At Home in Various Places: Our Multifaceted Identities

Most of us have it: that feeling that part of us belongs to another place, a place away from where we spend our everyday life. We fit right into two (or more) geographies, feeling right at home as soon as we put down our bags.

Going Back to Another Home

Thanks to my roots in the Italian part of Switzerland, I had a chance to go back to Milan with my American husband this summer. Once again, I rediscovered how much the Italian culture is a part of me, and how at home I feel in it. “Signora, your Italian is very good, you don’t even have an accent”, I was told. I don’t look the part that is a significant part of me.

Our first local contact was Natale, our jovial, 70-year old driver from Piemonte – in his second career – who took us to our apartment at Porta Venezia, located in a 19th-century building with a generous inner courtyard. He had a calm, swift driving style that generated a sense of safety, despite all prejudice one might have about Italian drivers.

My husband and I wanted to spend our time in the city as if we lived there, without pressure to be perfect tourists. The metropolitana stopped nearby and could take us anywhere in Milan.

EATALY’s High Foods

Our first dinner was at EATALY, a Milanese high-quality food emporium that has spread to Chicago in NYC over the years. Their exquisite English website caters to the U.S. market, which seems to be forever hungry for Italian treats (it is perfectly translated and localized!). Our Eatalian experience was delicious. All goods were from the region, the divine ice cream was made with the milk of a certain breed of Piemontese cows.

Fashion’s American Touch

On day three, it was time for some shopping in the capital of fashion. I was surprised at how much of America is found in Milan. Besides McDonald’s, there were Converse shoes everywhere, along with Victoria’s Secret and even Tommy Hilfiger stores! Up-marketed compared to the U.S., Tommy Hilfiger is sold as a less costly alternative to Ralph Lauren.

Another sign of Italian love for all things American is Milan’s latest, trendy department store, aptly named ‘Brian and Barry’. Check out their site, from the Urban Gentleman collection to the Smith American shoes (made in Italy)! Their rooftop restaurant is top class, beautifully designed with picturesque city views and delicious food.

Right Ice Cream

The right ice cream or the Italian Gelato Giusto was certainly required on such hot days. Getting it in a ‘coppetta’ instead of a ‘cono’ is highly advisable due to the melting factor. To my wonder, I discovered that the business has a dual identity as well: the second Gelato Giusto store is in NYC and is run by Lorenzo, a true gelato master!

We felt right at home in Milan and cannot wait to go back. Arrivederci Milano, one of Italy’s portals to the world – still preserving authentic Italian and Piemontese traditions at the same time.

If you are planning a Milanese adventure, you can contact us here. We would gladly share some tips.