Ravenna to Milan – 299 km (train & bus) &
13,722 & 2 days of 35,674 Fit Bit steps
Milan deserves its reputation as a world class city, for its style, history and culture, past and present. Not knowing what to expect, we enjoyed our time in this cosmopolitan, open and lively city.
Our primary reason for visiting Milan was to see da Vinci’s « Last Supper », also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was another thrilling experience for both of us. The subject is the reaction of the apostles to the news that one of them was going to betray him. Although the painting has undergone numerous repairs and restorations over the centuries, it has a unique presence. Not technically a fresco, as da Vinci painted it « dry » (a new technique the painter was trying, which soon resulted in deterioration), the Last Supper remains in its original place on the wall of the refectory of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The painting’s survival in situ is even more remarkable given the fact that Napoleon’s troops used the wall of the refectory for target practice during the revolutionary war, and, in 1943, the walls of the Convent were heavily damaged by an Allied bomb after which the work of art was left in the open air for a few years. The most recent restoration was completed in 1999 where several scientific methods were used to restore the original colors as close as possible, and to eliminate traces of paint applied in previous attempts to restore the work.
Seeing the inside of the Teatro La Scala was also special. Unfortunately, the only opera tickets available for Nabucco were totally out of our budget. A tour guide explained that before Toscanini became musical director in the 1920’s, audiences were undisciplined, arriving late and with more concern for the social aspect of attending the opera. This explains the circular layout of the theatre, which was designed more to allow spectators to be seen than to enable them to view the performance.
Close by La Scala is the Duomo of Milan which dominates the central piazza of the city. The impressive building took 600 years to complete (canals were dug specifically for the purpose of transporting marble from 100km away) and the interior is an interesting mix of styles. A disturbing sculpture of the martyred Saint Bartholomew, Flayed, holds his own skin like a cloak.
Also in the piazza, the Museo del Novecento houses a great collection of Italian art from the 20th century.
Leaving the city from the Milano Centrale train station, we were again both appalled and impressed with this colossal edifice from the fascist era, with its three huge halls designed to dominate and intimidate.