“Good morning!”, Carmine who lives next door greets me. He has a heavy jacket and a gray suit, and it’s almost 5 days since he’s painted the front door.
“Are you doing some artwork to be exhibited in Louvre?”, I make a lighthearted joke. He is a big man with white hair. And he is of Calabrian origin, but he had lived in Milan for many years.
“Oh yes, it takes me a lot to start, but once I’m on it, I become sooo meticulous.’’, he responds.
“Look, I also have some things that need to be fixed!”, I say laughing.
At that moment Eva comes out from her apartment next to the elevator pushing the bike that she keeps at her flat.
“Are you taking the elevator?”
“No, I’ll take the stairs”, she says, picks up the bike, takes it under her right arm and starts going down.
Eva has this penetrating look. She just smiles and always seems to be very busy. I suspect she‘s a journalist, but I never found a way of asking her about this.
The building 54 is a type of house with a railing. So, when I open the door I immediately go out to this kind of shared terrace where a whole secret world lives, hidden from the eyes of people who are passing down the street. There’s a lady with the curlers who’s stretching the laundry, but then you meet her at the bar being all dressed up, there’s a girl on the second floor wearing bathrobe while she dries her hair, but then afterwards I see her climb up her pink vespa wearing high heels; and a grandmother in a dressing gown who waters the flowers, and afterwards I see her fetching cappuccino being all wrapped-up in her fur. And the Egyptian baker from the pizzeria, which is on the ground floor, who talks all day with his relatives over the phone (actually he‘s always like that). Here, there is a hidden Milan. Vulnerable. Almost shy. Hiding behind the walls of the building, almost embarrassed to show its human side, its curlers, its washed faces, its slippers that my neighbours wear when throwing away the garbage. And the cats that run around in quiet.
I raise my hand to greet Antonio, the porter, when my phone rings.
“How’s it going in the gray wet and sad city!?”, Michela asks laughing.
“Oh yes, look who’s talking…now, it’s easy to be funny while having a beautiful view at the Ligurian sea! Look, the spring is actually coming, so you can only be jealous! As a matter of fact, the times of Milan being hungry for the sun is slowly coming to an end, my dear. It’s such a cliché.”…
“Hey stranger, but since when did you become a passionate defender of Milan?”
I open the door and go out to the street facing this city from outside of the yard. Under the November sun, so there’s a proof that the myths can totally be busted: Milan is no longer gray.