For this week’s Stamped, Aisha Alabi, a cybersecurity analyst and content creator, shares her post-breakup Italian adventure with one of her best friends. She talks about the loving nature of Italians and how welcomed she felt as a black woman.
This is her story as told to Okibe Attah, writer at Backdrop.
The pandemic was simmering down and travel restrictions were being lifted. I was going through a breakup and thought of going somewhere to have a change of scenery. I’d read that travelling works wonders for a broken heart.
One of my best friends, Yolisa, nudged me to go on the trip and offered to come along. She was a solid rock for me throughout that period. The day we saw that Italy was finally open to travellers from America, we booked our tickets for the very next week. This particular trip was one of my best travel experiences. I splurged a bit more than I usually do and got a business class ticket.
Before I travel, I have to feel the vibe; I have to be inspirabouted; I have dreams about it; the location has to speak to me. I create a vision board and collaborate if it’s a group trip. I plan my trips, but I’m never rigid. I go with the flow and see where the day takes me.
A fun fact about me: I don’t get jet lagged, so I’m able to function as though I live where I’m visiting. So the morning we landed, we began exploring Milan. We freshened up, walked around our hotel, Milan Suite, and had breakfast at a local shop. After breakfast, we changed into cuter outfits and went in search of vintage stores to buy some designer items.
On this trip, we didn’t look up where to go. We chose to find places by exploring like locals. It also helped that prior to this trip, I’d met a girl off TikTok, and she was so accommodating and hospitable. We’re really good friends now. I also met a football coach on my flight who’d go on to invite us out.
On the night of the day we landed, we met up with the football coach and his friends. There was a match and Italy happened to win. It was interesting to see a lot of people out to support and celebrate, chanting songs of victory. At about 10pm, we got a bit tired and went back to our hotel.
The next day, we visited some clothing stores to check out what they had. (Side bar: The Zara store in Milan was way better than what we have in America.) Later that night, a contact of ours took us to a lounge. We got lit and basically took over the place; we had them play African music the entire time. It was really cool, and people kept flocking to our table to say hello. Based on my experience, Italians are so nice. We had people approach us and ask to hang out.
On our third day in Milan, we visited Duomo di Milano, which is practically the epicentre of Milan and has everything around it. In that building, we found a rooftop cocktail bar called Terrazza Duomo 21 and instantly fell in love with it. You could see the entire city from the terrace. It had a cool vibe with music and nice drinks.
When it comes to picking restaurants, as opposed to searching for the popular places, I like to get a feel of the people, be a wanderer, smell the food and go where my spirit leads. When I do this, I tend to always have the best time. Sometimes, I get to talk to the owner(s) of the place. It’s always a great experience. For this reason, we mostly ate at small family-owned spots and always got the best service.
I also like to get a balance of the city life and a vacation vibe when I travel. So after being in Milan for four days, we went to Amalfi Coast. We arrived at Amalfi and it was incredible. In hindsight, I wish we spent more time there because it had most of what Milan had, but was more relaxing. In Amalfi, there are so many colourful stores, beautiful beaches, relaxing breeze, breathtaking views and kind people.
After day three of basking in the sun with our feet in the water, it was time to return to Milan and fly back to America. I didn’t want to leave because my expectations had been met, over and beyond.
Going through a breakup, I felt liberated on this vacation. I was so happy and present in every moment. The entire trip was magical, refreshing and character-building because it was my first time travelling without my family or boyfriend. It opened me up to a bit more independence, and I liked that.
I got to connect with Yolisa a lot more; we got closer and that was special because sisterhood is important to me. We got matching Dior wallets in commemoration of our friendship and the trip.
I enjoyed my time in Italy. I felt safe and comfortable as a black woman. I fell in love with the people, the food, Milan and Amalfi. I think everyone should go to Italy, at least once in their life. A thousand percent, I recommend. I can’t wait to go back.