From NYC to Malpensa, we boarded a 10-hour flight that would forever change my life. Europe, I was so ready for you. To my surprise, Italy and Rome are the only cities in Italy that allow Uber with the exclusive use of Uber X. This probably explains why every time I requested a ride, a gorgeous fine-looking man would pick me up. Think George Clooney meets Alessio Boni, fully dressed in 90’s style driving Italian Luxury wheels. Oh ragazzo, was I in for a treat!

Sleepless and exhausted, Marilyn and I went straight from the airport to our little picturesque Airbnb apartment situated right in the heart of the Milan Fashion District. Funny story; the apartment was on the sixth floor with no elevator. Just six flights of stairs. Now, can you picture me carrying up 14 days’ worth of outfits? And let me tell you, I do not pack light. I was so eager and ready to dive into my European adventure that I may just have lost a bit of my glamour. I quickly changed and got ready. No makeup. No glam. Just me, myself, a pair of sneakers and my longing desire to explore.

I could not contain the amount of excitement and adrenaline in my body. There was absolutely no time to waste. We had 7 days to work and I wanted to make sure we made the best out of them.

Absolutely everything I saw and everything I experienced was bigger and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I was amazed by all the buildings that surrounded me. The architecture was quintessential - ancient yet very elegant. There were many trees with no leaves and fern absolutely everywhere. The weather was perfect to say the least. Crisp and cool. Not humid, not hot. It was 8:00 AM and nothing was open for business. I was ready to indulge in an Italian breakfast but I would have to wait as I came to learn that all businesses open at 10:00 AM. Scusa?

2 hours later and a hole in my stomach, I walked into a small café and put my amateur Italian skills to the test! I desperately needed my daily dose of caffeine so I tried to order a regular coffee. “Un café per favore,” I said to the old gentleman behind the counter. I guess he did not understand me as he responded with a fairly puzzled look and said “Que cosa”?? An espresso?” I said no. I actually hate espresso. I wanted a regular coffee. “Americano?” he asked. Si, Si. I responded. My first interaction with a local and even with a language barrier the whole experience was total bliss.

Hands down, this was the best mini americano I have ever had in my entire life. I am not even joking. I will never forget the rich taste of Italian coffee in my tastebuds. No need for cream, less for sugar. It was perfect just as is. 1 Euro and a couple of minutes later we were ready to go. Off to the first market!

Design and Style Out of This World We got picked up in a black Mercedes by Manuel, another hot Uber driver. I was totally digging this. Mipel was the first market we went to. Words can not fully describe this experience. I was completely speechless. The market was the size of Disneyland, only better. Now, Milan is part of the “Big Five” in the fashion industry, meaning it is one of the top 5 most influential capitals of the fashion industry. In an instant, you see all sorts of people walking effortlessly chic without even trying. It seemed like it was a requisite to go around life looking chic and dressing fabulously from head to toes. Later, I came to find this was the “Milanese” way of life, and I was fitting right in.

Imagine this, different generations of designers, sewers, sketching artists, pattern-makers, and artists, who were far advanced in the skill. It completely blew my mind. All in an outdoor venue where you had to go within each specific section to discover something new, just like Disneyland. There were hundreds of booths. So many I just didn’t know where to begin. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins and the Americano starting to kick in. First stop, shoes!

The thing that strikes me the most about shoes, is that they are so far ahead in style. Almost futuristic. So much different than everything we see from designers in the US. The designs are original and innovative. Not to mention the lower prices, MAMMA MIA! Every shoe designer I met, every shoe I touched, every piece I tried on, I was completely fascinated by the innovative and different style I was experiencing. Nothing like American fashion I will tell you that. I was so lost in the midst of so many options from men’s and women’s, to the people and the vendors. I was loving every single second of it. As I walked down aisle per aisle, I questioned myself, why had no one been brave enough to travel outside the country and bring back a world full of treasures and unique merchandise. For sure, there was a missing piece from Italy to the US. Was this my calling?

As we explored Micam and other markets, I fell in love with skull Swarovski umbrellas, unique high-quality leather mini handbags, cowhide leather handbags, silk scarves, men’s jewelry, and women’s fashion jewelry. In other words, I loved it all. I felt an overwhelming sensation where I almost couldn’t breathe. It was all so overwhelming but in a good way. So much excitement for one day. How could this even be real?

Unfortunately, as we explored the Micam market, the jewelry vendors were beginning to pack up. It was their last day. I began to feel anxiety as I should have seen all of the jewelry before anything else. How could this slip by me? Had I known, I wish I would have started there instead of the other places. There was just so much to see and so little time. I took a moment to meditate. “Gesuina”, I said to myself. “It is only the first day - chill out! It’s not even the “White Show” and the impulsiveness of your Sagittarius is starting to come out. Pace yourself.”

Ok. Time for a new game plan. I would need to go through as many aisles as I possibly could and exchange cards with all of the vendors. After all, I still had 7 days to make appointments or touch base with them. I still had time to make it work. I was going to make this work.

I was physically exhausted from a 10-hour flight with absolutely no sleep and I had immediately jumped into the game. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, I simply could not let time pass me by. I had to bring my A-game. Mind over matter, Let’s go!

Day 2… to be continued!