Milan is not what I dreamed of when I thought of Italy before coming here. It lacks the golden light of Tuscany. The ochres of Rome. The romance of Florence and Venice. It is a “working” city—urban, almost industrial by Italian standards. I have grown to love it, with its hustle and its sense of design and its commitment to modernity and getting-the-job-done, but I crave softness and grace and romance sometimes. And sometimes, I find them—in a single vine:
Wisteria (glicine, in Italian) doesn’t have a ubiquitous presence in this city, but it appears here and there, usually rising from the ground in ancient trunks and hanging from balconies and architectural overhangs in dense, theatrical swags. It perfumes the air, shades pedestrians, and softens whatever surface hosts it.
There’s an enormous vine across the street from our house, clinging to an old building that houses a restaurant (Trentino cuisine) on the ground floor. The vine rises next to the dear, little eatery in two or more intertwined trunks, and rises up to the fifth floor, taking over balconies and downspouts in its climb up. I look at it everyday now, knowing that sooner than I’d like, the beautiful flowers which hang like phantom bunches of grapes, will wither and blow away. I thank it for dressing the stage of my continual comings and goings with an unabashed romance befitting the reason I came to this city in the first place: Love.