Weekend in Milano

But first, a visit with an old friend

I used to work with an amazing reading teacher, Ellen. Ellen is now living in Amsterdam with her family and they are living the good life too. Finally, finally after trying several times to meet up, she happened to be in Rome last weekend. I hopped in a cab to Trastevere and after a little confusion (the cab driver dumped me off at the correct street, but not the correct address) she appeared on the street before me. Yay! We had a coffee and a catch-up. I can’t wait to see her again! More incentive to visit Amsterdam.

Off to Milano

I am sure you all are aware of how classy we are, so it will come as no surprise to you that we took the train to Milano on Saturday afternoon so we could go to the ballet at La Scala. Ha! The truth of the matter is that when someone asks us, “Hey, want to do __________?” our default answer is “YES!” so when the person we apartment-sat for last August in Paris asked us if we wanted to see him conduct the ballet at La Scala, well, see above. Three hours on the train plus the Metro ride to the train? Paying for a night in a hotel? Know nothing about ballet? So what? The tickets were free! I’ll just say that we weren’t the worst dressed people there(which is the only bar I was willing to set for me).

We had no expectation of what Milano was like. I was there in a different lifetime and didn’t really have much in the way of memory of it except that I didn’t think we were impressed. Either we weren’t in the right area or I was impressed by different things way back when. We arrived in the evening and were staying fairly close to La Scala in the touristy Duomo area. It’s a little painful that beautiful buildings are now homes for Guess and Foot Locker(and of course, the ever present McDonalds), but it’s the way of the world. At least when you’re not shopping, you can admire the architecture.

Our friend mentioned that we DEFINITELY had to go to Ambrosiana, which is a museum and library. Once again, YES! We had no idea how amazing it would be. It did have the requisite number of Jesus pics, since it was the Renaissance, you know, but, it also houses original drawings of Da Vinci inventions and the cartoon for the School of Athens by Raphael. Those two alone made it more than worth the visit. It won’t surprise you to know that the building itself is spectacular.

From there, we had a serviceable lunch (the restaurant offered “pizza americano,” whose ingredients were mozzarella, tomato and French fries (No! I didn’t order it…I did think about it…maybe next time…)) and then headed to La Scala. I enjoyed the performance of the ballet Jewels more than Steven did (once again, low bar), but we both loved the music (conducted by Paul Connelly!). Jewels, created by George Balanchine, has three related movements (Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds) with music by three different composers (Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky).

I thought people who go to La Scala would be classy, but they were just as eager to take flash photos during the performance as any other group. Oh well. I finally gave in and took a few of the curtain calls (after all, the performance was over and I was about the only one who wasn’t).

Castello Sforzesco

Afterwards, we met Paul and strolled through Milano because he wanted to show us the Castello Sforzesco, a medeival fortress built in the 15th century that is now a museum. Inside is Michaelangelo’s last and unfinished sculpture and, of course, there’s a room decorated by Da Vinci. We wanted to see it, but we were running short on time. One truism of travel, even our style of travel, is that you can’t do everything. At least we got to see the outside. We completed our trip with the walk back to the train station for the three-hour ride back to Rome. We arrived home at 10 p.m., tired but happy.

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