Monday, July 17, 2006

Milan to Geneva

During our last day in Milan, we went to visit the stunningly beautiful Teatro alla Scala, Italy's most famous opera house, and its adjoining museum. It's amazing.

We also went to the Cenacolo Vinciano to see the painting of the Last Supper. Not because of all the hype about the Da Vinci Code, which I found to be utterly ridiculous, but because we wanted to see the historic painting. After all, we were there, so why not see it?

(Note: if you ever decide to visit museums in Europe, know this: you MUST call ahead for a reservation. We did so more than 6 weeks in advance for this painting and barely got to see it. It was booked solid. We felt bad for the people who were just walking up wanting to see it and were being turned away.)

The building where the painting is housed has some beautiful architecture, but this is about the most attractive view I could get of it, for two reasons: 1) The neighborhood has grown up around it and is crowded; and 2) the place got bombed and only part of it survived (luckily, the part with the painting).

We got there about 20 minutes early, in spite of turning the wrong way on the side street that led to the Santa Maria della Grazie where the painting is kept. There is a lot of security here, and also a lot of protection for the painting. You go through three different set of air-controls with automatic glass doors before reaching the room where the painting is. It's about the size I thought it would be, but looks different than I thought it would - lighter, and less commanding than I thought.

Surprisingly, part of the painting is missing - the bottom part, where the feet of Jesus would be, is now an arched door. It happened when the monks were making some renovations to the place and decided they needed a door, forgetting what was on the other side of the wall, apparently. Oops. I could make PLENTY of comments about that, but won't.

At any rate, the painting is juxtaposed with a painting on the opposite wall by a lesser-known artist, but it, too, was compelling and interesting, a depiction of the crucifixion of Christ.

I would recommend the visit if you are ever in Milan. It's fascinating.

Some final thoughts on Milan, before leaving:
it's not a clean city. It's pretty dirty, in fact.
There appear to be a lot of people with nothing to do just hanging out on the benches and relaxing.
On the subways, people were very polite to my Mom, literally jumping from their seats to offer her a chair as she boarded.
Men tended to be immaculately dressed; everywhere we went, they were in expensive-looking suits, shirts, and ties.
In general, people were stylishly dressed, especially in the shopping district along Montenapoleone.
I liked it, but woudn't go back. There are other places in Italy I'd like to see more, like Florence and the Tuscany valley.


At 10:40 AM, July 18, 2006, Blogger PatCH said...

Wait. The monks were renovating and forgot to check what was on the other side of the door???!!! What the hell?

Let's just say if my contractor came in with that excuse, he'd better have been insured, ya know?


At 5:57 PM, July 24, 2006, Blogger Tuna Girl said...

Reservations for a museum? Seems sort of wrong to me.

I've been wanting to go to Tuscany for years.


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