A wet ride from Milan Centrale almost set the tone for this junket.
I admit, the thought of staying indoors was tempting….the hotel…the wonderful breakfast buffet!!!! Ah!!!!
What do you do when bad weather prevails in a city you’ve waited a lifetime to see? While rain watching from a warm, dry bed with the covers pulled up to my chin and a cappuccino for a companion sounded wonderful, it was not practical or possible. The only option was to grab waterproof shoes and jump right into the middle of a soggy, foggy Milano. Where to jump in? ….. The only question.
First stop had to be Il Duomo di Milano or Milan’s cathedral simply called Duomo. A rainy twilight did nothing to dampen the experience, and the dark of night made it even better. Duomo is magnificent.
I was amazed to learn that the entire outside of the Romanesque Gothic structure of this church has been replaced at least once since it was started in 1386. The older parts either were destroyed when they fell from the cathedral, sold off when they had to be replaced, or put in a museum.
As in most churches of the Middle Ages, a large public area sits right in front of the church. Milano’s Duomo is no different, except the square is enormous and filled with what seems like continuous activity. The first night I was there, a demonstration supporting Sri Lanka was taking place.
Rain or shine, these fellas are always in the square.
The inside of the church is no less grand than the outside. Your gaze is constantly being forced upward toward heaven.
The largest stained glass windows in the world are located in this Duomo. Before the masses of people could read, lessons from the Bible were taught visually.
All Bible lessons were not taught by stained glass. A statue of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle presents the saint’s tale in all its horror. The saint is depicted with his skin hanging from his shoulder, in reference to how he was flayed alive in punishment for converting the king of Armenia to Christianity. I have to admit, it was difficult for me to take my eyes off this statue. The saint stands on a pedestal. All his muscles are exposed because his skin has been removed from his body. The skin hangs around the body like a shawl. You can even see how the skin of the face and hands were removed, all intact. However, the look on Bartholomew’s face is defiant, and the shadow that the stature casts behind is quite frightening. The sculpture makes the point about staying true to Jesus even at the greatest personal cost. The artist responsible for this masterpiece is Marco d’Agrate; it has been in the cathedral since 1562.
Turning my attention to the shopping that Milan has to offer was not difficult. In a word, the shopping goes beyond the expectations of even the most jaded of shoppers. All the big names are located in Milan, but it is the smaller houses that draw the most attention. It is, however, possible to find the name of an old, familiar friend….always nice!!!!
The highlight of this Milano junket was our chance to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. The security surrounding this work of art is tight. The entire security thing is totally understandable due to the mishaps this particular work as already undergone. Because of some unfortunate acts, Last Supper is only 30% original work. Poor decisions about how it was kept, bumbling choices over how to restore it, misinformation as to the true value of the painting, and war have left Last Supper as it is today, greatly deminished….and with all that….still unbelievably beautiful and totally unforgettable. My shaking hands were only able to capture these poor images. Forgive me!
This work of art is located in Santa Maria del Grazie. It was commissioned by Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan in the year 1495. It was finished in 1498, making the painting 500 years old. Where you see the dark areas of color, you are looking at original pigment. All else is restoration.
The time allotted to visit with the painting is 15 minutes. This is not nearly long enough.
In order to make sure that your return visit to Milan is certain, you must grind your foot into the testicles of a mosaic bull and turn around three times. The mosaic is located in the center of a crowded promenade, but many people patiently await a turn.
I hope I will be able to return to Milan; I would like to see it when the sun is shinning.
Time to leave Milan, and I am leaving it pretty much the same way I found it, wet and soggy….but just add wonderful!
See you in Florence…Love, The Unseasoned Traveler.