Sunday, April 1, 2007

Trip to Milan

While Nick was visiting, he wanted to visit Milan. He is in Fashion Design school, so it only made sense to visit one of the Fashion Capitals of the world. We traveled by train to Milan, which took about 3 hours. The trains are very comfortable, and not very expensive. It cost 33 euro each way (About $100). We traveled second class, and had reserved seats. The reserved seats for second class resemble airplane seats. There are 4 seats in a group, 2 facing the other two divided by a table in the middle. There are electrical outlets for computers and IPOD plug ins, and a restaurant car on the train. It wasn’t very crowded, and most of the people were quiet and considerate.

In Milan, there are not too many historic sites to see. Much of the city was destroyed in WWI and WWII. The Duomo in Milan is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world and is built in the Gothic style. Nick and I did go inside this, and also went up on the roof, which was magnificent! The weather while we were visiting was great, so our roof top time was a lot of fun. It was a clear day and the view of Milan was nice.

There is a shopping mall and area called Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle which is on Corso Vittorio Emmanuel, and another shopping area called the Golden Rectangle. These areas have store after store of Italian designers. Armani has a huge department store that take up a block. Things in these stores are not cheap! We did only window shopping.

We visited La Scale, which is the famous Opera House of Italy, and one of the most important in the world. I would like to go back to see an opera there during my time here. The outside is very plain, but the inside (which they will not allow photos of) is unbelievably opulent.
The highlight of the trip was a visit to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s "The Last Supper". Tickets to this event are virtually impossible to get without a 6-8 week advance, but I was able to secure a 3 ½ hour city tour that included this. There is a lot of security to get in. I think there are about 3 chambers that you have to enter through secure glass doors, before actually entering the room where the painting is. The painting is of course, breathtaking, but what I didn’t know was how close it came to being destroyed in the wars! The walls to each side of it were completely destroyed! Of course there is a lot of discussion about the poor condition that the painting is in, but it looked much better than I expected! It was painted in 1453, so Jeez! What do you expect. Anyway, something about the dry technique he used versus the typical wet technique that other fresco painters used causes it to deteriorate much more easily.

I have had, and seen this same reaction to works of art a few times in my life. For me, I can remember having that awe struck, chin dropping, feel like you are going to burst into tears (and I have) feeling when I saw The Sistine Chapel, Van Gogh’s, O Starry Night, Rembrandt’s The Boating Party, Michelangelo’s David, and I definitely had it here at "The Last Supper".

Our last evening there we lucked into a fabulous restaurant called Torianna 25. It was right across the street from our hotel, but we noticed that it had a Michelin sign on it, which is always a good sign. They specialized in seafood which was right up my alley! Nick and I got adventurous and tried octopus with green beans and potatoes as an appetizer and we both agreed it was fabulous. The texture of Octopus is not chewy like calamari, more "fleshy", but it definitely looks like Octopus, with the suckers and all! Nick had a huge steak, and I had John Dory fish-which I have only ever had in Europe. Very good, prepared with "squash blossoms" and asparagus.

A trip to Milan is nice, but the city is a modern business oriented city, which doesn’t attract a lot of tourists. I definitely enjoyed the trip, but can see that in your choice of cities to visit in Italy, how it doesn’t make it to the "A" list.

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