Amongst the Dead in Milan

part of the BootsnAll Indie Travel Challenge Project

What’s the best indie travel experience you’ve had in Italy? Or, if you’ve never been, what’s the place you’d like to go in Italy more than any other (and why)? More generally, what do you do when you visit popular places in order to have an indie travel experience?

quick side note to answer the last question: how to have an indie travel experience in a popular place? a) put down the guidebook and research the place, completely separately, history and all. something has to catch your eye. if not, b) get lost. literally.

back to the story at hand. i’ve been fortunate enough to visit italy several times:

as they say, though, nothing compares to your first solo experience.

the best part of the 2006 trip to milan and turin for the winter olympics was well, ok, my first olympics, but a very close second was visiting the Cimitero Monumentale de Milano. i don’t remember where i got the idea to visit a cemetery, since until that point it had never crossed my mind, but i have since discovered they are amazing places to visit (been to them in italy, switzerland, argentina, and japan, all wonderfully moving experiences, unique in their own way that reflect the local culture and traditions). i don’t remember if i saw a picture of it online or if i read about european cemeteries somewhere, but in any case, it was one of those places where i walked around slowly, wide-eyed, trying to take it all in because i’d never seen anything like.

another side note: it’s only six years later that i recognize the irony in visiting a cemetery the day after finding out my grandfather passed away. i’m not sure i realized this twist of fate at the time; i’m hoping i did.

the artistry of the tombs combined with the sadness, stillness, solitude, and tranquility (i was the only one there for most of my visit) were incredibly moving. looking back, i can even describe it as spiritual even though at that time i did not have the depth of experience to consider it as such. i just knew i was simultaneously awestruck and spellbound and, maybe because it was a cold day in february (though i doubt i’m that heartless), the entire experience resonated with my soul.

the following were taken with my holga:

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