Milan is a beautiful city with nice parks, picturesque buildings, and a rich culture. I had such high hope for it when I stepped foot in the beautiful train station. There’s plenty going on and loads to see, but none of it quite hit the spot for me. Of course all travel experiences are subjective. Perhaps I would have enjoyed my visit had it not been for the perfect storm of Bad Things that happened.
The strange Airbnb
Up until I got to Milan, my Airbnb experience had been positive. The two I stayed in when I was in Spain were lovely and exactly as advertised. I’m sure it helped that they both had pets, but mainly it was down to feeling safe and secure. The trend didn’t follow me to Italy. The flat was at the very end of a long road – I don’t have a problem with this at all. Location was as expected. When I got there it started to all go a bit downhill.
Usually when you stay in a flat the host will either label their doorbell clearly, or send you instructions for how to get in. Not this one. I spent about ten panicked minutes buzzing the wrong person. Luckily they were out or that would have been hella awkward. Eventually I tried a different buzzer and lucked out. The host answered and I breathed again.
Until I got upstairs and the host showed me round. He was plenty polite. But he was a he. As a solo female traveler I specifically chose places with female hosts. I’ve read the stories, I know the risks, I thought I’d mitigated them. Nope. The lady from the listing was nowhere to be seen. No evidence of the lady. It was odd because the reviews had even talked about the lady so she must exist, but I was definitely hosted by a man.
Had the door not had a lock I might have considered bailing. Luckily I did get to sleep under lock and key, but I was still on edge the entire time I was there. There’s probably a reasonable explanation, but the guy didn’t speak much English and I was too awkward to ask anyway. At the end of the day I was safe and nothing bad happened, though my entire Milan experience was kinda soured before I even started exploring the city.
The strange man in the park
Let’s just continue on the topic of strange men here, as women do throughout their whole lives.
One of the things on my list was Sempione Park. Of course it was. I love parks, they’re my solace and my safe place. In a park it’s not weird if you’re by yourself. You can daydream, stare at stuff, wander all you like. Plus this park has a little aquarium, which was obviously of interest to me.
So there I am doing my usual exploring. The park is beautiful, it has everything you could want – grass, trees, a stream, flowers, sunshine, shade, benches. Here is where I learnt that in Italy it’s not unusual to just chat to people you don’t know. Honestly, the lady who sat on the bench next to me was fine, then the old man who sat with me on a different bench was fine. I may be British, but I can chat to a couple of Italians without freaking out.
The whole time I was trying to justify it as a cultural misunderstanding. His English was very broken, maybe these were the only conversation starters he knew. Until he tried to hold my hand. He may or may not have been a threat, but I definitely felt unsafe. I had to message Dan to ask him to phone me so I could charade my way out of the situation. This worked, just about. Even telling the guy I had to go and meet my “friend” still involved some literal running away and losing myself in a nearby street.
It’s mainly about the shops
Sometimes it’s about the art too. Shops and art are two things that don’t really excite me. Some art excites me, but not the oldy time stuff and that’s what you’ll find in Milan.
I can see why people who are into fashion and shopping love Milan so much. It’s really shiny and there is a shop for every fancy brand you can think of. Maybe I would have at least appreciated the grandeur of it had I not been so disappointed by my park experience. Still, there’s no way I would have gone in any of the shops in my Primark travelling clothes. Stares would have definitely been cast in my direction. I don’t exactly ooze fashion or money at the best of times.
Have you been to Milan, or had a bad experience in a city while travelling? Share your thoughts in the comments 🙂