Archive for the ‘Milan’ Category

Strada Nuova, Pavia

Took a thirty-minute train ride to Pavia this afternoon.  It was marvelous. A bustling, walkable, compact little city, a university town (the University of Pavia being one of the oldest in Europe – currently celebrating its 650th anniversary).  A market featuring chocolates, other candies and baked goods.  St. Augustine and Boethius.  Quite something.

Corridor, University of Pavia

Chocolate Sicily (the rest of Italy above. I wasn’t tall enough to get a good panoramic shot, even holding the camera above my head)

Exterior of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro

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Your Father Knows

It was certainly grand being atop the Duomo today.

We showed up there about 11:30 and found the line to climb the stairs up to the top quite long. Too long for us at that moment, certainly, so we decided to do something else and see if the line might be shorter in a couple of hours.

So we walked through the Galleria to see the statue of Leonardo that stands tall in front of La Scala. Michael gave us a speech in which he declared that it wasn’t fair that Leonardo got a big statue while all the people who actually built the models of his drawings that we saw yesterday in the science museum were ignored.

I then decided that I wanted to find the Alessi store which I’d marked as one of my few shopping destinations. We found where it used to be – it’s moved. Not too far away, but far enough. So we turned up and found Via Dante, obtained snacks and walked for a bit up to the American Bookstore where I replenished the nighttime reading supply. By the time we returned to the Duomo, the line had dwindled to nothing, and we climbed right up…the 100+ stairs. Which was not as bad as a German on the way had led me to believe as he passed us, counting. He was at about 92,  we let him edge by us, then he turned and said, “There’s over 500, you know.”  I was relieved to find him wrong.

Anyway, the point of this post was not to be a travelogue, but a note on what my thoughts kept returning to while we were up there amid the grandeur, reflecting on the astonishing accomplishment and all it meant.

I kept coming back to this:


In a corner, facing into the building, a hundred feet up in the air.

When it was carved, before the era of tourists tramping through, who would see it? Who would ever notice the perfect little plant hiding there? Who would praise it, write about it, celebrate it, give its creator a bonus for it? No one, probably.

But there it grows, beauty hidden from every eye but God’s, and that, it seems, is enough.


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Excavations under the Milan Duomo have uncovered remnants of the Basilica of St. Tecla – the episcopal complex of ancient Milan (although it was not named “St. Tecla” until the 8th century.)

Also down there is the baptistry where – it is said – Ambrose baptized Augustine.

With a few steps, we arrived at this spot today. Above us in the Duomo were mobs of people – as busy as St. Peter’s. Down here, we were all alone:


The site was apparently discovered during excavations for the M1 Metro line, and there’s a door through which you can see a passageway to the Metro and busy travelers, if they bother, can also see in:

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Reconstructed monastic apothecary. Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum.

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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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