Friday, May 13, 2011

Photoless Friday 13 *and* Friday the 13th, everything O.K. so far...‘What’s on in Milan?’

Handcrafted objects sold in stalls and stands by street venders, food prepared with medieval recipes, the hustle and bustle of a street of the Middle Ages full of colorful medieval-style costumes up your alley? This weekend, the 14th and 15th of May at the castle in nearby Legnano, there will be an evocation of a medieval village around its walls.

Pounding horse flesh, colorful medieval-style costumes and swirling banners more up your alley?...More......

On the 29th of May, still at the castle of Legnano and by the same organizers, there will be the “Palio” of Legnano, an event somewhere ‘between folklore and history,’ in the organizer’s own words.

The event modern in its inception celebrates the decisive victory on the 29th of May, 1176, near Legnano against the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I Hohenstaufen, known as “Redbeard.” A decisive step towards self-government on the Italian peninsula and Milan’s slow return to power after being a bit snubbed in the early Middle Ages by the invading Lombard lords (though invaders, it’s their name that stuck for the region they ruled for over two hundred years), who preferred nearby Pavia for their home base.

First, a stately parade will give the 1200+ participants a chance to show off their costumes, then there will be a Mass held from the famous “Carroccio,” a wagon with a war altar, evoking the original created by the Archbishop of Milan Ariberto d’Intimiano for a much earlier war (waste not, want not), which encouraged the medieval soldiers to beat back Redbeard. After the Mass, captains will be appointed for each of the 8 “contrade” into which Legnano is divided, the horses will be blessed, and in the afternoon the costumed participants will parade from Piazza Carroccio past the statue of Alberto da Giussano (who may, or may not, ever have lived, but who is credited with leading the troops against Redbeard, and whose image has been used by an Italian political party favoring more local autonomy), then will gather in the “campo” first for the charge not of the Light Brigade, but of the Company of Death (“Compagnia della Morte), then the “palio” (horse race) between the “contrade.” The winning “contrada” gets to take care of the “Croce di Ariberto” (a reproduction of the original, first donated by Archbishop Ariberto to the Milanese church of San Dionigi, then transferred centuries later to the Duomo of Milan when San Dionigi was razed by Piermarini so the area could be part of his public gardens, still delightful to enjoy; a reproduction also is to the left upon entering Milan's Duomo through the main portals; the original is in the Duomo museum) until the next year’s “palio.”

And you thought Milan and its “hinterland” (outlying areas) were stodgy.

What else is up?

“Milano Food Week” is finishing up on the 15th, so, if you want to sample haute cuisine by some of the city’s most important (and expensive) chefs for an affordable (or so they say) fee and enjoy some of the city’s most beautiful courtyards and spaces in the process, you’d better hurry.

The 14th and 15th also will offer “Duomo incontra l’arte”: an open air exhibit of art for sale, some of it looking professional, some of it decidedly hobby-ish, some of it modern, some of it traditional, and the whole range in between.

Won’t go into detail about the other exhibits, seen and unseen, at museums or galleries, closing farther in the future, except to say that the current exhibit at the Palazzo Reale on Arcimboldo (sometimes spelled Arcimboldi)—the guy, who did those “weird” portraits composed of fruits, vegetables, plants, animals and fish (expressing dominion of the sitter over the micro-macrocosm)—is one of the best exhibits I’ve ever seen, really, in my whole entire life (except for those pesky too small exhibit labels), both from a content and a presentational point-of-view. It’s a must-see, and closes soon, too, on the 22nd of the month, so hurry up!

For this and other information, see the free bi-lingual “what’s happening” purse-sized guide produced by the Province of Milan, called “Milano Mese” (for the web site version, called “Visit Milano”). It is a great source for info, whatever your cultural preferences from Gregorian chant to hard rock, from ancient Egyptian to contemporary Milanese art, from Living History events to Happenings, as well as local fairs and fun stuff for kids.

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