Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is the feature item today. I saw it yesterday in Milan.
Yesterday contained so many interesting happenings. To avoid confusion, I am going to trace my day as it occurred. The Last Supper fits into the day at a certain point.
My day started sometime in the morning. A train and two subways to The Last Supper in Milan.
It has been said Mussolini made the trains run on time. Forget it. My train from Novara was 10 minutes late. My return train 35 minutes late.
First came a 20 minute wait in line to buy a train ticket. The Milan railway station is old and filthy. Contrasted with the Metro Underground which was shiny new and clean. The Metro Underground is Milan’s subway system.
One train ride and two Metro rides later, I was at the Piazza Del Duomo. Big! Magnificent!
I came out of the railroad station. Mussolini built it. The building survived the war. Huge and magnificent. The construction itself eye boggling.
There was a very large statue of someone on a horse in the center. Sorry, I never got the name.
St. Duomo’s Church. I will tell you more about the Church when I get to the point where I actually entered.
There was a building immediately next to or a part of the railway station where it emptied into the Piazza. An elderly woman told me she saw Mussolini on the third floor balcony when he announced that Italy had entered World War II on the side of the Germans. She said he threw his arms up and shouted…..War! War! War!
She claimed thousands cheered, including her. That was June 1940. Five years later on April 27, 1945, Mussolini and his mistress were executed/shot by Italian partisans near Lake Como. Their bodies were driven to Milan where they were hung upside down on meat hooks at an Esso gas station.
What a difference 5 years makes!
I hopped a cab to Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church. The Last Supper is exhibited in a special building next door. The building is referred to as the Church’s rectory.
I entered the Church. I had 45 minutes to kill. One only sees The Last Supper by appointment. I was early. So I opted to visit the Church itself.
The Church was huge, as expected. Side altars lining the walls.
There was an elderly priest in white robes walking around. We smiled and moved towards each other. Just then someone said all had to leave. The Church was closing. I looked at the priest. He shrugged his shoulders. I said…..You may be failing in my redemption. I do not believe he understood me.
I still had roughly 45 minutes to kill. Saw a bar across the street. Went over. The bar sold alcohol, ice cream, cakes, and sandwiches. I sat down and enjoyed a chocolate milk shake.
I still had some time before my scheduled visit. I looked about and made some observations.
Milan is affluent. It is very obvious. The men and women dress elegantly and carry themselves with that strut that tells you they are somebody. Milan is the business center of Italy. Not, Rome. Ergo, many business and professional persons. The men seemed to all be wearing custom tailored suits. Most dark navy. What I used to call courtroom blues. A white shirt and blue tie.
The cut of the suits was different from in the U.S. The pant leg came straight to the top of the shoe and stopped. Not that baggy bottom of the leg look that has existed in our country for years. I prefer the cleaner Italian look.
The women regardless of age dressed beautifully. Top of the line expensive clothes. They carried themselves well. With a sense of confidence. Each a beauty.
Stephanie Kappel, you would have loved the shoes. Not in the store windows. The ones the ladies were wearing.
I have yet to see a fat Italian. I did not see one in Rome 30 years ago nor in Milan yesterday. The men and women are all thin. Very thin. Clothes drape well on them. I was told they are thin because of their life styles. They drink little alcohol. Perhaps an occasional wine. No sodas. Only water. Eat unadulterated foods. Much fish and vegetables. Occasionally a good cut of meat. And they walk! Walk everywhere. Up and down hills and steps.
There appeared to be more mopeds than cars. A lot of bicycles. Traffic was damning. Horrible! Worse than New York or Boston. Crossing the street was an exercise in danger.
I saw only three beggars. Three too much. Two men and a woman. The woman was elderly. She was sitting on the Metro steps holding a cup out. I noticed her teeth. The best I have ever seen! Better appearing than my implants which cost me $35,000. I apologize, but I think she was involved in a scam. I expect to see real beggers in Athens, however. Many.
It finally was my time. Time to see The Last Supper.
People are taken into the rectory building in groups of thirty every 15 minutes. That gives you about 10-12 actual minutes in front of the painting.
Da Vinci painted The Last Supper in the late 1490s. It was painted on what I would describe as a concrete wall. Not on canvas. Nor is it small. It is a large mural. Probably 30 x 40 feet. Impressive!
Because of its nature (painted on concrete and its age), there is a concern for deterioration. The room temperature is kept at a constant level. Every attempt is made to keep the room free from pollutants.
Which meant we did not enter directly into the room. We had to go through three separate glass rooms and stay for a short period of time with the doors electronically closed in each. To bring the temperature to an appropriate level. Our body temperatures. Also to free us as much as possible from the pollutants human bodies carry.
Fortunately, the three rooms were glass floor to ceiling. Otherwise claustrophobia would have set in.
There was a special feeling when you entered the room containing the painting. It takes up an entire wall.
I sat on a bench and pondered. I was in the presence of something.
The painting is subdued color wise.
Mary Magdalene was in the painting. Standing near Jesus. A baby was on the shoulder of some young person next to the both of them. There exists a school of thought that Jesus and Mary ultimately married and Mary bore Jesus’ child. I do not know. I am Catholic. I almost feel sacrilegious in mentioning this. However, it is part of the mystery. The tour guide made reference to it.
What was my emotion as I sat there. Simple, yet awesome…..I just visited with God.
We left in the same fashion as we entered. One door less.
I was tired by this time. Too much hurrying and walking. I opted for lunch.
Dante Street is one of the top high priced store areas in Milan. Smart stores. There is no vehicular traffic. Street cafes were set out. I ate at the Majestic. A small table under a huge umbrella.
What a lunch!
I started with a gin and tonic, diet soda and bottle of cold water. I was thirsty! My meal was lasagna bolognese. I had been dying for pasta since I arrived in Italy. Delicious and unbelievably light!
After lunch, i walked back into the Piazza. There were people screaming on the other side from me. I walked over. There were thousands of spectators looking up. Most young girls 8-16. Four stories up, four young men and two young ladies were leaning over a balcony. The men were constantly waiving and blowing kisses to the young ladies below. Peope were hanging out windows taking pictures of the four young men. Swooning is the word which best describes the female reaction.
I could not discover who they were. I suspect they must have been some popular musical group. Giorgio Armani was having a one night opening show in the building later in the evening. Perhaps the young men were popular singers who were to perform. Such is a best guess.
I was tired and wanted to get out of the heat. I have always found a church to be the best place to cool down on a hot day. I entered the Saint Duomo Church. Interestingly, I had to go through security first.
The Chuch is magnificent on the outside. Much larger than St. Patrick’s in New York City. I have never seen so many spirals in my life.
I sat down and within minutes fell asleep. A half hour later I was hearing…..Sir…..Sir…..Wake up. It was one of the Church staff.
The entrance to the train station is a Galleria. Beautiful! Spacious! I opted for one final drink before I took the train back. The train and Metro.
I sat at one of the sidewalk cafes. Watched the Milan world walk by. Enjoyed not one, but two drinks.
I had to go to the bathroom. The cafe had one downstairs. I saw a first. There was no toilet. Only a hole in the floor. Porcelain circled and lined. No toilet as we know one. Fortunately, I only had to piddle.
As I left, I saw the door to the women’s bathroom open. I looked in. The ladies had a normal commode. To sit upon as usual. I could not understand why the difference. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. And vice versa.
The train back was 35 minutes late. It was hot. You wait semi-outside. No air conditioning. The subway to the train was even worse. No air conditioning. Interesting smells. Not everyone uses deodorant.
The train and Metro were a different experience. The last time I did trains and subways I was in college. I do not expect to do it ever again. I am a car and driver person.
This afternoon I am back to Milan to catch the plane to Athens. The car and driver will pick me up at 2:45.
I got back to the Novara appartement around 8. I had it. I stripped and fell into bed into an immediate deep sleep.
Enjoy your day!