Posted by: gelatojourney | June 29, 2010

The Last Supper in our last city

Well, Milan was not really our last city.  We had a little surprise at the end of our trip – more on that later.

We caught the train to Milan with a little sadness.  Vernazza is a very special place and neither of us wanted to leave.  I think my next trip will just be a month in the Cinque Terre and nowhere else.  Maybe a couple of day trips but I just want to veg here and get really tan and relaxed.  I’ve heard about people visiting the Holyland and developing “Jerusalem Syndrome”.  They just can’t bring themselves to leave and end up staying.  I could so do that here.

Just one more Vernazza picture

But, we made it to Milan, and were ready to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper.  You have to book in advance to see it and they only let 25 people in at a time – for 15 minutes.  You have to go through airlock doors before entering the climate controlled room.  Da Vinci painted the Last Supper on the wall of the monk’s refectory or dining room.  A crucifixion scene is on the opposite wall. These pictures gave the monks something to contemplate while eating their cafeteria food.  It is not a fresco.  Frescoes are painted while the plaster is still wet and this was painted on dry plaster which allowed Da Vinci to take his time and not be rushed to paint before the plaster dried.  Because of this dry method, the painting started to deteriorate just a few years after it was completed.  It’s latest restoration removed hundreds of years of dirt and restoration painting.  The refectory was destroyed during the bombing of World War II but the two end walls had been sandbagged and were saved.  It was exposed to the elements for many years while before the room was rebuilt around it.  Last trip to Italy we had our big “Wow” moment in the Sistine Chapel.  This was the biggie this time.  Even faded and damaged, it takes your breath away.  The expressions and positions of the disciples are just how you would picture them as Christ said, “One of you will betray me”.  Wish I could have pictures to show you but they are very strict about that too.  I got a nice bookmark though.

Next we made our way to Piazza Duomo.  The Duomo in Milan is the third largest church in the world and feels huge.  Saint Peter’s does not feel this big – in part due to forced perspective – but Milan’s cathedral is and feels enormous.  There was a crowd of several thousand in the piazza watching Italy play Slovakia in the World Cup on an enormous jumbotron.  Italian flags, red, green, and white wigs, and the drone of vuvuzela were everywhere.  It was exciting and a little scary at the same time. The Carabinieri and the Italian army were there to keep the peace if Italy should win.  Even at the very back of the cathedral we could hear the crowd and tell when a goal was scored.  We entered the Galleria Emanuele (really old and giant shopping mall) next to the piazza and the crowd was there too.  Super Bowl has nothing on World Cup.  We ducked into a book store and it was all over when we came out.  Italy had lost and the crowd was gone.  We stopped into a McCafe for a snack.  Now I am not a big McDonald’s fan – but these McCafes are cool.  They serve coffee and fresh pastry on real china.  I had a Coke Zero – boy do I miss ice – and we both had a slice of Nono Torta – Grandma Cake.  I hope these little cafes catch on over here.

Italy vs. Slovakia

A little dark - but you get the picture - huge crowd

Big crowd, big t.v., big disappointment for Italy

Nona Torta and an ice cold Coke at McCafe

Galleria Emanuelle

We checked out Teatro La Scala, the famous opera house where some kind of protest was going on.  We should have paid attention to these omens – more on that later.  This year is Alfa Romeo’s 100th anniversary so there were car displays set up around town as well.  Milan definitely has a big town feel but still feels very Italian – duh.

Protest at La Scala - with a band

Happy Anniversary Alfa Romeo!

In red too!

After the game was over, they reopened the elevator to the roof of the cathedral.  Seeing the spires and statues up close was very cool.  They even have a stage and seating set up on the roof for concerts.

Roberto's Bambino Grande in Milano

Milan's Duomo from the roof

Concerts up here must be incredible

Concert seating

Amazing view from up here

After a quick gelato – our last – it was time for dinner.

Our last gelato

After checking out Rick Steves’ recommendations we ended up at a Ligurian style restaurant called Le Bricioli.   So even after leaving Vernazza, we get Ligurian food one more time.  None of those Milanese risottos for us.

One last piece of pizza

It’s a little sad to be leaving Italy but we are looking forward to being home as well.  Three weeks have certainly gone by quickly. We watched a little CNN in the hotel before getting to sleep – What’s this about a general strike planned in Italy?

Stay tuned for more strike news.

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