Saturday, August 21, 2010

Milan is closed in August

If you come to Italy to go to a popular beach town, say Rimini (where there also are some important ancient monuments, by the way, so no excuses!), August will be crowded for you, and probably HOT, but you’ll find it welcoming. Towns accustomed to year-round tourism, say Rome (hmmm, I wonder if there’s something to be seen there….. ;-> ),...More......

...will still be HOT, but they probably will be sufficiently open to be relatively welcoming. Cities, sigh Milan, that are not (yet) accustomed to tourism are closed for August. Yup, closed.

When I first moved here about 15 years ago, the whole town was evacuated during August, and if for some Act of God you had to stay in town, you had serious problems finding even milk and bread. In the last 5-7 years, the holidays have been scrunching at both ends, so that the ‘almost everyone but you and the unfortunate clerk at the supermarket’ period is confined to the central two weeks flanking the national holiday so important, it’s more like a New Year’s Day: Ferragosto (August 15).

More things are staying open as the economic crisis deepens Milanese get used to welcoming tourists. Supermarkets are open, so are some museums, and—while it’s a sacrifice, I’ve decided to take on the burden for your sakes to find and test them—some shops making their own Italian ice cream (aka “gelato”). The last couple of years, the city has organized a series of interesting activities for grown-ups and children, including games and open-air opera and jazz performances in the evening. The "urban desertification" of the city even has its positive side: those two central weeks of August are easy for driving and parking, and there's a refreshing sense of ample personal space.

I took this shot of a shop security screen with the “closed for the summer” sign at the corner of Pacini and Bazzini, today at 5 P.M. The painting on it and its neighbors is too tidy, too nicely within the boundaries of the door openings, to be random graffiti, otherwise, I would not have posted the image.


etta said...

Dear Star, speaking about welcome, as a native Milanese I think to be entitled to give a critical opinion on the Stazione Centrale, that together with the airport represents the first approach to the city, after its recent, ambitious and expensive renovation.
I was there on August 15th, for the first time after the end of the works. Not always new means better. At the first glance, it seems that the original architecture – however upstanding example of an historical period – has been contaminated and distorted by the winding treadmill and the sparkling shop windows, without mentioning the ubiquitous placards and advertising displays.
It is clearly visible that business was the main inspiring principle of the project, aiming at hosting as many shops as possible; unfortunately it is easier to find a designer bag than a book, or a newspaper, as a good company for the travel.
Last but not least, there is no escalator near the long stairs connecting the first floor to the second.

Star said...

Good comments. I'll add my two pennies worth, soon. (Love your new Google picture!)

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