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Archive for March, 2011

I didn’t take his photo though. I probably could have – a little girl stuck her camera right through the grate and got a shot of the vested skeleton and no one stopped her. But it just didn’t feel right to me. Maybe because the boys were with me and I didn’t want to model “getting a good shot” as even Step Two (after “pray”) in “What To do in the Presence of Important Saints’ Relics.”

 

Sant’ Ambrogio Basilica

 

Can you see the weasel or ferret or whatever to the right? We were just standing there not looking at it, when a man strode up, tapped Michael on the top of the head, made faux surprised noises, said something in Italian, pointed at the creature and strode on.

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Today is the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification.  The Duomo Square was hopping tonight – perhaps it always is, but it really was crowded.  A few guys selling stuff. We gave in and got a couple of light-up flying things that you propel with a rubber band.  Even sleek Milanese men in their suits and black topcoats were getting them and shooting them into the air. The rain has finally moved on. It was a cool, clear night in a beautiful setting.

 

It’s been too rainy to get to the top of the Duomo, so tomorrow we’ll try to do that (you can walk on the roof). I really wanted to go to the Duomo museum, but everything I find indicates that it’s closed for renovations.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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Milan Aquarium (Small but free.)

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The store where I got this had the Purgatorio as well (but not the Inferno) – but only in Italian – sadly.  This was the best I could do in the  English-language “Dante for Fun” area.

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Castello Sforzesco. Late 14th-early 15th century.  There was another crucifix in another part of the museum with a corpus without any hair. The description on that one said that the corpus was intended to bear a wig to make it more lifelike. I don’t know – but I’m assuming it’s the same for this.  Whatever the case I admit that I do find it quite striking as it is.

Santa Maria Delle Grazie.

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Santa Maria Delle Grazie , Milan

Yes, we are in Milan, thanks to Spring Break and a whim birthed by a ridiculous fare sale that popped up a couple of months ago. ($250 from NYC to Milan, in case you were wondering.  Those in the know who post on message boards concluded that it was a mistake fare – that a surcharge for codeshared flights had failed to be added.)

I will be writing about the trip in more detail later.  A few observations for now, and more photographs as we go on:

*Milan is generally badmouthed as a travel destination. Even an Italian I was talking to in Birmingham sneered, sniffed, and brushed off Milan when I told him about this. But then when I told him that I’d considered just using Milan as an arrival and departure point for a week in a certain city to the east, he proceeded to sneer, sniff and brush off Venice as well.  So I’m thinking he’s not going to be my Italian travel go-to-guy.

*That said, Milan is certainly different.  It doesn’t seem to be a strolling-around city in the same way that Rome is.  The frequent and constant conquests and changes in regime over the centuries as well as Allied bombings have left it without the “layering” you find in other Italian cities. It’s a city about its own business and is not oriented to the tourist trade at all so I  can see how tourists on a schedule would find it a challenge and decide to focus on a few major sites – the Duomo, the Last Supper and the Castle Sforzesco – and move on.

Not us! We’re here for the week – with some side trips depending on the weather and our moods (Cremona? Bergamo? Pavia?) and despite that weather (it’s rained steadily) have enjoyed ourselves so far and have seen quite a bit.

*We saw The Last Supper today – it is in the Cenacolo connected to the church in the photograph above.  Given the works’ iconic stature, the Brown-grown silliness about it, and even the toll that time and restoration has taken upon it, I was surprised to find myself so moved by the experience.  The presentation of the piece is extremely well-done – the impact is far greater than the checked-that-one-off conclusion that I expected.

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Milano.

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