We purposefully picked the morning tour to force ourselves to get up and out the hotel. Not one day since we arrived have we gotten out of bed before 9:30 and then out of the hotel before 11:30. Well, it is vacation – right? The tour Larry found was perfect: just the right combination of driving around and walking.
Our first stop was La Scala. We had hoped to see a concert while we were there, but literally caught them between performance schedules.
The next opera, La Traviata, was starting next week – too bad!
At least with the tour we got to go inside and see the museum and of course the concert hall. Peering down from a box from the third ring we had a magnificent view. We both snapped a couple of contraband pictures, which made us both giggle a little.
Back in the bus we headed to the Sforza Castle.
Florence had the Medicis and Milan had the Sforzas. Luckily Larry was paying attention to the tour guide because quite honestly it was freezing walking around inside the walls of that castle. I completely checked out trying to will myself to be warm. (Pretty hilarious!)
We even saw a model doing a photo shoot wondering how on earth she could stand it.
Back to the bus and off to the Duomo di Milano we went. I must say, yes, it’s quite breathtaking. You emerge from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, named for the first King of Italy after the unification, and as your gaze moves to the left the white spires shoot straight up to the blue sky in a most dramatic way.
I’ve had that catch-your-breath kind of moment twice with Larry: in Rome, reaching the top of the steps as you emerge from the metro and gaze straight up at the Coliseum with the sun streaming through the arches, and at the Parthenon in Greece as you reach the top of the steps to see the Acropolis sprawling before you. Experiencing ancient history, standing and drinking in the sights and sounds of centuries gone by is so moving if you allow yourself to be open to it.
It was very cold but the bright sun made it bearable . The Duomo was bright white against the clear blue sky. Sadly we were there while some construction was happening, so the sight of present day mechanical objects was a disconnect. Never the less we pressed on. The tour gave us just a short time to go in and explore, so we snapped away.
Very old churches have always been high on our sightseeing list. We both share a great appreciation for their historical place in time. Larry and I both grew up in fairly religious families. He was raised Catholic, and I, Greek Orthodox. Church and Sunday school every week from the time we were little kids though High School. We both fell away from those religions, as we got older, mainly because we disagreed with the dogma of each respectively. That’s not to say we are “anti” religion, it’s just that neither spoke to us. After we got together we both decided that it probably made sense for Elinor to be involved in some kind of religious upbringing. Every child, in our opinion, should be a part of some kind of organized religion. It’s not just about scriptures or teachings, it’s about understanding how you fit in the universe with a lot of other people, and how to be caring and kind, to be spiritual and believe in something that is not tangible. That is something not taught in school. Through very close friends we discovered Unitarian Universalism and today all three of us identify ourselves as UUs.
That said, its always moving and awe inspiring for us to walk into an ancient church, and the Duomo was no different. The cavernous dim interior surrounded by stunning stain glass windows that came alive in the darkness as the sun outside lit them up.
Turning the corner we spied a gorgeous pipe organ in the loft and wondered how it probably sounded during a Mass.
Time was ticking and back to the bus we ran. Our last stop was the Church of the Santa Maria della Grazie to see the original mural of the Last Supper, painted by Da Vinci.
I continue to always be moved when I see paintings by great Masters depicting religious moments in history, and their belief in that history. Titian, Caravaggio, Da Vinci, clearly god-fearing men with deeply held religious beliefs. How else could they paint with such dramatic intensity that you can feel coming straight from the canvas, or in the case of the Last Supper, the mural? The detail has such beauty and reverence. Standing in front of it was another catch-your-breath moment.
The rest of the day we wandered around the city after having a great late lunch at a local pizzeria recommended by a friend named Sibilla.
After lunch we walked down to Peck, the famous Italian market and I searched around for some last minute food gifts.
Just as we were about to leave I spotted a glistening tray of Marron Glacé in the case and just had to get one. No words … except perhaps: utterly divine.
When we finally got back to the hotel neither of us really had the energy or appetite to go out for dinner; so after another couple of Spritz’s we spent the end of the evening packing and talking about our trip.
I am truly blessed to be married to the best traveling partner ever, bar none. From our very first trip together to Paris 12 years ago, it’s been one incredible ride. This trip was no exception. Tomorrow we go home. We’re both a little sad to be leaving this intensely beautiful country filled with beautiful food; but both glad to be getting back to our daughter, our dog and our house.