I like Milan, and I like Milan's green balconies and terraces. Now we have our own green on our own balconies. Also zucchinis.

Milan is trending now. It is Italy’s coming-of-age city of the 21st century. (That will be a recurring topic on this blog, I suppose.) Once a city that did not have many friends, “I like Milan” is getting a common statement. Me, too, I like Milan. But as a matter of fact, I like Milan since my first visit to the city back in 2009, way before it was trending.

Aside of the impressively monumental city center, I felt instant attractions to Milan’s green balconies and terraces. Admittedly, parks are small and trees are rare in many parts of the city, while buildings are abundant and tall. I often feel that buildings tend to be just about two to three floors too high. I got quite used to 4-floor buildings in Berlin (five floors if they were built after the war) and to 3-floor buildings in the Netherlands. Milan’s standard height is eight floors. Yet, streets are narrow quite often, and this may leave a rather overwhelming impression of urbanity.

Look up a bit, though, and many of those houses actually appear much more human. Huge bushes, even trees manifest the ambition of milanesi to green-up their city. Bosco Verticale, one of Milan’s most recent landmarks, is essentially only a supersized reference to something the milanesi have down for years.

The girl’s parents are a striking example of that, as are our same-floor neighbors in the opposite tower. In between both towers of our building instead, we are looking down on a big black square of roofing felt. In our dreams, we turn this into a publicly accessible grass. But in reality, we’ve taken much lighter ambition.


It started from the first basil plant that I didn’t kill within a week, and our last Christmas tree, which I killed within three weeks. Going from there, the girl added thyme and oregano. Ultimately, one of the girl’s closest friends, A. (who is the freezing photographer from the photo above), inspired us to go beyond herbs and grow some veggies, too. We got us some huge and some small pots, added lavender, myrtle, rosemary, and planted cilantro, chive (we call it bieslook, because I only learned the correct term when writing this sentence), parsley, and zucchini.

This week, the girl is in Rotterdam for work. When she is back, very likely we will harvest our first own salad. (Oh, yes! We also planted salad.) The zucchinis are growing strong. I’m just glad that we picked a type of baby zucchinis. I still remember how we got flooded in zucchinis when my Mum’s ex-boyfriend planted them in the garden. Every Friday and every Saturday was zucchini day. At some point, I couldn’t see them anymore, and that antipathy lasted for years.

But don’t expect me to grow avocado or artichokes anytime soon.

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