Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Why move to Milan?

No-one knows who James Corden is in Milan. He's not on TV, he's not in the 'papers and he sure as hell isn't driving down my street like a haughty little bullock. (I used to live in Belsize Park.) I don't have to see him, listen to him or hear about him. And that alone is reason to emigrate.* But why Milan?

“Cold and sad” is how a southern Italian summed up the city when I was planning a holiday a few years back. The phrase exhumed itself into my consciousness when I accepted the job here. I mentioned it to a Milanese guy I met. "I can see why people would think that" he said, unpromisingly. 

To be honest, Milan was not quite my plan. My plan was a new job in southern Europe and nice food but also a beach and sun. My first choice was Athens because Greece is a vine around my soul. But I went to Athens and got offered next to nothing for three separate jobs. And I couldn't afford a 75% salary cut. So I kept looking. And I was looking too at Barcelona and Rome. And I got an interview in Rome. But it was cancelled, last minute. So I kept looking. And then I got an interview in Barcelona. But that was a weird experience. So I kept looking. And blah, blah, blah.

By this point, I'd handed in notice for my job and flat in London so tension was rising. And I saw the job in Milan and the ad mentioned the possibility of working remotely after the probation period was over. And I applied. And they wanted me. And that was it. Here I am; almost before I knew it.

La dolce vita

There are several positives: it's in Italy, it's decent money, I get put up in a fancy place while I look for a flat, my company will pay for some Italian lessons and location-wise, Lake Como is to Milan what Chipping Ongar is to London.

In fact, there are seven different countries within 100 miles of my new home. I can pop to places I've never been (Monaco, Lichtenstein, San Marino) or stick with what I know and spend my weekends in France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Slovenia's not far away either. Then there's Italy itself. Don't feel too sorry for me.

I love this country's food, its café culture, its weather (maybe Milan's not so much), its architecture, the expressiveness of its people, and its countryside. In the end, it was easiest to commit to staying in Milan for a whole year rather than moving here briefly and immediately upping sticks to somewhere sunnier a few hundred miles south. However, working remotely remains a possible option for next year. Where I'll end up, I'm uncertain. In the meantime, I intend to gorge myself on all the culture and adventure Milan has to offer. And a lot of its pizza.

* There were other reasons; principally the weather, but also the desire to try living in a new culture and learning a new language.

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