After an extra day in Paris and a 7.5 hour train trip, we finally arrived in Milan Monday afternoon! (Sorry it has taken me so long to write! My time has flown by!) Milan is incredibly different from Paris and I am much more comfortable in the culture of Milan than I was in Paris. The streets are wider, the people seem incredibly welcoming, and there is a lot more English signage than there ever was in Paris. (Side note: This trip is continuously showing me that I need to learn a foreign language –or four.) My time in Milano is a short one (we are left Thursday morning for Verona and Venice!) but it has been a very nice start to the Italian portion of my trip! Here is what I have done in Milan so far!
Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper Painting
After some research on this painting, I had lowered my expectations of the quality I would be seeing. The painting started falling apart only a few years after DaVinci finished it and it has undergone re-paintings, vandalism, fading, and general wear and tear. It was restored to its original form some years ago. I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy and colors of the painting however. It takes up an entire wall and it is a fascinating piece to look at. I enjoyed looking closer to the reactions of the disciples in the painting. (The painting shows the reaction of the disciples after Jesus shares one of them will betray him.) I was pleasantly surprised by the painting and I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Milan!
The painting was connected with the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Before seeing the painting, I had the chance to wander the church. This church was unique in that there was no stained glass windows but rather paintings on the walls, the ceilings, and the arches. I really like the change in pace of the church style. I haven’t seen a church ever painted so pretty!
Brera Art Gallery
With the purchase of our ticket to the Last Supper Painting we received ‘free’ tickets to the Brera Art Gallery. The Brera is a collection of Italian paintings that were intentionally collected for the purpose of a museum (rather than adopting a collection from royalty). Below the gallery are studios and classrooms for studying artists. There was a lot of fascinating art in this gallery. Many of the pieces were of scenes depicting Christ in some way; Virgin with baby, the final days of Christ, the crucifixion, the resurrection, etc.
The Duomo was under construction in parts of the chapel, so I wasn’t able to see everything in full form but nonetheless it was a beautiful church! I am consistently drawn to the stained glass windows in these churches and I could spend all day looking at them if I had the freedom and time to spend! There are so many ornate carvings and statues that reached all the way up to the ceiling. For a small fee, I was able to head to the roof of the cathedral and look out over Milan as well as get a closer viewing of the spires and architecture on top of the cathedral. I am terrified of heights, so I didn’t go to the tippy top, but I went up as much as I could and still enjoyed the view!
The Opera – La Boheme!
On our last night in Milan, we signed up for the cheapest tickets available to the opera La Boheme at the Teatro alla Scala – the opera house in Milan. For 14 euro, I ‘sat’ (I stood for almost the entire performance) in the peanut gallery to watch Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme! (The Broadway hit Rent! is based on the storyline of La Boheme.) I instantly fell in love with opera though! I didn’t understand a word that was sung but the talent and the story and the passion of opera is tangible even in the peanut gallery. Richard Gere’s character Edward Lewis in the movie Pretty Woman said it best. He says to Vivian (Julia Roberts) about the opera “People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” I couldn’t agree more. I think I will have to find the nearest opera performance when I come back home.
Thanks for reading gang! Check back soon for my next travel story – Verona & Venice!