The Windy City: Chicago

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Michele Moricci

CHICAGO The idea of ​​visit again the United States as soon as it was possible was our mantra. We have tried with closer destinations but nothing would be like crossing the ocean and land in America. The high prices give us a hard time, but with determination we find a solution within our budget. So on May 1st we leave for Chicago on an American Airlines flight. Right where the infamous Route 66 begins, also begins our journey.

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After the usual and grueling hours of flight we land at evening in Chicago. We arrive to Boystown: the Gay district where is located our small alternative-chic apartment.

In the morning we wake up with the sun and Starbucks good morning with Tall Cappuccino along with a huge bill. Armed with a map and guide, we plan the first stop. So after a brief tour in our neighborhood to look closely at Altavista Terrace – a group of typical townhouses dating back to the early 900 – we choose to start with the Magnificent Mile. The street of the great skyscrapers and department stores. H & M in Neiman Marcus all overlook the main street, but since we are not here to do Shopping we focus our attention on the monuments: the Water Tower survived the great fire of 1871, the highest Willis Tower and other Chicago typical shady buildings.

Once crossed the city we arrive at Lake Michigan, so unexpectedly large that it disappears on the horizon. Right here it is situated a small beach and the Navy Pier, a pier with restaurants and rides dedicated to children and adults. Lunch with Hot-Dog and Fries at Landshark Beer Garden overlooking the Lake and then go back in the “Loop” to continue toward the Millennium Park, a veritable creativity tribute to green, relaxation and post-modern architecture. But to attract our attention immediately is the Cloud Gate, designed by Anish Kapoor: a huge bean weight 110 tons reflecting the city. A little further away, in the sunny afternoon in the park, children play around the Faces Fountains which watered children by 25 meters high. And when the sky starts to get dark we go to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center to observe the city from above during sunset while skyscrapers cast their shadows on Lake Michigan. Before returning home we do a little grocery shopping by Whole Foods Market to save a bit’!

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The next day we climb aboard the “L-Train” and head to Wicker Park, the Ukrainian neighborhood. Reborn from its ashes, it turned quickly into a center of Indie boutique, restaurant and contemporary art galleries. We suddenly see an innate love for  glazed donuts, low houses with industrial colors and spacious streets along which to park the car. We eat in a little place on the street, then we walk through stores and before proceeding ahead we grab a sweet Donuts in cutesy Stan’s Donuts & Coffee. In the afternoon we go to the Museum of Contemporary Art and get lost among the poignant work of Doris Salcedo.

Tireless we jump in Chinatown but we only find a scruffy suburb and nothing more than a ghost shopping street and a square semi-deserted. Meanwhile the sun sets between the skyscrapers and all around us doesn’t seem to have lost the charm of the roaring years of Prohibition in which Al Capone commanded undisturbed. The shadows are projected on the streets full of illuminated signs and reflections of the sunset reflects between a skyscraper and the other while the music of creaking raised echoes in the city. In Chicago, you can not say no to the typical Deep Dish Pizza, a high pie and deep rich tomato and overflowing mozzarella. We choose Gino’s East, a favorite in the city and among the first to have created this local specialty. Served on a steaming cutting steel is so good and so much that – as others do – we ask to take away the leftovers.

The third day we wake up early due to jet-lag that is still felt. The first stop of the day is Old Town, a small area where townhouses are well preserved and around there are shops, restaurants and public parks. We visit the Church of St. Michael and then spend a few minutes at Greer, a delightful boutique that sells cards, posters and other stuff.

We continue in the direction of Lincoln Park, the green lung of the city, in which are located an oasis, a small farm and even a zoo. We walk and we rest before lunch in Old Town with noodles and vegetarian maki. In the afternoon we go back downtown to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. It ‘s so great that a day would not be enough so we range from Asian and native art to cubism and pop-art and finally we focus on the best-known pieces such as “Sunday at the Grande Jatte” by Seurat, “American Gothic” by Grant Wood and “The House of Vincent in Arles” by Van Gogh.

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Giovanni is curious to visit the University of Chicago. The Metra-rail line reaches to the campus in about 15 minutes and as soon as we arrive we discover a number of ancient buildings with an elegant immersed in a surreal atmosphere worthy of Harry Potter. So we return to Boystown to start packing.

The last day is cloudy and the sun gave way to a thick fog that barely lets us see the skyscrapers that dissolve shaded by a thick blanket of clouds. Although we have seen the main attractions of the Windy City, as the Americans call it, we would like to have time to see much more. We head toward the financial district, walking aimlessly and returned to Loop to lunch at Ramen-san, the top noodle bar according to a local journalist.

With luggage in hand we head towards the O’Hare International Aeroport; we will have to wait long, however, before boarding the next American Airlines plane with destination into America’s Deep South: New OrleansLouisiana.


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Michele Moricci