The Following represent my personal opinions and should in no way reflect the opinions of any other.

Each weekend I’ve been taking long walks through Milan. One of my favorites was last weekend – a great walk from Bocconi University down Viale Blingy to Ptza. XXIV di Marzo. After, I walked down along the canals and took photos of what I found. Many interesting little buildings. I found a cathedral which had been bombed and rebuilt, all the stained glass finally replaced. However, its front entrance was still covered in cement. The rose window and those facing the canals bricked up.

At the end of the shops along the canal was an old transportation depot which looked to have burned and never been rebuilt. I wandered inside and took some pictures in the areas that I felt were structurally safe enough to remain for more than a few seconds. It had been used extensively for the homeless population but it also looked like an area where stolen baggage and belongings were rifled through and then thrown into the rubble. I spent a little time there as I wanted to get some photos and some video. I also encountered two young girls doing the same. You’ll see them in two of my photos. They were nice but wary of another person being in such a possibly unsafe space. I’m sure they were freaked out as it was.

I use the Duomo square as a return point and I try to take new pictures each time I leave and enter it. These last two weekends have seen major political protests and on Saturday the 21st I encountered my first march. It was interesting to say the least. Hundreds of Black and Italian men with whistles and massive red flags marching. There were only a few Italians that I could see and the posters they marched with read FREE AFRICA –

I see remnants of the OBEY posters, a movement condemning media as propaganda. They remind me of a select few people who used to wear shirts for the movement years ago. I’m steadily tagging them as they come to mind. It’s interesting that only remnants of these posters remain. I wonder who initiated the movement to tear them down? The government? Interesting to find out.

The canals themselves are remnants of the city before Mussolini. They govern how the city was designed and how it was initially laid out. Very interesting to say the least. I’ll need to go through and find myself a map of the old canal system in order to better understand how Milan developed its different sectors – industrial, residential, etc.

I took a trip to Verbania which was amazing. We went to Lake Maggiore and visited the Prefect, Mayor, and the President of the Province. After, we had a working lunch and I had a chance to discuss energy initiatives and redevelopment projects in northern Italy with one of the President’s lunch guests. She has promised to send me a project she’s working on so that I may further my research. After. I convinced them to take a small rest stop in a beautiful lakeside town fenced in by the Alps and nestled into a bend in the lake. I took some great scenic photos and had a wonderful walk through the little town.

Economically and financially Italy is extremely interesting. Its highly conservative banking system saved it from the major credit and financial crunch in the last year, however, it is now starting to see some of the effects. As the city is set to begin waking up once again (spring is coming) it will be interesting to see how many of these closed doors and shops will stay open.

Politically, Italy is a mess..But I suppose that is well known. The system seeks increased federalism and the constitution calls for increased levels of autonomy however, the ability to actually enact it is lacking. It is difficult to gauge Italian political preference or support as a 45% vote preference is often the wining coalition – truly popular groups/individuals attain more like 60%+. Unlike the U.S. political system there are not simply 2 parties… but rather tens of parties and they run individually or as part of a coalition. Said coalitions ask that their members vote along party lines however they are not always able to secure their constituent’s votes. The fragmentation yields confusion and difficulty in finding any sort of accord. The votes in April and June will attempt to reform the process… if they pass. We’ll see.

Italian culture surprises me every day. The first few times you meet someone (unless you are introduced by a close friend of theirs) they are relatively reserved and formal. However, once you’re in, you’re in. Food, drink, conversations – it all becomes communal. A wonderful family substitute for travelers. It’s made my stay here much easier.