Since Milan is known as the center of the world for prêt-à-porter (or as it is more commonly referred to: “ready-to-wear”) clothing, I was fully expecting to get a lot of shopping done on this leg of the trip. Not only was I not disappointed by the variety of designer shops and affordable stores there, I was also pleasantly surprised to find that we had arrived during the peak season for sales in Milan. Filled to the brim with fashion choices, Milan was quite the industrious center and was very modernized considering the fact that it was once just a small Italian city. Our first planned activity in Milan was a walking tour of the major shopping districts near the first shopping mall in the world, which is called the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy Vittorio Emanuele. While on the tour we were informed that the original reason why people began to flock to Milan was because fashion designers had started to set up shops here and had begun to compete with each other in this area. The biggest two competitors in this city were the world reknowned designers Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace. These two designers could not have been more dissimilar in their chosen styles of dress, and yet this was the very fact that probably made them such ardent rivals in order to prove that their aesthetic was more appealing to the masses. Giorgio Armani was the undisputed king of dark colors and simple silhouettes, while Gianni Versace was the sultan of shining colors and embellishment. The fierce competition between these two world class artists was one of the major draws of Milan during that time as well, because each individual was trying to outdo the other with their grandiose displays of talent. Eventually the battle between the two designers got so fierce that they both decided to stage a runway show on the same day at the same time in order to see whose turnout was more successful. This raging war was brought to a sudden halt though when Gianni Versace was tragically shot and killed in Miami, leaving Giorgio Armani without anyone to test his skills against. Since the end of this famous fued, Milan has continued to prosper and has become quite the industrial center for fashion and shopping. This was clearly evidenced by the fact that nearly every single person that I saw in the streets had some sort of designer product or accessory on their person, and was dressed in easy to wear high fashion. Even the nightlife in Milan is focused on the promotion of high-fashion brands. For instance, one night in Milan me and a small group of girls decided to try to get into Roberto Cavalli’s self-titled club “Just Cavalli.” Once inside, it was clear that the entire club was focused not just on partying, but also on displaying a clear brand message to the attendees, which included several product placements including Roberto Cavalli label vodka. This kind of promotion of a lifestyle for a brand is very helpful in creating and maintaining a label’s longevity in the market. While still visiting Milan, our group decided to also venture out into the biggest silk producing city in Italy, which is known as Como. In Como, we attended an exhibit on the production and manufacturing of silk products in the Silk Musuem or Museo Didattico della Seta as it is known in Italian. Inside the museum were several old machines (that were actually still functional) that were used in tandem with silk worms to create their luxurious finsihed product before modern machinery was introduced. Como itself was the main hub for silk production because it is the most arid and rainy part of Italy, and it contains the most water. This area also had an abundance of mulberry bushes, the leaves of which are the silk worm’s primary dietary choice. The scenery and landscape of Como was simply astounding to see and it was a nice break to be surrounded by nature and water after being so crowded all of the time in Milan. Since this is the second to last leg of my trip I am getting sad to leave Europe, but I am ecstatic to finally be able to see Florence for the first time though!