One of the most amazing experiences I’ve had was going to the Cimitero Monumentale, a cemetery for the modern elite of Milan. At the cemetery, there are tombs and crypts lining the walkways, with beautiful vegetation accompanying them. The park is completely silent, for the most part, even though there are families, couples, friends and tourists traveling the paths in order to commune with the deceased.
Starting from the entrance, you’re immediately bombarded with the sheer immensity of what you’re about to see.
I went to the cemetery alone, on a day when the rest of my friends were traveling without me. I was spending the weekend alone in my apartment, and I needed to get out of the house and see some things. I was also going through a lot of personal problems. I was a bit confused as to wether I could take pictures or not, but other Italians were, and nobody was saying anything, so I figured it would be fine.
The graves and tombs were elaborate—clearly the result of having a wealthy family. I was in awe. As I walked down the paths, I teared up, realizing the frail nature of life. It was an eye opening experience. I hadn’t been in a cemetery in years. It had a profound effect on me.
This is the crematorium, the first in Europe, if I remember correctly. It was a beautiful building, filled with flowers and love from the families.
There were hallways and hallways, all like this. People had left notes to the deceased. You really have to respect how the dead aren’t forgotten. We, as humanity, carry them on in our own unique ways.
This was my favorite. She was a young girl who died around 1917 or so, way before her time. The torn dress, the purple color, the newly placed flowers—I fell in love.
Staying until the cemetery closed at six, I walked until my legs were sore, reading as many epitaphs as I could. It’s not enough to just visit a place like this; you have to devote your time into understanding who these people were, and what their families felt was necessary to leave behind.
I left the cemetery listening to one of my favorite bands. I walked down the street and took a metro into the city center, and headed into a McDonalds. I ate a dinner that reminded me where I had come from. I finished in silence, missing home.