Monday, January 23, 2017

Strike 27 Jan 2017, 9AM-5PM: Malpensa Express (Milan-Malpensa-Milan)

Starting off the new year with bad news (sorry!): a strike.

27 Jan 2017, 9AM-5PM, Malpensa Express.

The Malpensa Express (the "trenino" between Milan and the Malpensa airport) is going to be unavailable, or available in fits and starts, between 9AM and 5PM on the 27th of January.

The first Malpensa express trains from the Cadorna station begin running at just before 6:30 AM, for example, so if you need to get to the airport, you'd better get organized early.

Here's the web site in English for more train, ticket counter and station times.

Best of luck!

Friday, July 15, 2016

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

In Italy, and hunting for some fantastic gelato?

This is the post for you!...More......

Run through the mouthwatering ice cream possibilities in this slide show looking for one in the town where you are, or, why not?!, plan your vacation around a tour of these 50 (plus one) 'gelaterie.' The site is in Italian, but the names of the stores and addresses are clear.

Why plus one?

Because they missed out on "Il Massimo del Gelato" (The Maximum/Maximillian of Gelato...the play on words between "maximum" and the founder's name is delightful) in Milan offering the thickest, creamiest, tastiest ice cream I think that I have ever tasted in my whole life.

They are opening an ice cream shop in Corso Magenta next to the Palazzo Litta, while their principal seat is in the Corso Sempione area at via Lodovico Castelvetro, 18.

That seat is open Tues-Sun noon-midnight, closed on Mondays (as lots of things that stay open in Italy on the weekends are).

You're going to thank me...but maybe your scales won't!


P.S., I rarely post pics that I haven't snapped, myself, but, heads-up, this tasty one comes from their website.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Alas, another train strike: from 9 PM today, 23 June, for 24 hours

There is lots of great stuff happening in's just that I'm hoppin' with work, so only have time to pass you bad news ... yet another national and local TRAIN strike. If you're not taking a train, you're good to go.

If you are taking a train, you'll be pretty much stuck from 9 PM, today, until one minute before 9 P.M., tomorrow. If you're in a rush, ask about the "pullman," the city-to-city busses. In fact, they sometimes are more convenient than the trains (from Milan to Siena, for example).

If that's all that's worrying you, you can skip the rest of this message...and I wish you good travelling.

If you want to stay updated about potential strikes of all kinds in Italy, ... ...More...

...and if you can read a bit of Italian, go to the official Ministry of Infrastructure "strikes" page by clicking here.

Even if you can't read Italian, here are a few hints and words that will help you.

First of all, when writing the date, Italians put the DAY before the MONTH: 23-06-2016. (It's easy to spot when the day number is higher than 12, but remember it when we're in the first couple of weeks of the month.) The web page has the STARTING date in the far left hand column. The END date is in the second to the left column.

Second, you'll need to look at the "sector" (settore) in the fourth from the left column. SECTORS: general (generale), plane (aereo), busses/trams/metro (trasporto pubblico locale), trains (ferroviario), boats (marittimo), cargo (trasporto merci), helicopters (elicotteri), taxi (taxi), roads--probably for the toll ones (circolazione e sicurezza stradale), cross-sector (intersettoriale) and finally Ncc (apparently: noleggio con conducente = car rental with a driver).

Third, you'll need to look at the "category" (categoria) in the middle column, as this is where you'll be able to see, for example, if the place YOU are interested in is involved (for example, if you scan the column entries, you'll see city and / or region names).

Fourth, the "modality" (modalità) column fourth from the right is where you'll see the times. Italy regulates itself on the 24-hour clock. (13:00 is 1 P.M., 14:00 is 2 P.M., etc. Once you get used to it, it's great.)

Finally, the "relevance" (rilevanza) column third from the right is where you'll see whether it's national (nazionale) or local (locale).

Unless you're versed in which union (sindacato) covers which field, that info in the third column from the left won't be helpful.

If you get brave, you can click on the two blue filter buttons in the upper left, and try to sort the news out by relevance (rilevanza) or sector (settore).

At the time of this writing, the RSS feed link wasn't working. (I've dropped them a line...although a lot of good that will probably do....).

Hope this is helpful! Bookmark it, so you have the info at hand for the next time...gotta run! Bye!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hurry! Free entry for a few more hours: Archaeological Museum, Milan

Free entry to museums every now and then is a nice thing. Our entry fee helps to sustain their activities, but who says "no" to a thank you freebie every once in a while?

Milan's Archaeological Museum is set up on an area that used to be part of the city's ancient imperial Roman walls and kidding...that later housed the city's most prestigious female monastery, eventually overseen by none other than a Sforza abbess.

Have you been, but a long time ago? Go, again. They've renewed the exhibits quite a bit over the last few years.

Archaeological Museum of Milan
Corso Magenta, 15 (in Italian)
Tues-Sun, 9:00 A.M.-5:30 P.M. (last entry, 5:00 P.M.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rain, Rain, go away... well, no, stay for a bit...

Rain is predicted for a few days. It's true, it can clean the air, but it is a bit of a hassle in the city. The fields need the rain, though, and the snow packs need to be rejuvenated to give us water throughout the rest of the year.

Hunker down, put on rain coats and galoshes, and just tough it out.

As my dad says, "You're not made of sugar. You won't melt."

Sugar and spice and everything nice...


Friday, April 29, 2016

Breaking News: Piazza Cordusio problematical from 4 to 8+ PM

The nice traffic lady of our morning news just let slip the news: Piazza Cordusio will be a sticky mess (not quite her words), today, from 4 to 8 P.M. (and after), thanks to a protest gathering.

Visiting the city, and need a hint for how to cross the piazza? Easy peasy: take the MM1 red metro line from the Duomo to Cairoli (the Piazza Castello stop).

The last couple of days have been gorgeous, cold, but gorgeous, notwithstanding the weatherman's prediction of clouds. Hope we get more of the same, today.

Bring your umbrella, rain is on the way for the weekend. (How do the weather gods do that? When it has to rain - and we're glad it does - it seems it always rains on the weekend.)


Monday, April 25, 2016

Gorgeous day at the Sforza Castle in Milan

Gorgeous day...Sunday...long weekend (so feeling relatively guilt-free about not starting the preparation of the following week's lessons)...first thought? Photos at the lovely Milanese castle. Here's...More...

...the front façade facing toward the city.

The original kernel was a gate on the ancient Roman walls around the city, protecting the city from invasion from without.

In the Middle Ages, under the Visconti family, it was enlarged, and became a military fortress, protecting the city from without, but also serving as a last resort to protect the Visconti (who still lived in the ducal palace next to the Duomo) from the Milanese. Decidedly a change.

Having married the Visconti heiress (as a woman, unable to take political control) and being one of the time's most powerful and successful generals-for-hire, Francesca Sforza added these round (a then new development, which better deflected the then still stone cannon balls) defensive towers. If you look under the Sforza heraldic crest, you'll see that the rustication still shows damage from cannon balls. (Some of the stone cannon balls are on display in the inner moats of the castle; when cannon balls became made of iron towards the end of the 15th century -- this innovation was introduced by the invading French -- this kind of fortress was no longer able to withstand the blows, and so military architecture and defensive strategy had to change. Nevertheless, this castle, to which further defensive structures continued to be added over the centuries, was considered fact, it was a traitor that let the invading French in. The story of its fate in the 19th century is for another day.)

In the 3rd quarter of the 15th century, under the Sforza family, part of it was transformed to house the princely quarters (a sign of the duke's nervousness, but also the cause of some lovely frescoes and a beautiful court in the palace area of the fortress).

Towards the end of the 15th century after the assassination of the duke, the duchess Bona of Savoy - mother of the rightful heir, still a minor - built this defensive tower over the entrance that leads from the large military grounds inside the castle to a smaller, more easily defendable part of the castle. Didn't work. Her brother-in-law, a younger brother of the murdered duke, took over, and reigned until he, too, was dethroned, this time by the invading French.

In the meantime...those are my translations on the info panels scattered throughout the open grounds of the castle! They are still there after yea so many years. What a satisfaction.

Monday morning hugs to all,


P.S., Pooh on those who say, in error, that Milan is a gray industrial city with bad weather and nothing to see!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Marathon messes up street level traffic from 8 AM to 5 PM - Sunday 3 April 2016

Marathon messes up street level traffic from 8 AM to 5 PM - Sunday 3 April 2016.

Title says it all.


Hope to have better news, soon.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wednesday 16 Dec 2015...public transportation strike in Milan

Sorry to always be the bearer of bad tidings, but am so SWAMPED with work (no complaining, in times like these!) that I can alert you only to potential strikes.

Public Local Transportation strike in Milan from 8:45 A.M. to 12:45 P.M. ... only four hours, this time ... whew!

Here's hoping that next trimester will be a little less heavy, work-wise.

Hugs for the strike, you might need them.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Please, folks, use professionals for your translations!

Just can't stand it anymore.

Companies big and small ... please use professionals for your translations.

Really, for enormous companies with mega-budgets, like ATM and Trenitalia, there's absolutely no excuse.

I'm just sayin'.

For those of you who don't read Italian, the beginning says: "The hamster of the neighbor of the cousin of the parrish priest of the maid."

(Credit where credit is due: It's my graphic, but the photo is from

Thursday, November 26, 2015

National train strike from 6 PM today (26 Nov) to 6 PM tomorrow (27 Nov)

Travelling by train in Italy today or tomorrow?

Good luck, even with the Malpensa Express special train...More......

...between Cadorna in Milan and the Malpensa international airport.

Tomorrow, there also will be some local public transportation strikes, but the official Italian Ministry of Transportation web site says nothing about Milan.

At least the workers waited to strike until after Expo...let's hope it gets cleared up before the Christmas season.

So, what to do if you need to get to Malpensa?

You'll have to find a helpful friend, or take a taxi.

Be sure to always take only official taxis because these are covered by insurance and have to adhere to equipment and comportment standards, among which is the clear posting of the costs between Milan and the two airports. Last time I noticed, the costs between Milan and Malpensa were around a flat Euro 120.00. (Yes, that's one hundred and twenty Euros.)

Can hardly say my usual "enjoy!," can I?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Roses by any other name ... the Profume Museum in Milan

Stuff we take for granted can, when you start pulling at the threads of its history, fascinate, enthuse and enthrall. The little private Perfume Museum in Milan does just that....More......

Born of a private collector's passion, the museum is just a few steps away from the Cenisio stop on Milan's appropriately named n. 5 lilac line (in case that reference was too obscure for you, how about Chanel n. 5 and the profume of flowers?).

When you get to the address, don't let the unassuming apartment building fool you; it's in a small semi-basement apartment brightened with lights and lots of large clean glass cases housing hundreds and hundreds of examples.

No labels, though, but the visits are obligatorily guided, anyway, by the enthusiastic collector and founder, so you won't miss them.

Two basic threads seemed to interweave, separate and weave, again: the changing fashions of both smell and packaging (and, hence, marketing...OK that makes three threads).

Though perfumes are known to us from just about the beginning of history (i.e., writing, about 3300 BC), the collection concentrates on the period from the late 19th century, when perfumes for ladies -- as far as I can remember of all the info I was trying to absorb -- tended to be of single flowers, pure in their idealized asexual view of women, up to the roaring Twenties, when the social life of ladies burst out of more than corsets, embracing the birth of sensual complex fragrances, up to our own time.

Similarly, perfumes originally were produced, like medicines, by neighborhood pharmacists, and so were packaged anonymously in the same anonymous rectangular bottles also used for medicines. In the early 20th century, the need to attract attention in the ever industrially expanding universe of perfumes also provided fertile ground for the birth and development of creative bottle designs.

My personal favorite? This one for Chanel, created by a stroke of genius and the designer's sneak peak at the tailor's bust Mae West sent to Chanel for the creation of her clothes.

MUSEO DEL PROFUMO (Perfume Museum)
via Messina, 55 - buzzer 5 then 9 then ENTER

Entrance fee: E. 10,00 per person, a minimum of two people

Hours: every day from 10 AM to 3 PM

The Typewriter Museum in Milan

Like to write? Ever used a typewriter, whether manual or electric? Love it when history comes alive through a close look at the everyday objects that surround us? ...More......

Then the Typewriter Museum in Milan is right for you!

About halfway between Maciachini and Zara on the yellow metro line, this little private museum born of a collector's passion is -- I admit -- ...

...a bit fusty, a bit severe with its row upon row upon row of industrial-style shelving packed with lots and lots of machines id'd with a bare minimum of info, but don't let this discourage you...for two reasons.

(1) The owner-founder-director-guide is absolutely engaging and enthralling, and

(2) Soon, the museum will have my single sheet in English that will let you pick out a few of the more important examples to see the collection at your own pace (the museum so enthused me that I volunteered to do it!).

There are about 500 machines in the collection, including calculators, that cover pretty much the whole history of typewriters from the end of the 19th century up to computers.

The premises are small and simple because it's an entirely privately organized and funded museum that doesn't charge admission...considering helping out by buying one of the very reasonably priced publications.

via F.L. Menabrea, 10 - 20159 Milano

Entrance fee: free

Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 3 - 7 PM

Better call ahead if you want a visit or info in English.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Galleria Campari ... Go! Go! Go!

Super, super, super!

Go! Go! Go!...More......

That's my short and sweet message to you about the Galleria Campari, the company museum that celebrates its own history, present and future through an engaging look at their approach to marketing, advertising and PR (so it's great, even if you're not interested in sipping this tasty bitter-sweet aperitif, but only in beautiful graphics, this one by Nicolai Diulgheroff that not only promotes the product, but also, like any self-respecting piece of Futurist art, also celebrates the motion and machinery involved).

The guided visit first touches on the creation and successful sales of Campari liquors, the company's roles in the urban development of Sesto San Giovanni, today's HQ and the site of the museum, and Milan, including its historic presence -- still felt, even if the cafè is no longer directly owned by them -- in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Already interesting, now the real fun begins, as the visit uses integrated multi-media and imaginative interactive displays together with more traditional presentations of then avant-garde sketches and posters to create a path whose meaning is hinted at even in the change of floor coverings. In fact, one of the more enchanting things about the visit is this carefully planned total experience that even encourages you to explore what red -- the color of Campari bitter -- smells like. (I sure hope that this part of the display isn't temporary, just for Expo!)

There is also a shop, where you can buy some great Campari-related stuff.

One more reason to go: to give moral support to a company so historically dedicated to the arts. Not only were their advertising choices part of the push toward modern art, but they also support young contemporary artists. One wall of glass gives a day and night view of a featured work by an up and coming young artist, while the exterior of the wall around the perimeter of the HQ park (partially open to the public!) is dedicated to young graffitti artists invited to reinterpret historic Campari adverising graphics.

Thinking about becoming an expert bartender? They also have an onsite serious academy for bartenders. Next to it, there is also a restaurant about which I found nothing on the web site. I do hope it also has a bar, where one can go to taste the aperitif as it was meant to be. Curious? The website has a page for finding what they call "red bars" located the world over.

Drawbacks for the visit? Only one, and that one only apparently. Personally, I hate being forced to do much of anything, and guided tours are no exception, though if it's possible to choose them, I'm happy to do so. Yes, to see the collection -- housed in the company's HQ -- you have to go on a guided tour, which also means that you can't explore all the bells and whistles so intriguingly provided. On the other hand, there is no didactic info available, except for the image labels, and so you'd miss out on the magic world that is Campari without the guide. If you don't like being forced to do guided tours, either, it's worth your effort to get over the resentment, and do it.

To access the website (only in Italian, another drawback, but the info about opening hours should be clear enough, armed with a dictionary for the names of the days of the week), you have to be of drinking age in your own country. This might be the case for the visits, too; contact them, and ask, if you had thought to go with the kidlets in tow.

Galleria Campari

Via Antonio Gramsci, 161 - Sesto San Giovanni

T +39.02.62251 -- e-mail:

Cost: free

Tours in English: available upon request (you have to call/write an e-mail to reserve the tour, anyway, so it's no extra bother)

Hours: vary according to company plans (for example, they were expanded during Expo, though closed in August), so check out the web site, but when I went there were only three afternoon tours during the week, though there were five on Saturdays from mid-morning to early evening

How to get there from Milan

Take the MM1/red (!) line to the end-of-the-line, the Sesto San Giovanni stop. When you exit the metro, position yourself so that you have your back to the train station. Turn left, and go about one city block down via Antonio Gramsci to their HQ on the other side of the street. A portion of the late 19th-early 20th century façade has been preserved and nested into the modern building of red brick, a lovely architectural touch to soften the clean stark modern style with this traditional building material and integrate it better into the surrounding area.

BEWARE: (1) you need to pay for a ticket with a supplement for Zone 1, because Sesto San Giovanni is outside Milan's city limits. Besides it being the honest thing to do (riding the public transport system without paying, or without paying the supplements, is stealing from the city, and that means from me, too), you risk a hefty fine, (2) until it is updated, do NOT trust the "how to get there" info on the ATM web site, which doesn't offer via Gramsci in Sesto San Giovanni as an option in "GiroMilano," but will send you -- ahem, sent me -- to the opposite site of the a deserted area near the freeway...on a blistering hot day....


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Villa Clerici - Gallery of Sacred Contemporary Art

Like contemporary Christian sacred art, let's say from the 1950s to now? Like early 18th century architecture and frescoes, or just nosey, and want to see how the rich and aristocratic lived in that day? You're in luck, but it will take a minimum of effort since it's a bit out of the way. Easy to get to, though, but more about the practicalities, later.

If you see this, you're not lost. The street doesn't look very promising, but it's the right one, and soon...


(Impatient type? skip to the bottom for the practicalities!)

... you'll be seeing this, Villa Clerici, built in the 1720s and 1730s for Giorgio Clerici having probably been designed by Francesco Croce, the architect responsible for the principal pinnacle (with the figure of the Madonnina) of Milan's Duomo. It was enlarged and decorated for Antonio Giorgio Clerici (1715-1768). From the 1920s, it served as a halfway house for ex-convicts to adjust to free life, and other adjacent buildings raised in the 1950s still help troubled kids. Creating a museum of sacred art by inserting modern and contemporary pieces into this historic context was the 1950s brainchild of Dandolo Bellini.

The grand salon, redone complete with mirrors in the 19th century, is still beautifully decorated in 17th century style, and has a large 1968 bronze sculpture of "a pope" by Floriano Bodini.

It looks like Paul VI, a personal friend of the founder, and is a bit disquieting and ominous with those boring eyes and, bursting out of the gap in his cope, those enormous rubbery hands and a dove. Catholics the world over please forgive me, but it looks like a threateningly enormous deranged cuckoo clock.

Some of the pieces are interesting in and of themselves for their references to famous sacred figures, to Biblical figures and narratives, for having been done by well-known artists, for the possibility to study them up close and personal, for their intriguing nature, or for the possibility of comparing them in your mind to more famous pieces (like this "Pietà" by Attilio Selva that screams out references to Michelangelo's "Rondanini Pietà," in Milan since the 1950s,...

...or the little "David" by Francesco Messina contrasted with the Renaissance ones by Donatello and Verrocchio).

There's even an installation, which I liked -- a lot -- the moment I set eyes on it: "Christus Patiens" (Suffering Christ) by Claudio Bonomi. The rich colors are not only pleasing, but they also evoke the purple vestments and hangings that are used for mourning in Catholic churches, while the reclining figure of Christ, coming, it seems to me, from a Deposition, seems to float on the mystical lap of Mary, and it's possible to observe the iconographical suffering caused by the wound in Christ's side together with the physical suffering of the sculpture, itself, damaged, exposing the inner structure of the broken hand.

Other objects are interesting because, as sketches, they give you a backstage glance at what the artist was trying to achieve. (Often, the painted or sculpted sketch, freer in execution, is much more lively and engaging than the final product.) There are quite a few large original colored drawings done by the artist Aldo Carpi, responsible also for some of the modern stained glass windows in the Duomo. It's interesting to see how the artist skillfully kept the technicalities of producing stained glass in mind as he designed where to put the struts and the canes (these latter being the "H"-shaped bars into which the glass pieces are fit).

Over the grand entryway is a lovely room with fictive sculptures of female figures, perhaps the muses or at least learning and the arts (I saw an artist and a writer, for example). Don't try going through the door on your's fake. Symmetry is everything. Do note, though, that the shadows cast by the 'sculptures' were planned keeping the natural light entering from the windows on our right in mind. Very clever, but not new in the history of art.

Some of the ceilings are still quite pretty.

The front and back gardens were put in by Mr. Bellini to replace the lost original ones, but they, too, were most probably in the Italian style, that is, geometrically laid out, as opposed to the English style favoring a seemingly natural, though really carefully planned, environment. Behind the villa is a large theatrical setting that would make open air theater a joy...if one could stand the heat and mosquitoes.

Admittedly, the museum is a bit old and dusty in its layout, but real museum and art fans won't let that bother them. It also was as hot as Hades the day I went, and the lack of summertime AC means that there are a lot of enormous jumps in temps and humidity levels that are dangerous for the building's decor and many of the more delicate art pieces. It was my first time there, so I can't say if it is heated in the winter, but I can say that -- as is typical of, I'd wager, most Italian public places, including museums -- it isn't handicapped accessible. No bar, not even a vending machine (though they might be considering such, given the items on the questionnaire), but the bathrooms are clean, and it's pretty easy to get to, though it does take a gouge out of your day.

So, is it worth it to go? Yes, if you are interested in 18th century villas and/or modern and contemporary art, sacred or not.

If you live in, or near, the area, they apparently have a lively music and conference program throughout the year, too.


Via Terrugia 8/14

02.647.0066 / 02.6611.8036

Hours: Monday - Saturday from 2:30 to 18:30 PM, no reservations required

Entry fee: E 2.50


Get yourself to the via Terruggia stop in "downtown Niguarda" (Niguarda being a peripheral area absorbed by the expansion of Milan, it still has quite a provincial small town feel to it, despite the large and famous "Novecento" style hospital.) From downtown, it might take about 45 minutes.

To do this, you can take the MM3 / yellow line to Macciachini, then the n.4 tram to NIGUARDA CENTRO (NOT Niguarda Ospedale), get off, and walk in the same direction you just came for about three streets, then turn left onto Terruggia.

You can also take the MM5 / lilac line to Ca'Granda (another name for the hospital, which substituted the Renaissance hospital of that same name, whose buildings now serve as the main seat for the State University of Milan), where you need to take the bus n. 42, and get off at the via Terruggia stop.

Alternatively, you can take the MM5 / lilac line to Bicocca, then take the 52 bus to the stop via Terruggia / via Val di Ledro.

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