Duomo

Okay, not really.  Not at all actually.  But it’s difficult to get that song out of your head when you’re walking around here, especially if you’ve read this post, in which case you know I have special memories related to that song. The Milanese, with their high style, high shoes, slick suits and extra-large sunglasses epitomize the lyrics perfectly.

We had a great stay here, with the best part being able to spend so much time with our friends Diana and Renato and their children.  It is rare and precious to find friends where the adults develop a deep connection (including with each others’ spouses), AND the children become great friends too.  After meeting them two years ago in Colorado and then spending three weeks in their company here, I can say with absolute certainty that it will be a lifelong friendship for all of us.  Just being able to reconnect and deepen our friendship with them has made the trip worthwhile.

In addition, we had quite a whirlwind tour of as many sights as we could manage, yet it seems we just barely scratched the surface.  Here is a brief rundown of the week:

Nice looking McDonald's right?

Day 1: The kids and I went to the Piazza del Duomo and get our first view of the colossal (and somewhat grotesque) Duomo of Milan.  Before we visited we fortified ourselves at the McDonald’s in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.  It’s honestly the best people-watching in all of the Galleria, and my kids were understandably craving a break from pasta and pizza.  We took a spin on the Torino Bull’s testicles, which the Milanese say brings good luck.  We then walked

Spinning on the bull

around the interior of the Gothic Duomo which, while huge, also felt a little dark and gloomy to me.  Going up to the rooftop was definitely the highlight.  We’re talking buttresses flying everywhere and gargoyles around every turn.

Day 2: I attempted to take Em shopping, but we were thwarted by a thunderstorm accompanied by torrential rain.  We did manage to buy yet another umbrella since we’d left the one we bought in Lake Como at home.

The kids with their drawings based on Leonardo's inventions. At least they had fun!

Day 3: I took the four kids to the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology.  This is a fantastic museum where they’ve made full-size models of several of Leonardo’s inventions. Unfortunately, this trip was pretty much a disaster, as I was quickly overwhelmed by taking care of two eight year-olds, a six year-old and a five year-old in a large, unfamiliar city where I don’t speak the language.  None of them ever had to go to the bathroom at the same time for example, so several times I had to leave three unsupervised in the midst of many breakable objects.  Poor Jay insisted on going into the men’s room alone and then misfired into a urinal that was way too tall for him.  After much crying and drying of shorts under the hand dryer (while the three other kids were doing God only knows what), I managed to see a few of the models.  We spent 45 minutes looking for the museum’s “gift shop,” which turned out to contain nothing that we couldn’t buy in the States.  That did not prevent the kids from whining, begging, and eventually crying about the fact that I wouldn’t buy them anything.  After that, the boys started “sword fighting” on a busy street with heavy traffic. I got us lost on the way back to the apartment and couldn’t get Google maps to work on my phone.  After MANY attempts to hail a taxi, Em finally managed to get one and we made it home alive, whereupon I curled up into fetal position on my bed and stayed there until it was time to open the bottle of Prosecco that evening.

Em in Santa Maria della Grazie

Day 4:  Phil had arrived back the previous evening, so the four of us set off in the morning for Santa Maria della Grazie, to see the church and, more importantly, the painting of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.  I loved the church, which was much smaller and had so much more light than the Duomo.  There was also a mass being said in a side chapel, and I liked the fact that it was a living, breathing church that didn’t feel at all like a mausoleum.  The Last Supper is beyond description.  All you can do when you go in for your 15 minutes is behold the painting (while half-listening to the English tour guide who never stops talking).  As soon as I left I wanted to go back in immediately.  Luckily, we had more Leonardo on the agenda.  We had lunch and then went to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana Gallery, where there is one other completed da Vinci painting, and a special exhibit of some of the pages from his actual notebooks, the Codex Atlanticus.  I am going to write a separate post about the notebooks because it is not too strong a statement to say that I will never be the same person now that I have seen them.  It really had that much of an impact.  But as this post is getting long, I’ll leave that off for later.

To cap the stay, we went out for an “adult’s only” dinner in the Navigli district, which

Roman columns, medieval wall and... Elvis??? Everything is jumbled together in Navigli

includes canals engineered by… wait for it… Leonardo da Vinci.  Now it is more famed for its terrific restaurants and nightlife.  Perfetto!

We had an emotional goodbye with the Ridellas this morning, but we are now on to the next adventure.  As I complete this writing, we have just reached Venezia Mestre station.*  One more stop, and we’re in Venice!   So ciao for now (again).

*Written on the train, posted two days later from Naples…

Categories: Italy, Travel · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for some very good tips for my next trip to lovely Milan. I haven’t been to Pinacoteca Ammbrosiana and I must.

    • Pinacoteca IS an absolute must. If I could, I would go back every three months just to see more of the da Vinci notebook pages.

  2. Between your trip to Italy and my sister’s trip to Lithuania and London, I’m delightfully enjoying this office chair trip around the globe this summer. Thanks for taking us along.

  3. good post im also interested in Milan Duomo it is very beautiful structure

  4. Sounds like you’re having the time of your life/lives! 😀

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