Wednesday, 25 April 2012


I woke to the ominous sound of heavy rain. Having only a day to explore Milan this was not great, but thems the breaks... Or so I thought.... As I left the hotel the rain began to let up and by the time I had had a breakfast cappuccino and pastry at the corner coffee shop the sun was out, and half an hour later there was not a cloud in the sky, result!  The down side of this is that I thought it would be nice to walk into the centre of town to give my legs a stretch. Queue one very lost person :0( it probably wasn't the best idea given I didn't have a proper map but hey ho. Milan turned out to be a very pleasant place to be lost in as it gives, it's actually quite an old city and I got to wander some lovely old residential neighborhoods. After about an hour I admitted defeat in trying to find the city centre and turned on the sat nav on my phone. It's a good thing I did as I was going in totally the wrong direction! Duly corrected I finally made it to the main square for my first stop on the day the city's cathedral, the Duamo. Started in the thirteenth century but not finally finished until the 1960's it's a gothic riot with adornments on every door, wall and roof. That makes it sound awful but in fact it's incredibly beautiful both inside and out. What was most impressive is how quiet and reverential it felt inside despite large amounts of tourists milling about. I ended up down in the crypt looking at the mummified body of a fifteenth century cardinal (as you do) when I noticed there was an art installation in a side room. This was a video installation by Mark wallinger's called Via Dolorosa. On the surface it seemed like a strange thing... It was a projection of zefferelli's film about Jesus but with a large black square obscuring all but a tiny border of film around the edges. ... However once I sat watching it for a while it really started to get to me. It made me think about how little we really see of Christ, that we may think we have a clear picture of it all but in reality we see only a tiny fraction, but also made me profoundly grateful that one day the black square will be gone and I will truly be able to see the whole picture....(1 Corinthians 13: 12) Going to the other extreme I then decided to tackle the church roof.  For a fee you can climb up to the roof to get a gargoyles eye view of the city... I decided to pa the 3 euros extra and get the lift! And I am glad I did as its really high up. But it was amazing to be up among the statues and carvings. It's clearly a popular spot to be photographed as I saw a couple holding their new born (and very squirmy) baby by the parapet for picture... I must admit I looked away as it seemed way to close to me! Walking along a bit I came across a Japanese bride and groom in full kit... Presumably they took the lift to, the brides crinoline skirt would have been a bugger on the stairs!  You end up quite literally on the roof were as well as a fantastic view you can people watch to your hearts content as its seemed to be a popular sunbathing spot! The afternoon was spent at the modern art gallery which was fab. I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised on entering to see a Mondrian, a Kandinsky and a Klee all hanging on the wall... Three of my favourite artists right there together, bliss.... And then I turn around and see a Picasso and a Modigliani... Life is good.  But actually it's not the international heavy hitters that ended up making the museum for me, lovely though they were... What was amazing was seeing the work of local Milanese and Northern Italian painters who I had never heard off. There was some stunning examples of all sorts of media and it was a real eye opener. I thought I would be only in there for an hour or so as its not a huge museum but in the end I was there for nearly three enjoying seeing something new. By the time I re-emerged I didn't fancy any more museums and so spent the rest of the day widow shopping and admiring shoes that cost more than a small car and handbags that would require a second mortgage... I settled on the purchase of a Gelatto, every bit as satisfying at a fraction of the price :0)

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