Saturday, February 19, 2011

Let's start with my self-sacrifice on your behalf, shall we?

O.K., so the day was lovely for the first time in what seems eons. O.K., so I already had planned to take a long walk bringing along my camera to take pictures for you. What I hadn't planned was sacrificing myself on your behalf by eating a gelato...More......

...but sacrifice myself I RIGOLETTO.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Just you think about that yummy Italian gelato, while I back up (that's a bit mean, isn't it?! Naughty me!).

As I said, the weather was fine...finely. And short-lived. Clouds are supposed to roll back in, tonight, with rain scheduled (again) for tomorrow afternoon. It seems a very rainy winter, to me, though the weatherman has said that we're behind in rain fall.

So, instead of facing this (and, believe me, it's already getting better...notice the cabinet...there is stuff properly put this house, by now)...

or this (just one small sample of all that stuff to be carted downstairs, literally, to my teentsy storage box, and me with my bad back)...

I decided to get out, get some fresh air, walk, walk, walk, and nothing gets me outside faster than nice weather and my camera.

I might have shared this building with you before, already, but the light was so good.... It's one of the few buildings of the "vecchia Fiera" (old convention center) still standing.

Right across the street, in Piazza 6 Febbraio, is a gigantic aspirin. That's what it looks like to me. Bayer should sponsor keeping it clean. Instead, it's "Cerchi in movimento" ("Circles in Movement"...not only have I never seen it move, but it also always has been in the same position and angle...I'm pretty sure, anyway) by Carmelo Cappello (1987). Now you know.

Most of the old convention center buildings already have come down, and are being replaced by a gigantic urban development project called "City Life," which will have a couple of screwy twisting skyscrapers (hmmmm, have a view from umpteen stories up, and seemingly nothing below my feet, a line from Monty Python jumps to mind: "Now, where's the pleasure in that?!") and smaller buildings for (expensive) housing, offices, shops and a lot of green park areas, which probably are planned to hook up, eventually, with the delightful view opening this post...a reflecting pool with a little fountain in one of the corners of oddly shaped Piazza Giulio Cesare. "The Four Seasons" was created by the architect Renzo Gerla in 1927 (the same architect responsible for the City Hall in Via Larga), and used to precede the principal entryway to the then-functioning convention center.

It's not so far from a delightful Milanese "Liberty" (Art Nouveau) villa by the famous architect Giuseppe Sommaruga. The Romeo-Faccanoni villa (1912-13) is probably more famous today for two reasons, one visible from the street, and one not. It now houses one of Milan's renowned private clinics, the "Columbus," that's visible from the street, but what intrigues more is what can't be seen from the street...purposefully so.

From 1900-1904, Sommaruga had done another, much more visible building, on Corso Venezia just a hop, skip and jump from Piazza San Babila for the Castiglioni family. The building, with its fascinating contrasts of vegetal "Liberty" motifs and its stark blocky core (I find this latter aspect typical of a lot of Milanese architecture of the late 19th-early 20th century, whatever the style), quickly became a predominant stylistic influence. But that's not what interests us, here. Ernesto Bazzaro the sculptor did two female figures to decorate the portal of the front door. Decorate they did, for the blink of an eye.

Because of the bare naked and ample "seating attributes"--turned to the public--of the two "ladies," the house quickly got the nickname "Ca' dei Ciapp" ("House of the Butt Cheeks" in Milanese dialect, direct and expressive), which probably didn't tickle up and coming Mr. Castiglione's wit. The statues came down, and went up--now on the back porch--of this other Sommaruga building. Since my husband once was in that hospital years ago, I think I snapped a shot of the "ladies" and their attributes. I don't recall finding them particularly "Ciapp-y," but if I can find the picture, I'll share it with you, and you can decide for yourself.

Just around the corner is the Old Musicians' Home founded and funded by Verdi, rappresented by this charming sculpture with an ironical smile and jaunty stance (even if you aren't so fond of such realistic art) by Enrico Butti (1913). The building was designed by the highly influential architect Camillo Boito, and was constructed in 1899; the structure not only provides for decent housing for destitute elderly professional musicians (there's even a decently-sized concert hall for their entertainment), but also houses in the courtyard the monument by Luigi Secchi to Camillo's younger brother and text writer for many of Verdi's opera, Arrigo, while in the crypt decorated with mosaics designed by the then-renowned artist, Ludovico Pogliaghi, is the burial place of Giuseppe Verdi and Giuseppina Strepponi.

There I was, minding my own business, lapping up the fresh sun and air, oh so good for the soul, and heartily enjoying the OBSERVING that happens when a camera is in my hands, when I turned a corner, and there it was.

The word "GELATERIA."

No, too many calories.... My feet hesitated. But the light is so good...I could get a good picture of it for the blog..., and so my fate was sealed. And it's your fault.

So, how was the gelato?

Very good, not the best--I like my gelato creamier, and I had expected the pear with chocolate bits to be creamy (maybe they were false expectations)--but very good. In all fairness, I have to say that the pistachio was excellent...hearty and creamy. (Never liked pistachio in the States, had only had awful industrially produced pistachio...tasteless evocation of "Green eggs and ham" by Seuss, but the Italian gelato "artigianale"--the shop version of "home-made"--is entirely different...a revelation...a sense experience...a...oh Star, get back on track!)

How was it priced?

Average price.

Would I go back?


Licking your chops, yet?

RIGOLETTO, via R. Sanzio, 1, tel. 02.4981820, ENTRANCE AROUND THE CORNER ON VIA SAN SIRO! (P.S., just a reminder that I get no kick-backs of any sort for these helpful hints)

(I snapped these shots for you in the late morning of Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, except for the Palazzo Castiglioni, which I snapped August 25, 2004, around 10:30 A.M.)


Nancy said...

I know this late to be reading this post, but I just came across your blog. My husband and I are leaving for Milan (to attend I Salone) Saturday and I have been trying to find a good site to use to find out more about the city and to help us find great walks. We were going to do the gelateria to gelateria walk (i.e., walk great distances so that you can eat the gelato at the end) and your blog has been so helpful in that regard (nothing like walking miles for gelato and having it be "meh"! So far I've just read your gelato postings but will be devouring (so to speak) the rest of your posts posthaste!
-- Nancy Smith

Star said...

Dear Nancy,
Thanks so much for writing! I'm so glad my blog has been helpful, and that you'll thumb through it when you get back, too.
(And if you find any out-of-the-way mom-and-pop-store ice cream places, send me your info, and I'll check it out with thanks!)

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