We just returned from a week in Italy – my first non-working vacation since I started freelancing!
Before we left on our journey I searched the Internet for places writers go when in Milan. I found niente. So I am now adding this to the web:
Spots in Milan for Writers
Hotel or apartment. Milan is not very writer-friendly. I’m referring to those that need the Internet for their writing. I made sure every place we stayed during our time in Italy had WiFi. Otherwise, yes, the city has a few beautiful spots to sit with a notebook and pen. Our first place was an apartment, which was fantastic. We had a full kitchen, WiFi, balcony, courtyard and city views.
Duomo rooftop. As the third largest church in the world, the Duomo attracts a significant chunk of the tourist population in Milan. However, the roof was not that crowded. Bring a blanket to make the marble roof a little more comfortable and find a spot in the shade of one of over 100 intricate spires shooting from the roof’s edges. 7 euros to get to the top via stairs (11 euros if you use the elevator).
Cafe in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. These cafes are much pricier, but if you want prime people-watching–this is it. The building’s soaring glass ceilings and mosaic tile floors echo the noises of bustling tourists and clinking plates from the many restaurants. I had never had a cappuccino in my life, but decided Italy was the best place to have my first!
I read in a guidebook that the founder of Starbucks got his idea for the iconic coffee shop while visiting Milan’s cafés. From our terminal at JFK airport in New York to Malpensa Airport in Italy, plus visits to Monza and Venice, we did not see one Starbucks! What is usually a go-to spot for writers in need of WiFi does not exist (in the same form at least) in these parts of Italy. So what is a writer in need of WiFi to do?
I discovered finding a cafe in Milan is not as easy as in Paris. If you were toying with the idea of making a writing retreat in Milan, I’d suggest take advantage of the lower airfares that Milan seems to enjoy, and then take a train to Lake Como or Venice. (More posts to come on those places!) Write on the train, and then you’ll have plenty of beautiful surroundings to inspire you, no metro to manage, no rental car to park, and more time for writing.
Although I certainly felt like I was on vacation, I did not feel like I was in Italy. Everyone spoke English and I didn’t get that heightened sense of adventure that usually surfaces when traveling in a foreign country. Sadly, I have not learned any new phrases as it was not essential to remember or use them.
As my love observed after we arrived in Milan: “There are almost as many Italians here as in New York.”
Or as I observed in Venice: “This looks just like Little Italy.” Nothing in Italy was better than a cannoli from Ferrara’s in New York’s Little Italy!
Maybe next time we’ll need to go some place more exotic to get that authentic foreign country feel. Or maybe a better choice will always be Paris.