Spontaneous decisions are often the best. A few weeks ago, we had a Saturday night with a lower-than-average homework load. The possibilities stretched endlessly ahead. To stay at home and relax? To take the time to get ahead with homework? Go out and party until we threw up? Not our style. Our friend Ryan had just been dumped by his girlfriend. Quinn and I were missing people as well. To distract ourselves from this, and to get out of Lugano (and Switzerland as a whole), we decided to venture to Milan for the evening – city of high fashion, towering skyscrapers, and the most perilous metro system in existence. (Also, the most unhelpful train staff, but that would come later.) It was a nice day in Lugano.
In Chiasso, however, the train lurched to a sudden stop, and we were left with a view of a beaten, marred old train perched precariously on the tracks alongside us. We laughed at the illustration of differences between Switzerland and Italy – until an announcement came on the loudspeakers, alerting us that our train was broken, and to get to Milan, we would have to board the Italian train headed for the center of the city. The decrepit old train was still running! Sprinting across a wooden plank covering the train tracks, we threw ourselves onboard and rolled slowly into the murky smog of Milan.
We disembarked at what felt like a completely random stop, finding ourselves surrounded by the biggest construction site I had ever seen – half-constructed buildings on a gargantuan scale, towering uncountable floors up in half-finished chaos. Intimidated, we realized that we didn’t really know anything about Milan, except that there was something called “The Dome” which was supposed to be worth seeing. Brandishing our limited Italian vocabulary, we approached Italians at random with the grotesquely American-sounding question, “Dov’e il duomo?” This proved quite helpful, and we soon found ourselves pointed in the right direction, through the bustling streets of nighttime Milan.