Milan, Italy

Jim grating a white truffle over his risotto alla Milanese

Entertainment at Trattoria Milanese

On the door of their home, a Milan couple announce the birth of twin sons - a rare occasion since Italy now has the lowest birth rate in the world.

The Santa Maria delle Grazie, a Renaissance church built from 1465 to 1490, which is home to Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper.

Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper (1485-1497), now restored and open to the public by appointment only, is housed inside the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie. If you stand 20 meters from the fresco, you truly see the three-dimensional depth to the painting. The table is in front of Jesus and the disciples, the window is behind Christ's head with light shining through and the landscape is far behind Christ. Standing on top of the painting, the still life reality is lost.

Salone del Tiepolo inside the Palazzo Clerici, now home to the Institute for International Political Studies, claims a ceiling fresco by Tiepolo (22 meters by 5.3 meters). The painting shows Apollo's chariot, preceded by Mercury and mythological deities, traveling through a sky filled with creatures of the earth representing the continents. By the good graces of our friend Carlo Pinardi, we were able to view this masterpiece that is normally closed to the public.

Trolleys fill the narrow streets of Milan

This enormous cathedral, known as the Duomo, offers the most extraordinary exterior I have seen thus far on our journey. Some art historians say Duomo reflects the peak in Gothic architecture.

Inside the Duomo

The interior of the Duomo is imposing, grand and a bit too dark to fully appreciate. Supposedly 40,000 people could fit inside this mammoth cathedral.

The Gothic Duomo is entirely white marble. The first Duke of Milan (Gian Galeazzo Visconti) commissioned the cathedral in 1386. The orders of Napoleon led to completion 1805-1809.

Outside the Duomo, flocks and flocks of pigeons scour for food from tourists and locals. Amazingly the pigeons have played a greater role in damaging the exterior of the Duomo than weather and wars!

Italian Polizia

One of the 135 pinnacles gracing the white marble Duomo in Milan.

Inside the Galleria is Prada, one of Italy's hottest commodities domestically and internationally.

Located beside the Duomo, the Galleria (full name is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II) is a cross shape shopping complex, which was laid out in 1877. Milanese come to talk, read and observe in this beautifully designed structure; certainly a rival to the famous GUM shopping building in Moscow.

Leonardo da Vinci

29 October 1999 - The Duomo (cathedral) is an awesome Gothic structure of white marble with 135 pinnacles and 2245 statues. The first Duca (duke) of Milan Gian Galeazzo Visconti ordered building in 1386 and Napoleon finalized the exterior from 1805-1809.

Pigeons by the thousands swarm just outside the Duomo. People stand in the middle of the creatures, allowing the pigeons to perch on their arms and shoulders. The Duomo interior is dark and bit hazy - perhaps from incense. Old wooden pews with wood support beams at the bottom back enable people ease in kneeling for prayer. When I visited, hundreds of people were inside observing, praying and photographing the beauty of this massive structure, which has a capacity of 40,000.

Milan is a center for fashion and nowhere is it more evident than on Montenapoleone and Spago, just two of the shopping streets in this designer city. On Montenapoleone, there are three Gucci stores - one for men, one with bags and accessories and one with shoes, women's clothes et al. There are also a couple of Prada stores, Versace, Iceberg, Salvador Farragamo and more.

The world famous Leonardo da Vinci The Last Supper (1485 to 1497) is restored and inside the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie, a Renaissance church built from 1465 to 1490. Jim viewed this fresco in 1981 and said he could barely make out the details of the painting. Now the colors are not particularly vivid, but they are profound enough to see and understand every aspect. The depth of the fresco is the most astounding attribute. If you stand 20 meters from the fresco, you truly see the table in front of Jesus and the disciples, the window behind Christ's head with the light coming through and the landscape far behind Christ. Standing too close I failed to see any depth, but from a proper distance the three dimensions are profound and amazing.

Opposite The Last Supper is another fresco - Crucifixion (1495) by Montorfano. It looks like many Italian paintings of this period, colorful and full of characters with Christ on the cross. Jim feels sorry for Montorfano since his is the only other painting in the hall with The Last Supper. Jim says, 'His is fine enough, but loses all significance in this setting'.


  Milano, The Last Supper, Duomo and Galleria (Jim)
  Observations on Milan (Jim)
  Milan's Duoma (Cathedral)
  Da Vinci's The Last Supper