Sunday, August 12, 2012


My sister-in-law’s best friend from college, Marilyn, had been living in Milan for years  first on and-off and now pretty much full-time  lucky for us we would staying with her and her husband Doug. To give you a sense of the size of their place, let me say this  the hallway of this enormous apartment was like an extra-long beautifully polished lane of a bowling alley. The living room had three sofas in a U-shaped arrangement; each was at least seven or eight feet long! It was perfectly lovely, wonderfully comfortable, and welcoming. 

When you go to Milan there’s one sight that is central to everything else: The Duomo. Now there are duomos and duomos and duomos throughout Italy (more duomos than drugstores it seems) but this is THE duomo in Milan and it is magnificent. I’d been there more than 25 years before and climbed to the top with my friend Carol and spent an incredible afternoon perched out on the marble roof while eating our lunch amid the gargoyles and angels. This visit I took “the lift” instead of the 200+ steps and stared out past the statues over the rooftops under the broiling sun. 

On top of each spire is full-sized statue! 

Once inside the cool cathedral my eyes naturally look down at the unbelievably beautifully inlaid floors...

You can’t do Milan and not see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Groups of 25 are ushered in to a big hall to gaze upon the frescoed on a wall at the surprised faces surrounding Jesus’ table as he tells his disciples that one of them will betray him. At the other end of the hall in the Santa Maria delle Grazie, there’s another magnificent fresco of the Crucifixion. Technology will bring these views to you at this link.

Though the Brea is the largest museum of Milan we opt for seeing the 
Ambrosiana Pinacoteca (art gallery) and Biblioteca (library) instead  and while I can't remember all that we saw there, the outstanding exhibit was the Codex Atlanticus, a collection of over 1700 pages of DaVinci's drawings portraying inventions and people and of course the flying machines, Ventricular man, anatomy, levers and pulleys  but also the position of the moon, sun and earth, cranes and screws, light and shadow, even a plan for a series of canals to connect places in Florence.  Yes, the man was a genius and it was genius of the sculptor Pompeo Leoni to collect this trove of Leonardo's work in the 1500s for us to be dazzled by today.

Everyone says Milan’s so industrial but I love it. It’s a great mix of old and new — perfectly depicted by the Museo di Milano e Storia Contemporanea exhibits in the Palazzo Morando, housing the Countess Bolognini's collection of porcelain, sculptures and other objects in what were her private apartments as it was during the Napoleonic era.

Juxtaposed with this opulent look at the past are the marvelous contemporary exhibits on the ground floor.  We were lucky enough to see the fabulous designs in conjunction with the Woolmark Company  celebrating the look of wool.

Chess anyone?
Check out those mitten-pockets!
This array of creative clothing is helping this place live up to its name (the Museum of Contemporary History)  because today  the title of "Fashion Capital of the World" belongs  in large part to Milano.  

On to Lake Maggiore...

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