Out and about in Milano

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May 5th 2015
Published: May 6th 2015
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We enjoyed the 'and breakfast' part of our B&B accommodation this morning! Fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice, cereal and yoghurt AND scrambled eggs and bacon. While we were eating, Fabio brought our receipt out to us as we pre-paid this accommodation using PayPal. Fabio also gave us a refund of €20.00 for the breakfast that we missed yesterday morning which was very decent of him.

After breakfast we caught the train to Cardorna and then walked to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church - the home of 'The Last Supper' painted by Leonardo da Vinci. We approached from the cloisters end of the church where there was a fabulous springtime image of the church taken through the blossom filled cloisters on a board outside. OK, it's not still spring, but that is a great shot through the cloisters that we could try to replicate. Well, except for the cleaning/restoration work that is currently being undertaken. We took the best shots that we could manage - around the scaffolding and shade cloth - and then proceeded to the front of the church.

We had a timed entry ticket for 11.00am so had a bit of a wait before it was our turn to view Leonardo's masterpiece. We sat in the square in front of the church while school children kicked soccer balls around. We survived the wait without copping a soccer ball to the head!

Entry to 'The Last Supper' was very regimented. At the appointed time we were admitted to a holding pen. We waited there for a few minutes and then we were admitted to the former Dominican refectory that features Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' at one end and Donato Montorfano's 'Crucifixion' on the opposite wall. With our allotted 15 minutes in the refectory we made sure to appreciate both works of art and not just spend the whole time on 'The Last Supper'.

'The Last Supper' was commissioned in 1495 and completed in 1497. The representation by Leonardo da Vinci depicted the moment immediately after Christ said, 'One of you will betray me'. The 12 Apostles reacted in differing ways; their movements and expressions are magnificently captured in Leonardo's work. He focused on the impact of Christ's words on the Apostles and on their reactions. This broke with the traditional representation of the past, upsetting some ideas.

The genius of the artist is seen especially in the use of light and strong perspective. The three windows behind the table companions and the landscape beyond create a luminosity that set against the backlight illuminates the characters from the side as well. The result is a combination of a particular classically Florentine and chiaroscuro perspectives. Well, that's the arty explanation. We found it to be an impressive work of art; even though it is quite faded its perspective and the expressions of the disciples still have quite an impact.

From the Santa Maria delle Grazie we walked to the Duomo of Milan. Wow! What an incredible example of completely over-the-top Gothic architecture. The Duomo is the 5th largest Christian cathedral in the world. It is said that there are more statues on this gothic-style cathedral than any other building in the world. There are 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures that decorate Milan Duomo! We took the lift to the rooftop to fully appreciate the architecture of the most renowned silhouette in the city. From the terrazza we were able to see breathtaking, if somewhat smog shrouded, views across Milan. We were also able to see the famous Madonnina, the gold-coloured statue of Mary that stands on the cathedral’s highest spire.

After the Duomo we started heading for the piazza where Leonardo da Vinci's statue stands. On the way we bought some lunch from a place with a ridiculous queue. If there's a queue it must be good, right? Yep, it was cheap and it was good. Who needs to pay top dollar for a sit down lunch in the centre of Milan when you can buy something that the locals are eating from a take-away place?! We bought lunch for both of us for under €10.00. The only down side to Milan at the moment is the cotton wool like fluff that the plane trees are shedding. It is like cotton wool snow all over the city!

We found the square featuring Leonardo da Vinci's statue and visited the Leonardo3 exhibition that is on at the moment. The exhibition features many of Leonardo's machines constructed from the notes in his codices. The exhibition was interesting, but it was frustrating that the interpretative boards were in Italian only. English interpretations were available, but only from the slightly unreliable and very slow touch screen computers. The final room of the exhibition featured digitally remastered and interpreted versions of 'The Last Supper' and 'The Mona Lisa' which were really interesting.

As it was on our way back our B&B we wandered past the Castello Sforzesco. The castle was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remains of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. From the castle, and still heading in the general direction of our B&B, we wandered into Parc Sempione. The park is situated between the Sforza Castle and the Arco della Pace (Arc of Peace).

We skirted around the Arena Civica Milan's multi-purpose stadium that opened on 18 August 1807. Holding 18,000-30,000, today it mainly hosts football and rugby union games, concerts and cultural events. From the stadium it was only a short(ish) walk back to the B&B where we put our feet up for an hour or so before heading out for dinner at another local restaurant recommended by our host.

Steps for the day 20,688 (14.09 km)

Additional photos below
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7th May 2015

Is Wendy lost too?
Just love your wide-angle shot of Civiche Racco;te d'Arte Antica. Glorious photo of the cloisters. Did you discover why the banners were showing dogs? Are you sure Stephen wasn't looking down on you from one of those 'monstrous' gargoyles? Thoroughly enjoying your detailed commentary Tracey. Ciao. Caroline

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