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Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

04 Gallerie Victor Emanuelle II (15)

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a beautiful shopping arcade in Milan near the Duomo, is the oldest shopping mall in Milan and one of the oldest in Europe.
In 1860 the government of Milan held a competition for the redevelopment of the area between the Duomo and the Scala Opera House.  The winning design was submitted by Bolognese architect, Giuseppe Mengoni.  The first stone of the mall was laid in 1865 by King Victor Emmanuel II, after whom the arcade is named.   The Gallerie was opened for business about 2 years later, but work on the structure continued for another decade, especially on the grand entrance from Piazza del Duomo.  In a sad note of irony, Mengoni fell to his …

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A visit to the fascinating Frari Church, Venice

05 Frari Church, Venice (8)

One of the great places to explore when visiting Venice is the Franciscan church of Santa Maria dei Frari (St. Mary of the Friars, commonly known as the Frari Church).  
As with many things in Venice, the Frari Church is an old building.  The church was originally constructed between 1236 and 1338, then rebuilt in Gothic style two centuries later.   It’s considered a minor basilica and is dedicated to the Assumption of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Exterior, Frari Church, Venice

Exterior, Frari Church, Venice


While the church is well known for its spacious architecture, it is best known for the many fine monuments and terrific works of Venetian Renaissance art it displays.  This beautiful art is still situated exactly where the artists knew it would be placed and where it …

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Lunch at Madrid’s San Miguel Market

01 Madrid’s San Miguel Market (1)

We  stumbled upon this market as we were wandering around Madrid, rather than my usual method of researching and then visiting.  Our first glance of the San Miguel market is what you see above.  An attractive building of steel and glass that, to me at least, seemed inviting. 

Mercado de San Micuel is close to the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.  The market opened in 1916 and while not large, is spacious, bright and quite lovely.  About ten years ago, after a change in ownership and a remodel, the market transformed from a general market to an upscale venue that focuses on premium food products.  As such, it’s a popular place for locals and tourists to pick up lunch or a snack …

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A Food Tour in Milan

00 Milan Food Tour, Brera neighborhood. (2) Panificio

When my wife and I travel in Europe, we tend to focus each trip on a small region.  Generally we visit one or two major cities, each for 5-7 days including day trips into the countryside.  Also, if our schedule allows and we find one of interest, we will go on a food tour in the cities we’re visiting.

When we visited Milan this past fall, we enjoyed a very fine food tour.  Our guide was Paulo, a professional guide who works for different companies around the city of Milan.  Our particular tour was focused on the city’s popular Brera neighborhood.  He did a great job guiding us through sights in Brera and explaining the city’s food cultural traditions and dishes.

Fresh pasta at Pattini's, Milan

Fresh pasta at Pattini’s, Milan

Our …

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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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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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