Although writing has become a routine part of my day, like Stendhal I find time spent in Milan to be entirely devoted to leisure and love.
Milan and its metropolitan commune are home to a branch of our Italian cousins and flying into Malpensa has always been a starting point for my taste travels in Italy. Before leaving on an Italian version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through Northern Italy, Tuscany and Umbria visiting regional producers (many now friends) that I source for my business, I spend time in Milan with la famiglia. Time spent with generational layers of the past wrapped around new memories of the present with a loving Italian family I am so happy to know. Wonderful times eating, cooking, shopping and seeing Milano through their eyes and getting to know Italy in a unique and personal way. Stendhal obsessed unhappily for years about the unrequited love of a woman he had met in Milan. He even wrote a book about it which, despite his unhappy resolution, does contain some very profound thoughts on love including this one which you might have heard “In love, unlike most other passions, the recollection of what you have had and lost is always better than what you can hope for in the future.”
Despite this Stendhal tells us that his time spent in Milan was the happiest period in all his eventful life. I can understand this. There is much to do and see in Milan and it is a pity that it is often overlooked by most Italian travelers.
On my last trip to Milan we spent the day with our cousins in Porto Genova, a neighborhood of Milan named after the city gate of the old Spanish Walls of Milan. The Navigli district is located in this quartiere, an artsy part of the city with trendy nightclubs, shops and restaurants and a series of artificial canals designed by Leonardo da’ Vinci. Da’Vinci wanted to design a navigable waterway to connect Milan to other parts of Italy. The marble used to build Milan’s cathedral, the Duomo, was transported on the waterways of Navigli from Lake Maggiore near the Alps to the center of Milan. I found myself at a ristorante near Giardini di Via Stendhal, a local park and a perfect place to enjoy a leisurely afternoon thinking that unlike Stendhal my recollection of love in past times only gets better on each trip to Milan to see our family.