Sunday, November 28, 2010

Milan's Taxis

I follow a very VERY good blog by a New York cabbie. Great shots from the cabbie's point-of-view (I particularly like the ones that frame the shot with the cab window), pensive musings that prod, but don't provoke, and the possibility to understand the life of a cab driver, better. In case you're interested it's

So I got the bug to take some photos of Milan's cabs and their life in the city, to share with him and you (plus a few "let the buyer beware" cautions)...More......

Let's start with the "Let the buyer beware" cautions...that have nothing to do with legitimate cabbies.

When you arrive in train stations and airports in Italy, as you exit the passenger-only areas, or get near the exit, men with slightly furtive looks saunter your way. "Oh god, he's either a flasher, or is going to beg for money" jumps to mind. Or maybe someone trying to sell you the local version of the Brooklyn Bridge. That last fleeting impression is closer to the truth, because out of the side of their mouths come half-whispered, "Taxi?" To borrow a phrase:


These are pirate drivers, that is, private people with private cars and no license to be driving for a living, no guarantees of service...and no insurance.

Be patient. Just outside of Italian train stations, airports and scattered about town there are official taxi stands, marked with an orange sign that says, well, "TAXI."

There's no hailing of cabs on the street. (There shouldn't be, anyway, but if the Cosmos is kind, and the cabbie is letting someone off right at your feet, well....) You'll have to go to a taxi stand, or call one of the local taxi companies (find this info online before you go, or at the "Info" point in the airport/train station).

Official Milanese taxis are white, though can be of any kind of car. A buck's a buck: some rent out advertising space on the sides of their cabs. They have the sign on the top (illuminated when available, off when not).

IF they belong to a consortium with a central network for fielding calls for taxis, then they'll have that logo relatively visible on the front doors, or front fenders.

If they are official taxis, but don't belong to a consortium they'll have a piteously small logo of the city of Milan, but it will be so small, you'll be able to see it only when you're right up to the cab. In the interest of public service, I have found a sample on the web, and post it here.

A word to the wise should be sufficient.

Now on to the photos I snapped, yesterday, of Milanese cabs and their life in the city. It was supposed to be a gorgeous day. As you can see, the snow clouds (complete with a couple of flakes) rolled in heavily by noon, but I already was determined to get those shots.

This one is snapped on the Piazza del Duomo opposite to the church. This corner is buzzin' with folks. Because the light was so low thanks to the clouds and the ticking clock (I think it was around 5:30 P.M.), any kind of movement registered as a blur. If you look closely, there's a man on a bike on the right hand side. Taxis come and go with an amazing rapidity, maybe because Christmas shopping already is starting to heat up. Sometimes at this stand there are a couple dozen taxis, but today, only two or three at a time, before getting loaded up with another passenger, and heading off.

This one was snapped in Via Torino, a very busy street leading into the Piazza del Duomo. A couple of years ago, City Hall widened the sidewalks, and narrowed the traffic to two lanes, so it's almost always crowded with trams and taxis, let alone brave and patient (?) drivers in private cars.

Hope you enjoyed this quick look at Milan's cabs. We're heading into Christmas light season, soon, yeah! They'll be switched on on the 7th of December, Milan's patron saint day (St. Ambrose). Stay tuned.

Friday, November 26, 2010

More than Photoless Friday (07), I should say Imageless Friday

More than "photoless Friday," today I should say "imageless Friday." (And there will be some snow and T-Day comments, too, so do read on...!)...More......

In 1953, using transmitters constructed thanks to the funds provided by the Marshall Plan (!), Italian television began to transmit in black and white.

This morning, in honor of that year, the analog transmissions of RAI (the national Italian television company) in Lombardy shut off a few minutes ago at 7:53 A.M., and simultaneously the digital transmissions began. Now there are only a few stations that still transmit in analog signals...for now. I managed to find one local Italian channel still transmitting in analog, at least for a few minutes more (update: OMG, it takes me this long to write these posts? It's already 9:10 A.M., and that one went off, too!), but for how long? Will have to get a of these days....

Serendipitously, after a gorgeous blue, but chilly, day yesterday, it is supposed to snow this morning (and again day after tomorrow, it is winter, after all), so I think I'll give myself permission to set aside chores and worries, bundle up, and head out with my camera to see what I can find for you.

Oh yes, I also wanted to mention that last night I had the loveliest Thanksgiving Day dinner I have ever had since becoming an ex-pat. Despite the fact that T-day is my favorite American holiday, a time to take stock, muse, and count blessings, and, ahem, to eat--guilt free--some of my favorite things, it always sneaks up on me because there are no external reminders, and then it's too late.

The company was delightful, people quite different one from the other, but open to serene exchanges and warm-hearted smiles. The restaurant had done its best to offer a traditional American-style T-day dinner, with refined touches (how could they resist?), and, I must say, for the most part, they succeeded.

Some small differences were, let's say, acceptable variations (the pumpkin soup was deliciously thick, but the very small portion turned out to be a blessing because it had been a bit overspiced with something, perhaps ginger and/or white pepper, the turkey was a breast with the stuffing rolled up into it...interesting..., while the gravy was too thin, but still tasty, and the cranberry sauce was not only a bit thin, but also VERY tart, but it still was such a comfort, since cranberries are impossible to find here, and the sauce is almost impossible to find), another was a welcome variation (what they called "sweet potatoes"--which I really hate--were not OUR orange gaggingly sweet potatoes, but an oatmeal colored mash of only slightly sweet whatever-it-was, and so it was quite tasty), another two were a bit of a disappointment because of expectations, but in and of themselves very good (pumpkin cheesecake that was my less-preferred mousse-style cheesecake, and not detectably pumpkin-y, while what had been touted as traditional American apple pie was anything but traditional, it was more like a sweet apple pizza, but, what the heck, they were still good), and there was the teentsy-est spoon plop of mashed potatoes that I have ever seen in my entire life (portions in some American restaurants are too gigantic, and facilitate obesity too easily, anyway), but at the end of the dinner, my tummy was, like Goldilock's porridge, just right, not too much and not too little, and my heart glowed with the comforting company.

Just what the doctor ordered.

We thanked the restaurant for the good idea of a thematic dinner, hoping they'll do it, again, and I herewith officially and sincerely thank the delightful friends, who kindly invited me to share their festive table.

It has left a much needed happy glow.

For them, I am thankful.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monuments: St. Ambrose takes the place of Philip II of Spain

Happens all the time. You're in favor one minute, then your not. That's what happened to poor Philip II Hapsburg of Spain...More......

He inherited the dukedom of Milan (how did big hunks of northern Italy fall into Spanish hands?...long story for another post), and a statue of him was put on the the façade of the new (and still visible) Palazzo dei Giureconsulti (Jurists), built on land once owned by the pre-Visconti faction, the Della Torre family. The land faced the city hall square (the Broletto, just a stone's throw from the Duomo, and on a straight course between it and the castle...surely not by chance) by a then popular architect Vincenzo Seregni with money donated by Pope Pius IV, uncle of Milan's pesky Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, charged with whipping Milan into post-Council of Trent rigorous shape, and the younger culturally-inclined Cardinal Federico Borromeo, creator of the Ambrosian Library and Pinacoteca, which we still visit, today.

So, there's Philip II Hapsburg of Spain on the fancy office building façade. He somehow escaped notice during the Austrian Hapsburg imperial rule, but when the chilly breeze of self-rule began blowing through Milan around the whirlwind that was Napoleon, his sculpture was torn down, and replaced with one dating to 1833 by Luigi Scorzini, which depicts St. Ambrose in the act of blessing.

A fitting beginning to this tour through Milan's monuments because St. Ambrose--Milan's bishop in the second half of the 4th century A.D. and without whom it's very likely that Christianity the world over would be very different, today--is the city's patron, and his holy day is fast approaching: December 7.

P.S., It's said that Seregni simply enclosed in sculpted marble the late medieval Della Torre bell tower of the Palazzo (a couple of grains of salt with any "it's said..." phrase are always healthy)...centuries of history all around us, just waiting to be enjoyed, if we mentally scratch the surface.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leaves of grass and the birth of the Italian nation

Leaves of grass and the birth of the Italian nation...huh?

It's all about life priorities, a topic foremost in my mind for months, and a question I've posed to my ESL students, so why not open a discussion about it on my blog dedicated to Milan?...More...

It's always good to stop and smell the roses, but are you really? (HINT: you might cherish this thought, you might even THINK that you are doing this, already, but, until a wrenching tragedy strikes you or a loved one--Cosmos forbid that it should--you probably are only scratching the surface of those proverbial rose petals.)

Poignant Stoic thoughts run through many of the spiritually-oriented (as opposed to religious institutionally-oriented) readings I enjoy. Here is one immediately at hand, which might help you think, think, and think, again, whatever religion you may (or may not) profess:

'Human life is frail, fame and everything good in it is like grass, like the flowers in the fields, which wither and fade away' (my paraphrase of Isaiah 40:6-8 and I Peter 1:24 of the King James version of the Christian Bible)

How to cope with this fragility?

A popular saying in English (someone surely will look it up on Bartlett's Quotations, and tell me...right now, I'm too lazy to do it): 'Build as if you will live forever, but live as if you will die tomorrow.'

Carpe diem.

In the real sense.

Not 'Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die' (another old hat phrase in English), but in the true Stoic sense:

'Live in the present, live each moment to its fullest, doing your best to be a better person, for your self, for those around you, for the world.'

Or, to paraphrase Marcus Aurelious, my most cherished author:

'Let your every deed and word and thought be those of someone, who can depart from life this very moment. How quickly everything vanishes: physical things from the universe, memories of them in eternity, and the ephemeral and worthless sense perceptions.

'What is it to die, but a function of nature? We need only to associate ourselves with the divine spark that is in our hearts, and to serve it truly. How do we do this? By keeping it pure from passion and aimlessness and discontent with anything that proceeds from the Universe, or our fellow men because whatever comes from the Universe is worthy of reverence, and whatever comes from men, if from love, will be compassionate, but if evil, from ignorance.

'In the end, the present lasts just as long for everyone. The past is already gone, the future is not yet here, so we can't lose either. So it is only the present from which we might depart, and the present is only what we make of it, how we view it. In a word, all the things of the body are as a river, and everything of the soul like a dream and a vapor. Life is like warfare and a pilgrimage, and fame after death is only forgetfulness.

'What then can help us on our way? One thing, and one thing only: Philosophy. And this consists in keeping the divine spark within us pure and unwronged, lord of all pleasures and pains, doing nothing aimlesslessly, or with deliberate falsehood and hypocrisy, independent of others' actions or inactions, and, in particular, welcoming whatever comes as natural, and above all, waiting for death with good grace, as a liberation, as a natural part of the cycle of life.' (Meditations, II:11-17)

What does this have to do with Milan?

Like so many other cities, Milan is studded with memorials to heroes. This year also is the 150th anniversary of the official birth of the Italian nation (though that effort stretched over a number of years, in reality).

Fame is fleeting. We live in the memory of others only so long as they live, but to have done something positive for those around us, whether on a small personal scale, or a larger civic, or national, scale, to love, truly love, those around us, and put our priorities in a proper order, in short, to examine our lives on a daily basis, that, I think, is one of the fundamental essences of what it means to be truly human.

In the days to come, I think I'll post some of those memorials around Milan.

Thanks for listening.

If you prefer a funny, but poignant, way to say all this, there's a good story floating around the internet about a philosophy professor, golf balls, pebbles sand and coffee (or beer, depending on your personal preferences). Here's just one link of many:

Monday, November 22, 2010

A cherubic grin

Oh, no! Not another week that has flown by! (Sorry! Not very original, but I couldn't resist!)...More......

This little gem comes from the façade of the Ca' Granda, a mid-15th century hospital sponsored by the ex-condottiere-then-brand-spanking-new-gotta-make-a-good-impression-on-my-subjects-lord, Francesco Sforza and his born-illegitimate-but-legitimized wife, Bianca Visconti, the only heir of the last Visconti duke of Milan.

The hospital was one of the most advanced of the day, planned by Filarete, a Florentine architect sent to Milan by Francesco's pal, Lorenzo the Magnificent (homely, REALLY homely, guy, but with good taste). The first half of the hospital got started under Filarete, but his snobby attitude got him pushed out of the hospital and eventually out of Milan.

The second, planned, part was added in the first half of the 17th century during the Spanish domination, but the façade was completed purposefully using the original molds, for visual coherence (pretty sensitive, for the day).

The third part, not planned by Filarete, was built during the early 19th century during the Napoleonic era. Not using the original molds...considered oh so fussy by then...but fitting in, nonetheless.

The cute cherub in the upper part of the photo made a good needlepoint design, which you can see on my needlepoint blog:
I took this photo on the ‎26th of September ‎2010 at 4:45 P.M.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photoless Friday (06): a sincere fashion/lifestyle question

I just don't get it.

I didn't get the ruined look when it came into style ("You want me to pay three and a half gazillion dollars for a ripped up faded pair of jeans? Tell ya' what, I'll sell you MY ripped up faded jeans off my bod for half that, then go buy myself something that isn't going to fall apart the first time I wash it, or air condition my fanny in undesired areas!")

I really don't get the...More......

...rastafarian look for people whose hair isn't naturally suited for being turned into grungy strips of felt of human-generated protein origin. (Oh, that comment's going to win me friends and fans....)

But I *really* don't get the "let's go out of our way to be ugly" style. You know it when you see it: overwhelming black heavy glasses frames on small delicate faces, be they male, or female; stark white glasses (not sunglasses) frames; clunky enormous tennis shoes that would make an astronaut blush; jacket hems purposefully built to be way out of line right under the buttons; anything novel just for the sake of being novel; tufts and spiky stuff and contrasting jumbles; handbags so floppy and enormous that they are more suited for the baggage carrier belt than a shoulder; logos up the wazoo plastered over every square pixel of surface in a "horror vacuui" not seen since the Hiberno-Saxon manuscript illuminations; anything Vivienne Westwood (oh, there's another comment guaranteed to win me fans).

"But beauty is in the eye of the beholder," "They're expressing the angst of our age," "They're creating a sense of tribe" (that one's scary) and "They're rebelling" are come comebacks that come to mind. So does "The fashion industry has to keep coming up with something new 4 times a year to sell, and anyone without a strong sense of self is prone to buy and wear the emperor's new clothes."

If you can help me understand, REALLY understand, please do.

P.S., I just saw high waisted pants for women on a runway...the Cosmos be praised...hiphuggers feel like they're constantly falling off (for lots they do, providing oh so entertaining views...), and make even the smallest behinds look like two tons of grain in a couple of gunny sacks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Torre Velasca

Yes, it's somebody's home AND somebody's workplace....More......

The Torre Velasca--planned by the BBPR studio (Belgioioso-Banfi-Peressuti-Rogers) in the early 1950s, but completed in 1958--was Milan's first significant post-WWII structure and first "skyscraper" (though it has only 25 stories, it's height limited by a city ordinance in effect until recently that prohibited buildings taller than the "Madonnina," the beloved image of the Madonna on the tallest pinnacle of the Duomo).

The narrower part below is where the offices are. The apartments are in the larger part, above.

It's not easy to photograph from nearby because the Piazza Velasca is relatively small, and enclosed by buildings.

I snapped this photograph on the 14th of August, 2004, at about 6:15 P.M.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photoless Friday (04): I don't know anything about art [not true], but I know what I like [not true]

When I hear people say, "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like," I experience a number of conflicting emotions (I confess that, depending on what I'm looking at, it even can be my own gut reaction), but since the unexamined life is not worth living, here are a few ruminations, in case you feel this applies to you, and you're interested in getting over this art angst (you'll feel better, afterwards, really you will)....More......

(1) "I don't know anything about art..."

Not true. Simply not true.

Everything you've seen throughout your life--and the context in which it was seen--has helped to shape your taste.

Even if you may not be consciously aware of the precepts and judgements inherent in that presentation.

Aye, as we say, there's the rub.

Setting aside the more complex phenomenon of the change of taste in any given society over time, let's use one example that might break the impasse.

Let's say that you grew up in a household that didn't really pay much attention to art, but, for devotional reasons, had that old well-known print of a guardian angel helping two kids over a scary bridge.

Looking at that print, day in and day out, because it comforted you, because your mom called your attention to it to remind you to be careful while crossing the street, because..., because... because..., you formed an unconscious idea of what art should be like.

It should be in a traditional medium, like a print, for starters.

It should have realistically portrayed images.

It should use a very precise rendering of the images portrayed.

It should be in realistic colors (or, if not, in black and white).

Those are four very powerful conditioning concepts (we could make a longer list, but these will suffice).

Now let's backtrack in time to the late 19th century: Impressionist paintings.

Traditional medium (painting): CHECK

Realistically portrayed images: CHECK

Precise rending: BZZZZZZZ

Realistic colors: BZZZZZZZ

Did you know that Impressionist painting, which pretty much everyone today accustomed to the occidental way of painting recognizes as 'beautiful,' roused up hornet's nest after hornet's nest of protest? Well, it did. 'Til people got used to it.

Ditto for the Fauvres, for example, and for Picasso and his ilk (there's my own personal taste bias peeking out, if you can catch it), let alone "happenings," video art, light installations, and so on and so forth, that aren't in a traditional media.

See? You do know more about how you define art than you think, it's just that your judgements are unconsciously formed.

(2) "...but I know what I like."

Also not true.

If you're not consciously aware of the mental yardstick you are using to make your distinctions between "I like that" and "I don't like that," than you don't know what you like.

What you really mean is "...but I can pinpoint what I like."

You could go into an art gallery with me, and point your finger at things as we walked through it, saying "I like that...I like that...I really like that...I DEFINITELY do NOT like that...," and so on, but you wouldn't know why.

That's the point of this (windy, but hopefully fun) post.

If you want, you could go to an art appreciation course (concentrating on, well, appreciating/understanding taste), or an art history course (concentrating on, well, the history broadly understood).

"Aahhh man, that's gonna be so boring!" Is that your immediate response?

It wouldn't be, really, you just have to find what piques your curiousity, and pursue that, but if you can't get over this fear, just try asking yourself, "What am I SEEING?" and "Why and I responding in the way that I am?"

You'll be on your way to creating your own personal art yardstick, whether still conditioned by traditional taste, or open to new currents.

The important thing is to KNOW.

What's all this got to do with Milan?

Milanese art, conditioned by courtly International Gothic taste long after the Florentine developments we now call the Renaissance, long was pooh-poohed even by professional art historians into the 20th century, whose own personal art yardsticks were conditioned by Renaissance rules.

Thankfully, that is changing, and historic Milanese art is, like its history, being reevaluated with a more neutral eye (well, as neutral as it's possible to be).

(P.S., ARE YOU A PROFESSIONAL OF ANY SORT NEEDING TO HONE YOUR ATTENTION TO DETAILS? Doctor? Lawyer? Private Investigator? Et Al? You probably will be able to improve your skills of observation by at least 10% by studying art history...combine work with fun, why not?!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Modern delight: via della Chiusa, 15

I am not a complete Troglodyte. There are some modern and contemporary things that I like. This little building tucked away on a small (historic) street behind San Lorenzo Maggiore is proof....More......

I haven't been able to find the info about the original architects, but I have found the info about the architects responsible for its 2004 renovation: Goring & Straja Architects. To see their shots of the building, go to, find the "Business & Retail" category, and go to n. 6: Carlyle Offices building renovation. Be sure to run your mouse over their photos; they become colored.

What drew me to this building? It's "Lightness of Being": the glass light box tacked on to the front, the changes in atmosphere caused by the turning on and off of the lights and their different colors, the reflections of the atmosphere in the glass.

I'm quite curious to see images of the façade of the building prior to their renovation. Maybe I should explore their photos, better.

By the way, via della Chiusa is yet another of those too-easy-to-miss remnants of Milan's watery past. Milan was criss crossed with canals, did you know that? Well, it was, before they were closed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and here ran one of the little canals with a lock ("chiusa"), behind the mighty, significant and historic San Lorenzo Maggiore, founded in the Early Christian period, and given a new roof in the late 16th century after a devastating earthquake (relative rare in this alluvial plain). It will get a post (or posts) all of its own another day. So should the waterways. Ah, so much to do, so little time.

I snapped this shot on March 11, 2005, at 7:30 P.M., during one of my long walks through the city, just looking, exploring and enjoying.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yet another beautiful wrought iron grill

Can’t help but notice the lovely grill work, in so many different styles, all over Milan. Here’s another one.


I also can't help asking myself why I find it so lovely. The observations distilled into 'rules' by Owen Jones in his Grammar of Ornament come to mind: mix geometric shapes (squares and circles are more satisfying than ovals and rectangles) with curved, all the while respecting the natural forms, even while stylizing them, from which imagery is derived. (I'm halfway through my own personal analysis of his book, and am planning to discuss it more fully in my needlepoint blog, but the project is temporarily bogged down because life is getting in the way. Hopefully, in a few months, things will start to settle down.)

Many late 19th-early 20th century buildings in Milan have grill work either in the lower base of the building, or immediately along the building in the sidewalk.

They cover the windows letting light and air into semi-basement and basement areas.

I snapped the picture for you in Corso di Porta Romana near Piazza Missori on Sept. 5, 2010, at about 8:15 A.M.

(To see the needlepoint diagram I created out of this image, go to Ars acupicturae stellae – Star’s Needlepoint Blog,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photoless Friday (03): Random Acts of Kindness

Does this happen to you, too?

You read, or hear, or see, something that seems fleetingly interesting at the time, but your attention flickers, following the flash of the TV, a witty quip, the need to concentrate on the principal matter at hand.

Then you find that little forgotten flicker puff to life, like a hidden burning ember, barely visible at first, then slowly growing into something that you can't ignore, even if you wanted to?

One fellow's blog entry did that for me: random acts of kindness...More......

I've hunted through the net, again, to relocate his blurb. No such luck, yet. I still may find it because I want to thank him.

In some ways, he sounded like me: rendered harried and even anxious by the plummeting landslide that is modern life in a metropolis, but he was doing something to discipline himself to detach himself from the anxiety imposed from without.

Now that's something I can identify with: self-discipline. "Oh yeah!," I said to myself, "maybe what he does will work for me, too," and so I read on.

One thing he did: volunteering (!) to relinquish his premier place in the crammed supermarket line.


That's self-sacrifice.

If I've got a basket full, and someone with just a couple of things asks, I usually, even happily, let them go before me. Still happily, even if the next person asks, but the third.... I'd like to get home before midnight, too, even if I do try to leave plenty of breathing space for this kind of chore. It's in my own self-interest; as an anti-anxiety strategy, it's very effective. But volunteering to do it? Wow, again.

[Hello, local supermarket! Would you please create a "10 items or less" line, at least for peak hours? Seems pretty obvious to me.... ]

He gave another example, or two, which I've forgotten, and then, almost as if a Freudian slip, he dropped the words "random act of kindness."

"Cute turn of phrase," I said to myself, and kept on reading his examples, concentrating on how to do them myself (or congratulating myself smugly because I do them, already).

Much much later, this niggling phrase prompted me to search in the internet for his blog post, again, and I discovered that it wasn't just his cute turn of phrase, but a real movement, no, movements with various names (it's striking, though, the need in today's society to associate them with violence ["random acts violence"] and money ["pay back"] to get our attention).

These movements encourage us to do at least one spontaneous, or planned; big, or little; personal, or anonymous act of kindness a day.

What do I do? For example, if drivers stop to let me cross at cross walks without lights, I hurry, don't dawdle, across the street, and I give them a smile and a little "Thank You" wave, hoping that that transmits my smile into their hearts, something that will help them face the rough spots of their days (and we all have them).

It used to be called good ol'-fashioned common courtesy.

I was raised to think of the other person first. Really folks, it's not so hard...need to paw through your purse/brief case/pockets for that darned ringing cell phone, or desperate for a cigarette/breath mint? Step to the side of the sidewalk. What does it cost you? In effort, pratically zilch, but you'll make the people around you very happy (or at least, you won't annoy the heck out of them, and make their already harried life just that much worse...though it does help, too, to keep things in perspective; other people's lives are probably a lot worse than your own...what can you do to help them?).

Do it just because it's right. You may not get that satisfying smile of thanks, but your heart will smile to yourself.

Here's just one link to get you started with ways you can implement Random Acts of Kindness in your classrooms, in your home, in your neighborhoods, at work, and on the street, everyday:

You'll feel better.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blue skies and sweeping sculpture

Lest I give the wrong impression that it is always gray and rainy in Milan, here's...More......

...a snap of a not particularly lovely public monument, taken from its good side presenting a sweep against a gorgeous blue sky, not unlike what promises to develop, today.

For me, this modern stuff only starts to grow on me (a bit) if I learn something about it, so here goes, in case it's helpful for you, too:

The sculptor was Francesco Somaini (1926-2005) of Como, who, after a 1950s Cubist period, began, between 1962-1964, to develop a (admittedly fascinating) technique of pelting wax, or clay, models with sand mixed in compressed air, in order to give his works a more organic feel, and to get away from the (Michelangelesque) traditional approach of sculpting as a medium of removing bits to get to the figure imprisoned within the block of material.

Pretty sad years for Italian art, though, in my opinion: ugly was pursued, the uglier the better. They must have been working through bad war memories and experiences and the shock of the post-war period.

The sculpture, vigorous and ungainly depending on the point-of-view, is dedicated to Italian sailors, and is located in the same-named park on Corso XXII Marzo.

Knowing that it was dedicated to sailors made me think of a ripped and viciously flapping sail, a sad reminder of deaths at sea. Then, looking at it more closely, it also reminded me think of the Nike in the Louvre, complete with wings.

If you read Italian, see

I took these shots on March 21, 2009, at 4:30 P.M.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A river goddess to chase away the rainy day blues

It rained, yesterday. It's raining, today. Hopefully, it won't rain tomorrow. In the meantime, it's cold. And dreary. Too uncomfortable to go outside, and the light is useless, anyway. Doesn't make for cheery photos. So, I decided to hunt through my files,...More......

...and found this "little" beauty: a recently restored river goddess, on the Porta Garibaldi gate in Milan.

The gate was commissioned from G. Moraglia, and erected in 1826 at the expense of local citizens (aka, "collective kissing up") in honor of the 1825 visit of Emperor Francesco I, at a time when the Hapsburg family of Austria still was in possession of a great portion of northern Italy. It was rededicated to Garibaldi after the final breaking away of these areas from the empire in the late 19th century.

The inspiration for the figure and its companion on the other side of the gate obviously was to be found in the figures by Michelangelo for the de' Medici tomb in Florence.

The gate was under scaffolding for years, and only recently has been revealed, lovely and white and clean (for how long?).

I took this shot on the 19th of September at about 2:15 P.M.

To see the needlepoint diagram of the goddess, go to my needlepoint blog, Ars acupicturae Stellae - Star's Needlepoint Art:, thanks!
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