Milan – Via Alessandro Manzoni
Finally sunshine in Milan. Not well-dressed due to bad weather. Fashion as the centrepiece of life. Shopping and getting drunk and finally those pizza things that everyone is talking about. The cold air of the mountains flows down into the valley. The trams all going somewhere.
It gets dark long before the day is done and becomes pleasant on the Via Alessandro Manzoni, once the last fashion addicts come out of the shops, exhausted, hauling their purchases home, or getting them hauled home for them. The tranquil light of the displays falls quietly onto the pavement, and you stroll hunched, your head deep in your collar, past the shop windows, casting a look inside, from the world of joy into the world of dead things. It’s nice to be young and in love in this city without having to buy anything. It was my first real time here, because the first time I did not know who Puccini was, or Verdi and Antonio Mancini, who paints the aristocratic pack, at least in tears. I only remember the rain, a translucent curtain, the mist and the park that I could see through the haze from my window. The park today is radiant in the last of the light and is called Giardini Indro Montanelli. From there on to the cathedral, in front of which I always imagine someone playing “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. Strolling through the Galeria and drinking caffè standing up at Camparino. Tragic, beautiful severity.
I could now write about another “boulevard”, but this one is in a village 1,800 metres above sea level. It leads past hotel castles, costs over 30,000 Swiss Francs a square metre and presents dead things to the world in their displays left and right. Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Loro Piana, Cartier; the world’s best-known designers in a unique concentration on probably the world’s shortest luxury mile. The only village street in the fifth most expensive location in Europe, where you can buy watches, furs, paintings, Engadine nut cakes and rare teas without crossing one traffic light to do so. So, you don’t even have to fly to New York, and you can have a drink at the bar in Badrutt’s afterwards (they’re better drinks anyway) to recover from the shock, if you still have money left over – or if not, then even more so. For those who do not judge the value of something based on how big it is, what it weighs and how much it cost, there is also something priceless – the winter, when large snowflakes fall and cushion the impact on your purse of the items at the Christmas market. Jazz plays in the background, and some dance as if just dodging the flakes. Nothing has greater value than the moments that come for free. The title at the beginning may not quite apply to village streets, but many of those who have experienced the grand European boulevards will sooner or later also walk the Via Serlas.