mercoledì 1 giugno 2011

best of Milan

My time in Milan is coming to an end. I think I'm ready.
I mean, not packed yet and maybe not cosciente of the change that's coming my way, but maybe a sliver of readiness c'è, hopefully?
So in honor of abandoning la Madunina, I've decided to make a best of list. Many months of exploration and death-risking and coffee-drinking went into making this list, so treasure it.

  • Best Sicilian gelato, granita and cannoli: La Gelateria dell'Isola, Piazzale Lagosta. Chat with Sicilian father&son while you slurp up some delicious granita. My current favorite is lemon and gelsi. Honorable mention: Gelateria Garibaldi, Corso Garibaldi.
  • Snootiest gelateria: Cioccolati Italiani, behind the Duomo across from Luini. Almost unbearably snob atmosphere, but they put melted white or dark chocolate in your cone.
  • Best ridiculously cheap restaurant: Il Toscano, Via Raffaello Sanzio. First and second courses for 10 euros. You have to be a bit careful what you pick, but you can't go wrong with the spaghetti cacio e pepe or with walnut sauce.
  • Most delicious choose-your-own pasta combination while reading the menu full of Italian poetry: Osteria dei Poeti, Corso Garibaldi.
  • Best pizza napolitana: Biagio, Via Vincenzo Monti. It's not that pizza we had in Puglia, but it's pretty good.
  • Restaurant with the best quality/price ratio: Osteria dei Vecchi Sapori, Isola. It has pear ravioli!
  • Best place to go when you want something fresh and fast and you're sick of Italian food: Mythos Ghireria, Via Quadrio near Via Farini. I literally go here every week: I am addicted to their pita vegetariana with feta, greens, tomatoes, peppers, onions, tzaziki, and fairy dust.
  • Most communist aperativo: Frida, Via Pollaiuolo.
  • Best place to get a drink and hear jazz (Thursday nights): Nordest Cafè, Via Borsieri.
  • Fanciest aperativo: La Hora Feliz, AKA Hemingway. Good for carnivores because they sneak meat into all the dishes.
  • Best Falafel Kebab: the one in Via Borsieri. They make the pita and fry the falafel to order. Yurm.
  • Favorite place to get a coffee and do something productive for hours: Nordest Caffè or, on Mondays, Bar Magenta, Via Magenta.
Non-food related best ofs to follow...

martedì 31 maggio 2011

giuliano libera milano

So, remember when I wrote about the powerful Lega Nord and their dirty, frightening politics? Well, for the Milan mayoral runoffs between Letizia Moratti (Berlusconi's right-wing candidate) and Giuliano Pisapia (the center left candidate) they unleashed their worst yet. Posters all over town saying the Milan would become a "zingaropoli" or gypsy-opolis, if Pisapia won, that he would let the immigrants take control, that he would construct the biggest mosque in Europe (gasp), that taxes would go up, police would disappear, and the apocalypse would descend. The posters of the Popolo della Libertà begged, "Don't leave our city in the hands of the Left!" Months of campaigning and millions of euros spent, especially by the right, and it all came down to this weekend, a test not just for the Milan government but also for Berlusconi's party.

And guess what? They lost.

For the first time in 20 years, a center-left candidate, Giuliano Pisapia, has been elected mayor of Milan. The city which gave birth to Silvio has dealt him a crushing and humiliating blow.

The word that comes to mind when I think of how the city reacted: jubilantly. Piazza del Duomo and the center began filling with people dressed in orange, the color of Pisapia's campaign. There were signs and ballons and vuvuzelas. We headed downtown, and I hadn't seen the place so alive and happy since Inter won Champions League. As night fell, the crowds began to sing and chant:

Chi non salta Berlusconi è!
Giuliano libera Milan!
De Corato disoccupato!
Pisapia uno di noi!

Our friends had climbed up onto the statue of Vittorio Emmanuele in the Piazza Duomo, and we clambered up after them. From this view we could see over the heads of the thousands of people who had filled the piazza, as well as the stage where musicians performed and eventually Pisapia, emotional and heartfelt, addressed the crowd. Strangers gave me high fives and grinned and shouted. There was hope and celebration in the air, and I felt an echo of the emotions of election night 2008. Like Obama, Pisapia harnessed the power of the young and the internet, put on a saddle of hope and change, and rode to victory. His slogan was even similar: Cambiare si può, we can change. More green, more integration, more opportunity, more attention, more bikes, less smog. I only wish I could see if it all comes to fruition.

Here are some images from the evening:

Referring to Berlusconi's quip that whoever votes for the left has no brain, this signore carries a sign that says, in dialect, "Tonight I brought it." Below, a woman with a sign "I'm dirty and without a brain, my name is not Ruby, and when I vote, I rebel," also referring to statements made by the Prime Minister.

In the Galleria di Vittorio Emmanuele, a woman with a bike carries a sign saying, "Letizia, leave the Palazzo Marino (the mayor's office) furniture alone, it's not yours."

The view of the stage from the statue.

Chants of "Chi non salta Berlusconi è!" Whoever doesn't jump now is Berlusconi! And a general feel for the atmosphere of Piazza Duomo.