Thursday, June 08, 2006

Milano! Aldo!


If it is your first time to Europe, I would not start in Milan. Most people, well, American people, think of sidewalk cafes, slow strolls down romantic streets and old buildings when they think of a trip to Italy. If that's what you are after, Milan is not your town. Sidewalk cafes are not near as prevalent as I would have thought, Milan is very industrial and fairly modern and it ain't no strolling town. It's go go go, all the time. In fact, Milan reminded me of Oslo....very similar buildings, streetcars everywhere, people zipping hither and thither and a paucity of remaining historical sites, compared to other Italian towns. (Milan was seriously bombed in WWII.) It feels almost...gritty.

That being said, I liked Milan. No, it's not on the top of my list as far as European cities, but it's got its charms.
It's easy to get around, especially once you figure out the tram system, which is very convenient.
The people are very nice.
The shopping is great. Even in the snootiest stores, the salespeople are, as a rule, very friendly. (Yes I went to Prada and Cavalli and Louis Vuitton. Yes I felt comfortable in there. No, it was not like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman", you know where she goes shopping and they won't help her?) (Oh and oddly enough, I bought nothing, as what I did want they never had my size**, and what they did have in my size I did not want. This proves my life-long theory: When you actually have money and want to shop, there is nothing to buy. You only find the great stuff when you are poor, then you want EVERYTHING.Which is why rich people stay rich, when you can have it all, why bother?)
The Duomo, the cathedral there, is fabulous, especially the outside, because they let you climb around on the roof. I felt like I was climbing around on a giant wedding cake.
And the weather was GORGEOUS.

Our hotel was WONDERFUL. The Hotel Lancaster, the staff were the friendliest I have ever encountered in a hotel, the room was great and the bathroom was 5 star quality. I LOVED the bathroom. The only problem is that the Lancaster is in a sort of boring area, there is nothing nearby in terms of restaurants and so on, so you have to walk or catch a tram to get to where the action is. However, the hotel itself more than made up for the lack of stuff to do around it, so I give it a big thumbs up.

** Hello, people at Hogan? I really want those silver and black sandals you had..can you PLEASE find me a size 41 somewhere?


For me, the highlight of the trip to Milan was getting my hair done at Aldo Coppola. Ladies, if you find yourself in Milan, and you've got curly hair, go to Aldo Copploa and get yourself a haircut! It will cost a bomb, but it's worth it.

After my recent hair disaster, I'd been feeling pretty scruffy. I needed a cut, I needed a color adjustment and I honestly needed an attitude adjustment, too, as I've been down on myself and feeling pretty gnarly. So I gathered up my courage and trudged up the the 8th floor of the Rinascente department store, directly across from the Duomo, to get my hairs prettied up. I don't know about you, but walking cold into a (you think) snooty hair salon in a foreign country where you can't say "boo" in the language is a bit scary. But I was desperate. So I did it.

It was a bit touch and go in the beginning. I was trying to describe my recent hair disaster to folks who spoke VERY LITTLE English and my choice of words may have caused a few disconnects. When I mentioned I wanted permanent color, they thought I wanted a perm! So I backed WAY off that, and finally grabbed a swatch of hair from underneath my head, at the nape of my neck and pointed at it and said "good natural color" and pointed at the carrot-y top of my head and said "bad, mistake color". Luckily, I am a bit of a ham and an actress, so communicated by way of facial language, hand gestures and the odd word or two. A very small perky guy came up, showed me some color samples of hair and told me he would mix them together to get me back to my natural shade of auburn. I said "good?" and he said, "good". So he took me to the back of the place, glopped some goo on my head and half an hour later I had FABULOUS rich, deep natural color, like what I was born with, but better. Lots better. And way more expensive.

For the cut, I basically made lion noises and fluffed my hands around my head in the international sign of "big hair" and this tiny guy laughed and said "Ah! Italy hair!" and made my hair his bitch within 15 minutes. His scissors flew about my head, he hopped around and flashed about and practically had to stand on my shoulders to cut my hair, he was so short, but when he was done, I gotta say, I was gorgeous. Auburn, wild maned, la dolce vita out of Texas, gorgeous.

The next day I wore my contacts ( I usually hide behind my glasses), made up my eyes and with the red hair flying and the green eyes flashing, I felt great. I sashayed about Milan like an old style Italian movie starlet. If there had been a fountain, I would have frolicked in it. I got flirted on madly by men in the street, in shops, in was just what a girl needed to keep her confidence up. Apparently, Italian men like tall, curvy, slightly goofy Texan gals with deep auburn (titian) hair and green eyes. Hell, even my own HUSBAND flirted with me, and girls, seriously, when was the last time your husband flirted with you?

So, yeah, in 4 months or so, you might see me flying back to Milan just to go to Aldo Coppola to get my hair cut again....

Oh, and did I mention the view from the salon while I was getting my hair cut?

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