I went to visit Milan for the weekend. And of course shit was to be learned. Unlikely shit to learn in Milan, if I am to be honest, but here goes.
Animal related learnings
Kangaroos can swim
I am Australian and I had to find this out from a Venezuelan dude that works behind the hostel desk…. Probably because I have never seen it happen because living in drought country doesn’t really lend itself to there being loads of water.
Mosquitoes are arseholes
I go to sleep. The high pitched squealing of these bitches are buzzing around my head and I can’t sleep. At some point, because all of the rest of my body is covered with blanket, the mosquito decides to bite me on my eye socket. I awaken with my eye swollen shut. Excellent. So the following evening I ask for fly spray. Spray the room. Go to sleep. Wake up to find that my other eye has now been bitten and that this one is now also swollen shut. Fuck you mosquitoes. So much for looking pretty in pictures in Milan. I tried most of the time in my make-up-less state to not look like a victim of violence. The Venezuelan and I decided that the only thing on this planet that mosquitoes are good for are feeding spiders.
The glorious guide I had on my free walking tour, Marco, was an incredible wealth of knowledge, if not slightly unhinged. I watched this outstanding bad ass ask the masses if we mind him smoking then proceed to pull out and chuff on a cigar around the city, no hands. Anyway, he has this thing about etymology. I am unsure whether any of the following is true but they are entertaining so here we go:
In the 1500’s the country now known as Sri Lanka was called Serendip. The king of Serendip, being an all round conquering wench of the time, sent an army to India in search of gold to make him rich. The did not find any gold. However they did discover that glorious thing called ‘tea’. The tea ended up making the king more money than he would have made finding the gold. Thus serendipity – finding something you weren’t looking for that is of greater value to you than the thing you actually were looking for.
Upon the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in New York, a company was contracted to make miniature souvenirs for people to take home. The company making them was a French company who was owned by a man named ‘Gaget’, pronounced ‘gah-zhay’. Anyway, as we like to do in the English language, we took this work and Anglicised/butchered it to its current pronunciation ‘gad-get’. This is still the word used in Italian to describe souvenirs, however through the progression of the times, we have now come to use the word to describe electronics.
From the Italian, ‘banca rota’. When a merchant in Milan was in massive debt and unable to pay that debt back they would repossess all of his things and have a sale to get all of the money back. At the end of the sales, they used to break his desk – the thing he would use for selling his merchandise. This breaking, ‘rota’ being the word for ‘to break’ became a tradition. The banca rota. Which again, when Anglicised/butchered, becomes known as ‘bankrupt’ in English.
Other random shit
The Visconti family had the emblem of a viper snake eating a man, despite the fact that vipers are small and cannot eat a man. It is believed that they stole this from some family they conquered somewhere else in the world. Anyway, this is now the symbol of the city of Milan and can also be found in the Alpha Romeo car logo.
One family in Milan back in the day who’s name translated into ‘testicles’ decided that their family coat of arms should just consist of three testicles. And so it was.
Oh and while I was there I also saw a guy making music by running a violin bow along the sharp edge of a saw used for cutting wood.
And so, as my tour concluded, the tour guide took us to the most provocative piece of art in the city located outside of the stock exchange. And it was there that both he and the stock exchange, gave us the finger and stole our money and left. THE END.
And that shall be the end of the shit! Enjoy your week!