Leaving the pouring rain behind in the Friuli region, we headed to clear blue skies in Milan, Lombardy. Our first stop was Santa Maria delle Grazie, the church famous for containing the mural of Da Vinci’s Last Supper. We were hoping to get tickets to see the Last Super but having been before, I knew it was a slim chance. The Last Supper was, of course, sold out with no cancellations. Santa Maria delle Grazie is quite interesting in and of itself. The night of August 15, 1943, bombs dropped by British and American planes hit the church and the convent. Much of the refectory was destroyed, but some walls survived, including the one that holds the Last Supper, which had been sand-bagged for protection.
After a quick lunch, and I do mean quick, at the Mercanti Caffe, we were off to the Milan Duomo. The Duomo is the 4th largest church in the world at 157 metes long. A series of large canvases, the Quadroni, are currently exhibited along the nave in honor of the birthdate of the San Carlo Borromeo. For a small fee, you can climb a very narrow and winding staircase up to the roof of the Cathedral for a bird’s eye view of its 3,500 spires. The main spire was topped in 1762 with a polychrome statue of the Madonna, to whom the Duomo and its predecessor have always been dedicated.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II links the Piazza della Duomo on the south to the Piazza della Scala on the north. Named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of united Italy, it was originally designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877. Many designers such as Prada and Louis Vuittion reside inside, along with restaurants and cafes.
Right in the center of the Galleria is Paul Cocksedge’s installation “Kiss”. This is a large-scale installation in form of a mistletoe for the “Ottagono”. The installation will be a celebration of love and affection as well as a charitable event. Covered in LED lights, the inside dome of the galleria will light up when two persons kiss or caress under a mistletoe, activated by the conductive properties of human skin. Each time this occurs, in spirit of the Christmas season, a sum will be donated to charity which will illuminate the facade of the Galleria. There is a special counter that will count the number of kisses, and each kiss will be turned into 1€deposited into an account of the association Cesvi. The hope is to raise at least one hundred thousand euros, a figure that will help Uganda’s sixteen thousand children who daily suffer from hunger. The special installation will be on display December 6th – January 10th. Tim and I were kiss number 23,880.
Next we wandered down Via Dante toward the Castello Sforzesco, which used to be the seat and residence of the ruling family of Milan in the 14th century and now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections. The castle was severely damaged as a result of the allied bombardment of Milan in 1943 during World War II and reconstruction was undertaken by the BBPR. The Sforza family coat of arms remains on the round tower. On special display until January 10th is the Madama Butterfly exhibition with a larger than life geisha flanking the castle garden.