.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Piazza del Duomo, the Heart of Milan

00 Piazza del Duomo, Milan (11)

If its magnificent Duomo is the heart of Milan, then the Piazza which faces this church certainly is the town’s main gathering place and foremost tourist attraction.  Always filled with throngs of people, the cathedral’s rectangular square has several sights worthy of note besides its famous church (we’ll learn more about the Duomo in a future blog).

Milan's great Duomo, Piazza del Duomo

Milan’s great Duomo, Piazza del Duomo

The piazza was created in the 14th century and developed over the years as construction on the Duomo progressed.  Most of the buildings and monuments you see date to the 19th century.  Our rented apartment was across the street from the Piazza, so we visited it often and frequently walked through it on the way to restaurants or to see an attraction.  It was …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 25, 2019: Remembering Leonardo, Piazza della Scala, Milan

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Just north of Milan’s Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a popular park known as Piazza della Scala, named for the city’s famous Teatro alla Scala opera house directly opposite this piazza.  It’s a place of space and refuge in a busy and crowded area of the city.  Other buildings on the Piazza include Palazzo Marino (Milan’s city hall) and Palazzo della Banca Commerciale Italiana.

To me the most interesting feature of the square was situated at its center, where a thoughtful monument of Leonardo da Vinci sits.  It was crafted by sculptor Pietro Magni (1872).  Milan was Leonardo’s home for much of his early adult life — likely the most productive in his life — and the city proudly remembers it’s adopted son.

(Click …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Doors of Milan’s Duomo

06 Doors of the Duomo

Construction of Milan’s great Cathedral (Duomo) began in the late 14th century and continued for half a millennium.  One of the last details to be completed were the main central entry doors, which date to the late 1800s. 

The church is lovely and its grand entry doors fit well with the overall opulence of the structure.  They are often admired, but only rarely opened.  These doors were crafted between 1894-1908 by Italian sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi, themed on “stories from the life of Mary”.  Here are some of the features and panels which caught my eye.

The doors are busy and it’s easy to overlook the many exquisitely detailed panels in it. including scenes of Jesus’ life and death, as well as those …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 30, 2019: Milano Centrale Railway Station

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Stazione Milano Centrale is the main station in Milan and has the most passenger traffic of any train station in Europe.  It is large and very busy, connecting Milan with many of Italy and Europe’s great cities. 

The station was officially inaugurated in 1931 to replace the older central station (built 1864).  Its reconstruction coincided with Benito Mussolini becoming Prime Minister.  Mussolini wanted the station to represent the might of Italy’s Fascist regime, so the architecture and details were tweeked to represent what’s now called “fascist architecture”.  The architectural details are powerful but not very refined, and are present throughout the structure.

Although we used the station twice, I never managed to head outside (given the luggage we were totting), so I didn’t photograph the …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 16, 2019: Fashion Week, Milan

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Milan Fashion Week was founded in 1958 and is held twice a year– once in the spring, and once in fall.  We were surprised to find ourselves in the middle of the fall show during our recent visit to the city, especially notable in the Brera and Duomo neighborhoods.

Fashion Week is a clothing trade show spread over multiple events and venues, including the stereotypical models on runways, models and their photographers on the streets, promotion of clothes and such.  Fashion Week is run by a non-profit association which coordinates and promotes Italian Fashion, both male and female.

Milan’s is one of four important international Fashion Weeks, the others being held in Paris, London and New York.  

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.All Trips / Car Culture / Europe / Italy

Great Cars along the Highway! Ferrari, near Venice

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The Autostrada has excellent rest/food/gas stops placed at regular intervals, and it was at one of these stops close to Venice that we spotted this beautiful Ferrari.  We were not the only ones to admire this lovely machine.  A tour bus had pulled up beside it and seems like everyone was having their photo taken beside this car.

I don’t know enough about Ferraris to tell you with authority which model this is, although some research indicates it likely is a Ferrari F430 Challenge.  Only 142 units were built between 2006 – 2010, so it is not only beautiful to look at but of rare vintage.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)

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A Visit to the Leonardo da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum, Milan

Leonardo Da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum

The da Vinci Science Museum is spread over 40,000 m2 and is in three separate buildings, one of which was a 16th century monastery.  There are more than 15,000 pieces in the museum’s collection, so trying to see everything is like taking everything at the Louvre — an impossibility in a week, much less in a single day.

It’s hard for anyone with a love of science not to be drawn to a museum with the great Leonardo da Vinci’s name in it.  I wish I could gush about what a wonderful museum this was, but that would mostly be untrue.  There were a few aspects to the museum that were quite imaginative and interesting, but overall it was a rambling unfocused collection …

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.All Trips / Europe / Food / Italy

The Art of the Almond

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Marzipan is popular treat, especially in Europe, made of ground almonds (almond meal) mixed with sugar or honey — sometimes with added almond oil.  It is often molded into the shape of fruit and vegetables and tinted with food coloring, as seen in these window displays in Venice.  I though these little pieces of marzipan quite beautiful and tried a piece — tasty but heavy, not really my style.  

Besides being shaped to look like fruit, marzipan can also rolled flat and used an icing layer for fruitcakes and the like, and sometimes is used as a baking ingredient, as in a German “stollen”.

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