated for pedestrians. We had no other options than to walk along the side of the road (in the grass area) acquiring several bug bites along the way. This isn’t even the worst part. Most of the walking was pleasant because we had a very nice view, it wasn’t until we reached the main bus stop that things seemed horrible.
After the near death experience of walking alongside the road, we reach the bus stop. At that moment everything seemed to be fine, until 30 minutes passed, then 45, then an hour and the bus had still not arrived. Of course, the one day we needed the bus it was not coming. Wee tried calling the customer service line for the bus but we were on hold for what seemed like hours. At around 7:45 p.m. we realized the bus was not coming. It was time to find a taxi. As I mentioned before, our phone service was not the best so we ended up going inside the shopping mall and connecting to the McDonald’s WiFi. I had never been happier to see a McDonald’s in my life. After many failed attempts of calling various taxi services in the area, my roommate got in touch with RadioTaxi. They informed us that we would have to pay double the normal rate since there were no taxis near our area. At this point it was 8:30 p.m. and money was the least of our concerns. We agreed to the double payment and waited in the mall parking lot.
After about 20 minutes, we saw the bright light of the taxi sign and it seemed like the halo of an angel. We were finally going to get home. As I sat down in the Mercedes Benz of this lovely old man, I felt a huge sense of relief. Neither myself nor my roommate cared that we were paying double, we just wanted to get to the station. My roommate looked at the train schedules on her phone, but I was not trusting that anymore. I told her not buy anything, instead we purchased the tickets at the station.
The fragility of technology
All of the adventures we took this weekend were fun and eventful. They served to show us not only the wine and fashion cultures of Italy, but also how technology dependent we have become. It is not easy to navigate around new city, especially if you are visiting this city for the first time. I am accustomed to traveling with the aid of a GPS or some form of technology, but I learned that my phone service is not as reliable in a foreign country as it is back home. It is not say that I will no longer use any means of technology to get around a city, it just means I have to be more conscience of my surroundings and not rely solely on my phone or computer to get around. Thankful, this time my roommate and I were able to remember the route we took to get to the vineyard. Technology failed us so we walked until we arrived to a familiar place.
I know the characteristic of “Digital Technology” is mainly focused on how you adapt to new technologies. However, I think it also important to talk about the times when we don’t have technology to help us. This weekend showed me that it is okay to get a little lost and feel stranded in an unknown city. As long as you keep looking for an answer, with or without technology, everything will resolve itself in the end. Whether it’s reading up on a fashion designers mindset while designing a dress, or finding your way back home; technology is a good aid but you should always have a back-up plan.
Photos of my trip