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ANGELICA HICKS

Being Milanese is not a question of birthplace, it’s a state of mind. Although the city’s natives deny it, the Milanese actually come from all over the world. But there are a number of behavioural traits and attitudes one has to adopt if one wants to be a true Milanese.

 

The Milanese are always in a hurry, but they’re never late. They organise their day so as not to waste a minute: they put their bike helmet on while they’re still going down in the lift, they take their underground ticket from their pocket a hundred yards before the turnstiles. The Milanese feel guilty if they don’t work at least nine hours a day, and at the same time they feel guilty if they don’t find time for themselves and their friends. And so, they do not neglect their social life. Throughout the year there are several events one simply must attend, or rather, often just “drop in for a while”. One must learn the Milanese calendar: Fashion Week in February and September, the Furniture Show in April. The Orticola show in May is key; a showcase for Italian plant nurseries, held in the Giardini Indro Montanelli park, and its profits are spent on city landscaping. But it doesn’t count to attend unless you wear a hat that is dripping with flowers. Only on these rare occasions do the Milanese stay in Milan for the weekend, otherwise they go to Forte dei Marmi or Courmayeur, where they will only frequent their Milanese acquaintances. Despite their many commitments, the quality of life for Milanese people is very high. Milan knows it is a financial capital but it never forgets it’s also an Italian city, and it maintains said fundamental values. Therefore, even the busiest business people find time to enjoy good food and spend time with their family and friends.

 

During the week, when they leave the office, they go and enjoy the aperitif ritual. Every Milanese has a preferred bar where they drink “the usual” when there aren’t other events to go to (there are no “parties” in Milan, only events). Each occasion calls for the perfect outfit, which the Milanese will flaunt while pretending they grabbed the first thing they saw in their wardrobe. Personal care and meticulous dressing are absolutely essential, but both are done without exaggeration.Wherever they go, the Milanese never think twice about parking creatively: they cross any yellow or blue lines and tend to prefer pavements, pedestrian crossings and traffic islands.

 

Does this describe you? Even this is not enough. To be a Milanese through and through you have to also know how to discuss–with the “open E” of a classic Milanese accent–the merits of Luini’s panzerotti (half-moon-shaped fried dough filled with tomato and mozzarella) and your love for the traditional cotoletta ( a veal cutlet). There’s just one detail that can often reveal the “faux” Milanese: the definite article. In Milan, there is no Giovanni alone, there’s THE Giovanni and, like him, THE Luisa or, to say it like a Milanese, LA Pina and IL Giacomo.

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