Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saronno...what a lovely day I had, yesterday (and it could have been even better, if...)

What a lovely day I had in nearby Saronno, yesterday (that is, Saturday, the 30th of July, 2011...if I can get the "delayed publishing" to, two, three... :-)

First of all, it started out with free regional train tickets, thanks to a kind friend. Good deal! (Thanks!!!)

Second, it corresponded with my first day of FREEEEEEEEDOM, now that the (marvelous...but it's still work, folks) Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, where I have been working since the beginning of has closed to the public for the August rituals of deep house-cleaning and the like. (

Third, because I finally got to do something I've wanted to do for a looooonnng time, and that brings me to the day's activities, starting with a small brewery beer and some lunch...


...well, it was SUPPOSED to start with some small brewery beer...their website says--somewhere--that they're open for lunch, but the hours are nowhere to be found...and last minute plans didn't allow for calling (well, O.K., I could have tried calling in the morning, but by then I figured that I was going, anyway, and that, if the brewery wasn't open for lunch, I'd find SOMETHING good to eat, this is Italy, after all). Boo-hoo. As I found out reading their handy dandy sign on their door, they're open for lunch only on the weekdays (and not open at all on Sunday...forewarned is forewarmed). La Fabbrica Birrificio Artigianale, Via Padre Giuliani, 38 ('s on the "wrong side" of the tracks...take the underground corridor to the back side, and it's about a 10-15 minute walk, and a bit farther down the road than the marker on the Google Maps, but just go a bit farther on, and you'll see the sign. I'll try, again, in the fall, and give you the scoop on the mug. (,+saronno&hl=it&sll=41.47566,12.392578&sspn=15.13575,39.331055&t=h&z=16)

What was next on the list? The Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Miracles (il Santuario della Beata Vergine dei Miracoli, Piazza del Santuario, 1), also on the "wrong" side of the tracks, but easy to find, and about a 10-15 minute walk from the brewery. It reopens in the afternoon at 3 P.M. Fair enough. Might as well eat nearby, right? Not as easy as it sounds. Found a couple of caffes open, but...get ready for it...I had to eat at a McDonalds. In Italy. Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with a McDonalds burger and fries once or twice a year (calories, folks, calories), but to HAVE to eat there because there was nothing Italian nearby. And it was a good excuse for a burger, fries and a coke. (

Lovely 16th century church, bit overdone on the interior with the verrrrrrrry Milanese (Lombard?) tradition of white stucco relief sculptures detailed with gilding. Paintings supposedly by the masters Ferrari and Luini. Their touted museum? Much to my dismay, open only by appointment, for guided visits...for groups...or pilgrims. Oh well, the church was interesting, and worth the visit.

Next on the list? The Museo Giuseppe Giannetti of ceramics, via F. Carcano, 9 (just around the corner from the front side of the Saronno central train station)...tah dah!...THE reason why I had wanted to go to Saronno in the first place. Mr. Giannetti collected ceramics from the 17th century onwards (the ceramics, that is, not his collecting activities...just an ESL joke for my students!), and his last surviving daughter gave the house and the collections to a non-profit organization set up to manage the museum: The museum is open only a few days a week and only in the afternoons til 6 P.M., so you have to plan well to see it, but it's worth it, too. (Thank you, too, to the volunteer, who gave me permission to take photographs...I hope lots of people see this post, and go!) The collection--as you can see in this photo--starts with mostly Chinese examples of porcelain, since the secret of its making eluded Europeans for quite some time: kaolin, a fine white clay (

Once the secret was uncovered--first in Meissen, I think--the hunt was on for kaolin in Europe...turns out that there were sources, but never of the high quality found in China. On the other hand, the European places and workshops and styles--some influenced by Chinese products, then gradually exploring the medium in styles more European in nature, while continuing to flirt with the oriental style--are so varied and so many that I'm not going to bore you with a detailed'll just have to go for yourself.

Some really gorgeous pieces, but can't move on to the next museum without sharing my all-time favorite in the museum...of a pug, of course!

Last on the list only because the hours on the website said it stayed open til 7 P.M. was the local technology museum located in some ex-train station works buildings (M.I.L.S.-Museo delle Industrie e del Lavoro Saronnese, via Don Griffanti, 6, also on the "right" side of the train tracks, and about a 10-15 minute walk in the opposite direction from the Gianetti, Sounds dull? I don't think it would have been shaped and shapes and will shape our lives, and really can be fascinating...but "would have been"...there's your clue. I had checked the web site beforehand, and it said that it was closed in August. The 30th, albeit the last Saturday in the month, still was in July. Didn't even think to call ahead. SURELY they'd post on their web site if they were going to close early. Ha! I fell for it. Walking along the graffiti-covered wall (in theme, though, so it may have been encouraged by the museum), the area looked suspiciously inactive. On the door, a plastic sheet protector with their closing days (from the 30th of July to....), already peeling off of the door, and flapping in the breeze. I'm lucky it was there at all. And so I will have to go back when it reopens in the fall...after all, I still have to try out the brewery....

My dear husband used to say to me, using this very typical Italian phrase, "Well, you wanted to be an Italian, you wanted a bicycle, now pedal!" (For my ESL students, do you remember what the English version is? ... "You made your bed, now lie in it!")

Heaven (shade) and torrid hell (direct sun) in Saronno, HOT and only semi-productive, but happy, that was my day, and I'm looking forward to going back.

(And remember: I don't get any kick back of any kind for mentioning these places, and all the photos are mine, and are for your personal, non-commercial enjoyment.)

(Now the delayed posting experiment begins...hope to see this post pop up on Sunday, the 31st of July, 2011.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Photoless Friday (22): a few more fun things to do in Milan (including golf and tennis!)

Let's start today's "Photoless Friday" with a fun thing to do in Milan that is about to close, shall we?...More......

... (N.B., for my ESL students, that's just aboout the only time you'll hear an American speaker of English use the word "shall," which is vedddddddddy Britishhhhh.)

Looking for something to do in Milan, as parts of the city settle down for a month-long summertime siesta?

Run to the Duomo! Tomorrow, the 30th of July, is the last day of special organized guided tours (in English, or Italian), which include the cathedral, itself, the underlying remains of the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Duomo's treasury (small, but some gorgeous and historic stuff), and access--via elevator for most of the way, thank you--to the Duomo's terrace. Today and tomorrow should be lovely, with a few puffy clouds (if the weather man has hit it on the nose), so this is a good opportunity. E.20 (gulp..., but you do get a lot of bang for your buck)'s the interesting bit: online payment only ( how do they expect tourists to do that? Just in case, in the block of buildings behind the Duomo, with your back to the apse of the Duomo, just under the portico on the right hand side is the tourist office for the Duomo...try asking and paying there. Ya' never know.

Before we get to more fun stuff, a practical hint. Yes, Italian phone numbers are not consistently constituted of seven the first place, the earliest phone numbers had only a few numbers, say four, because so few people had phones; when more people got phones, what to do?, they just added numbers...makes sense to me...then, a few years ago, it became obbligatory, even within the same town, to dial the city's dialing prefix, too, so just know that +39 is the country code and everything else after that has to be dialed, even if you're dialing from within the same city.

Now, back to the fun stuff!

Here's something I've been wanting to do, myself: take a boat trip along Milan's "Naviglio Grande" (Grand Canal...I have mentioned, before, that Milan once was criss-crossed by canals supplied with water from the nearby rivers, ancient highways...). These trips are available until the 18th of September, but don't keep putting it off, like I do each year, or the deadline will be upon you in a flash, and you'll have other plans that can't be delayed. Regular departure times, varying days, E.12. Contact the Navigli Lombardi, via Copernico, 42, tel. +

Golf fan? Happy to let your Significant Other patter about town, while you hit a few holes? Here are some of the many clubs located in and around Milan (golf club info taken from the June 2011 issue of Where Milan):

San Siro Golf: a new driving range located at the Ippodromo (horse-racing track...where the hypothetical reconstruction of Leonardo Da Vinci's horse is...remember?...I talked about that a few Photoless Fridays ago...) in Piazzale dello Sport, 12, tel. +39-02.4821.6293.

Castello di Tolcinasco Golf and Country Club: a 27-hole championship course located in Pieve Emanuele in the province of Milan. An exclusive golf club built around an old sixteenth century castle. tel. +39-02.9042.8035.

Golf Club Milano: here's a good one...a golf club called "Milan," but in the nearby city of Monza, a 27-hole course set within the Parco Reale (Royal Park). The facility was established in 1928, and is a CONI gold-star award winner for sporting achievements. tel. +39-

Golf Club Ambrosiano: an 18-hole course located in Bubbiano, also on the outskirts (or, as we say here with our Austrian background, the "hinterland") of Milan. This club is a "Kosaido European Tour" associate. tel. +39.02.9084.0820.

Golf Club Le Rovedine: an 18-hole course in Noverasco di Opera (also in the hinterland of Milan), tel. +39.02.5760.6420.

Molinetto Country Club: an 18-hole course in Cernusco sul Naviglio (also in the hinterland of Milan). On-site facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant and 14 (!) tennis courts, tel. +39.02.9210.5128.

Golf Crema Resort: a 27-hole course located in the (relatively) nearby city of Crema. A jewel of the lower Po river valley, Crema also has lots of historic art and architecture to offer, tel. +39.0373.23.13.57.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Yeah! The worst is over (...for now...I'm such an optimist...)

Whew! That was quite a long and intensive stretch of nonstop work.

I'm exhausted. Sent the draft of the translation to the author in the wee hours of the morning. She has to fill in some missing footnote citations, look it over, see if she has any questions, and then the final touches can be done.

In the meantime, here's...More...... architectural detail snapped at almost 4 P.M. on the 25th of April, 2011, on via Pagano for your personal, non-commercial enjoyment.

Very simple, Neo-Classical, but very balanced. Almost like a mantlepiece over a fireplace, it's a nice touch over a street level window to basement quarters.

Milan is a beautiful city, even in the details. Yes, it's got problems like any large metropolis. Yes, it's not Florence, or Rome, or Venice, but no other city is like these, so why does Milan have to be, in order to be beautiful?!

Milan has it's own kind of beauty: snippets of its ancient Roman past sprinkled like a bit of fresh rosemary, snippets of its ancient medieval past added like a hint of garlic, chunks of its Renaissance past like diced carrots (I love carrots!), while Baroque, Neo-Classical, Eclectic, Liberty, Novecento and modern elements liberally blend into a marvelous and varied hearty soup.

And there's always so much going on, I hardly know where to start telling you about it. Aside from the museum scene, more interesting to me, there are contemporary art galleries, music concerts from Gregorian chant to hard rock and anywhere inbetween, summertime fun, plays, activities for kids, and...yummy (really yummy) food (and ice cream).

All in a very do-able area: the historic downtown area inside and just barely outside the traces of the mid-sixteenth century (Spanish) walls, which, with the ancient Roman and medieval walls, have left their mark on the current urban state of the city. (The city even used to be criss-crossed by canals... sniff sniff... I wish they'd bring them back!)

From one side of the first circle of ancient Roman walls to the other (remember, Milan is structured like a wheel within a wheel), you can walk more or less briskly in about 35 minutes. Double that plus a smidgeon for the Spanish walls.

Furthermore, then public transportation is easy to use and handy.

And we're having marvelous weather (don't look now, but alternating waves of heat and rain are on the doorstep, though), so...

...what are you waiting for?

Come to Milan!

If this architectural fragment looks like just the frame for a needlepoint, or cross-stitch, that you're designing, it inspired today's "Milan Monday" on my needlepoint blog, Ars acupicturae stellae - Star's Needlepoint Art:


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Still glorious weather in Milan...

...still chained to my desk, working.... (sigh)

(see the last Wordless is marvelously more o' the same)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Photoless Friday (21): We've done "Milano Mese," now it's the turn of "Where Milan"

Man, the work load ain't lettin''s gettin' I'll have to be brief, but missed chatting with you, so here's another heads up for how to find fun stuff to do in Milan: "Where Milan"...More......

Whereas "Milano Mese," the pocket-sized font of the info of my recent posts on what to do in town, is more oriented to cultural activities of all sorts, for the locals and for visitors, "Where Milan" is magazine-sized, and is oriented more to visitors.

How is it possible to tell?

"Milano Mese" is set up by theme, yes, but also by closing dates (like a calendar in prose), and has activities of all sorts: exhibit and gallery openings and closings (personally, I wish they wouldn't mix the notices for museums--where stuff isn't for sale--and galleries--where stuff is for's not good deontologically, and is confusing to boot), music for all tastes and hours of the day (or night), activities for kids, festivals of all kinds from folkloristic to you-name-it.

In addition to the above kinds of entertainment, "Where Milan" ( also gives hints about (citing from their index): shopping, dining and essentials.

There's your clue: someone, who lives in Milan, may enjoy hunting up new places to eat and shop, but doesn't need a monthly reference guide for it. In addition, the layout is more...magazine-y, more eye-catching, and has short articles (or, at least article-y introductions to their info structured as little paragraphs, not name-date-place-cost lists). It helps being in a bigger format.

The July 2011 issue, for example, has bits on luxury shopping (the little maps to the Montenapoleone area have our museum, the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum--via Gesù 5--on it, yeah!!!) and...yumm!...gelato in Milan. At the back of the magazine is a map of the metro lines and a pretty darn detailed map of the heart of downtown (again, with our museum on it, yeah!!!).

Both "Milano Mese" and "Where Milan" are free and available in various obvious places around time (example: bookstores, hotel lobbies, the city's official info offices, museum lobbies, etc.).

Now, folks, as much as I love chatting with you, it's back to work for me! Have a good weekend! (But bring your umbrella...I saw the weather is GORGEOUS, but the clouds...and some cool air, Thank the blowing in, just in time for the weekend, and should last 'til Monday, oh lucky us!, but after this recent spate of torrid heat and humidity, believe me, I'm not complaining about the rain!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summertime fun at the Idroscalo, Milan's large artifical lake

People who do my kind of work (including translations and text revisions) get the worst loads dumped on them at this time of year (and just before Xmas) because everyone else is winding down for the summer.

Gotta run, but...More...

...didn't want to leave you without at least a quick hello to start out your work week, in honor of all the activities, including sandy fun, planned at Milan's artificial lake, the "Idroscalo" ("Water landing"), about which I wrote on Friday (among so many other things).

The "Idroscalo" got its name because it originally was intended for landing waterplanes: begun in 1928 in a giant hole in the ground (results of digging for gravel and sand) filled with water from an underground source (the outlet is a canale that dumps into the Lambro River), the first structures were built in 1935-36 by Gianluigi Giordani, enlarged in 1958-63 according to plans drawn up by Bittorio Gandolfi, and revised in the 1990s by Aldo Rossi.

Don't have any pictures of it, but if you'd like to needlepoint, or cross-stitch, something while you're enjoying the sun on its lawns and sandy beaches, here's something on my needlepoint blog, Ars acupicturae stellae - Star's Needlepoint blog:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Photoless Friday (20): What's on in Milan

Whoosh, it's already Photoless Friday, again!, and it's another good' un'! Loads of great summertime stuff to do, and a lot of it free, and some of it about to close, so hurry up...More......

Let's start off with the stuff about to expire, then I'll list the stuff stretching out over the whole summer in the next "What's on in Milan" messages can be dedicated only to the stuff getting ready to end (mostly art, just because that's what interests me the most).

Art your thing? Here are some of the things in Milan that look interesting to me (hence, you'll probably not find much--if anything at all--on modern/contemporary art), which are closing soon (remember that most museums are closed on Mondays):

Il teatro alla moda. Costume di scena. Grandi stilisti (Fashionable Theater. Event costumes. Great stylists). Closes: Sunday, 10 July. Palazzo Morando, via Sant'Andrea, 6. Tickets E. 8. Hours 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. For info: tel. +39.02.8846.5933,

L'anima di gomma (Rubber spirit)...should be about the nexus of aesthetic, technical aspects and fashion. Closes: 24 July. Triennale di Milano, viale Emilio Alemagna, 6. 10:30 A.M.-8:30 P.M. (Thursday/Friday until 11 P.M.) No entrance fee info listed, but could be a typo. For further information: +39.02.724.341.

Espressioni di Gio Ponti (Expressions of Gio Ponti). Closes: 24 July. Triennale di Milano, viale Emilio Alemagna, 6. 10:30 A.M. - 8:30 P.M. (Thursdays/Fridays until 11 P.M.). Entrance fee: E. 8. Thursday and Friday, from 7 P.M., entrance fee is E. 13, and includes Happy Hour at the Design Cafè. For information: +39.02.724.341.

Man Ray. Femmes e mode au Congo (Man Ray. Women and fashion in the Congo) [photographs]. Studio Marconi '65, via Tadino, 17. Closes 29 July. Hours: 10:30 A.M.-12:30 A.M., 3:30 P.M.-7 P.M. Free entrance. Closed Saturday and Sunday. For information: +

The Fifty Faces of Juliet [50 Man Ray photographs]. Closes 29 July. Fondazione Marconi, via Tadino, 15. 10:30 A.M.-12:30 A.M., 3:30 P.M.-7 P.M. Free entrance. Closed Saturday and Sunday. For information: +

Gio Ponti. Il fascino della ceramica (Gio Ponti. The allure of ceramics). Closes 31 July. Grattaceilo Pirelli, piazza Duca d'Aosta, 1. Hours: 3 P.M.-7 P.M. (Saturdays and Sundays: 10 A.M. - 7 P.M.). Entrance: free. For further information: +39-0541-787.681.

A Tribute to Photography. Primo Marella Gallery, 2. Viale Stelvio, 66. Closes: 31 July. No hours or entrance fee listed, but since it's a gallery, they might be expecting people to buy the works exhibited: forewarned is forearmed. For information. +39.02.8738.4885.

Like sports? On the Naviglio Grande (Grand Canal) there will be the Stranavigli on the 16th of July from 11 A.M. til 8 P.M. Described as a "creative water competition," it's a light-hearted competition dedicated to interesting kids in water sports and cementing good relationships between the various associations involved. Free admission, but signing up to the event is requested. For further info: +,

Bike? In bici alla scoperta di Milano (Discovering Milan while riding bikes) proposes a "Milan: True and False" itinerary, departing from the Palazzo Reale, Piazza Duomo, 12 (no time given). Fee: E.1. For more info:

The World Championship of Wakeboard at Milan's artifical lake (which, itself, deserves a separate post) is coming up, rapidly. Though the Idroscalo is out of town, it's easy to get to (take the "73/" bus from Corso Europa, and get off the "tribune" entrance). Dates: July 12-17, 2011. Check out the official webside of the wakeboarding: the Idroscalo will host activities for different interests: public art garden, children's activities, music...

...for example, like to wallow in the Blues? (no pun intended, but it's a pretty good one) From the 20th to the 21st of July starting at 9:30 P.M. at the "Idroscalo," there will be Blues in Idro, jazz concerts free-of-charge once inside the Idroscalo area (thought I think you have to pay to get into the Idroscalo).

For more info about all the activities at the Idroscalo, see:

Music fan and can't get enough of jazz? International musicians play at the Milan Jazzin' Festival from the first of July (ahem) to the 6th of August at the Arena Civica Gianni Brera, viale G. Byron, 2. Entrance fee: (looks like it varies event to event). Begins at 9 P.M. For more information:

[Would someone please bring Mose Allison to Milan???!!!]

Prefer classical music? The Milano Arte Musica: international festival of antique music has reached its fifth edition. It starts on the 20th of July, and ends on the 29th of August. Events begin at 8:30 P.M. and take place in different venues. Tickets are E. 10, on sale at the door at least 40 minutes prior to each concert; they may also be reserved: For more program information:, or call +39-02-7631.7176.

Prefer galavanting around after work? There also are Discovering Milan visits to the Last Supper and Santa Maria delle Grazie, to the Duomo and to the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio planned for the evenings, beginning at 7:30 P.M. or at 8:00 P.M. (please gather at least 15 mintues prior to departure time). Tickets cost E. 13, and prepayment and reservations are obbligatory. For information, tickets and reservations: Ad Artem, +39.02.659.7728.

Rather follow literature, cinema, science, arte, philosophy games...(together with art and philosophy, go figure)? From the end of June (ahem) to the 12th of July, the "Lies and Truths" series of La Milanesiana 2011 is for you. Entrance is free, but only with reservations: +39.02.8738.7707,,

Want to get a bird's eye view of Milan?

There are two ways to do it: (1) from the terrace of the Duomo (up til the 24th of October, from 9 A.M. til 9 P.M. with elevator...which still leaves you with a flight of stairs, but only until 5:15 P.M. if you want to take the stairs all the way...are you nuts?!, E.5-8; for more info:; or (2) the Torre Branca (Branca Tower, til the 15th of October, via Camoens, Parco Sempione, hours are screwy, better check the web site:, check it for the fee, too). Actually, come to think of it, there's a third way, too: I think the caffè at the top of the Pirelli tower (that tall white polygonal tower just in front of the Central train station) is open...that tower houses regional offices.

Notti magiche al Castello. Sotterranei serali (Magic nights at the castle. Nighttime visits to the underground tunnels). Possibile until the 15th of october. Fee: E. 10. Screwy hours here, too, but reservations are obbligatory, so call Ad Artem, +39.02.659.6937.

Naviga lungo i navigli di Leonardo (Navigate along the canals of Leonardo da Vinci). Navigli lombardi, via Copernico, 42. Fee: E. 12. Departure times: 10.15 A.M., 11.20 A.M., 12.25 A.M., 3 P.M., 4:05 P.M., 5:10 P.M., 6:15 P.M. For more info, check the site, or call:, Autostradale: +39.02.339.10.794.

Feel like helping Italy celebrate its 150th anniversary? There's a concert (music written by Padre Davide da Bergamo) in honor of the Unification of Italy at the Duomo of Milan, in the piazza, starting at 7 P.M. on the 15th of July.

Wondering about that padre? How about some Giuseppe Verdi to honor the Unification, instead? I Lombardi alla prima crociata (The Lombards during the First Crusade) will be played on the "Salita alle Terrazze," piazza Duomo, also at 7 P.M. (Repeat performance: 18th of July at 9:30 P.M.) For more information about both of these two:

Stop! Stop! Stop! There's so much more music, in the churches and in various venues. Guess who's coming to town? ... Lou Reed, Afterhours, Chicago, George Benson, Take That, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, the Buena Vista Social Club, Duran Duran...all--except Take That (who'll play at the San Siro stadium, via dei Piccolomini, 5, fees: from E.36,80-92, 3:30 P.M., no telephone or web site given, so you'll have to hunt it up, yourself)--are at the Arena Civica (Civic Arena), viale G. Byron, 2, fees vary, for more information:

Want to combine music and art? At the Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Milano-GAM (Modern Art Gallery), via Palestro, 16, at 9:30 P.M. on the 22nd of July there will be the music of Verdi, Rossini and Bellini: Il canto degli italiani. Notturni in villa. Omaggio all'Italia (The Song of the Italians. Nighttime in the villa. Homage to Italy). Free admission. For more information: tel. +39.02.8912.2383, or

Outdoor cinema, anyone? The annual summertime Arianto series has begun. Three venues, all starting at 9 P.M., fee: E. 6,50. For more information: tel. +39.02.659.7732, (A WORD TO THE WISE: come slathered with anti-mosquito stuff.)

Craft and flea markets your thing? For starters, there's the Senigallia in the Porta Genova and surrounding areas every Saturday of July from 8 A.M. to 6 P.M.

Along the Martesana canal (Naviglio) there's another open-air vintage and craft market every first and third Sunday of the month. The next appointment in July is for the 17th, from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. For info:

Thursdays in the area of Porta Genova there is the Ambrosiani antique and flea market from 7 A.M. to 3 P.M., for info call: 331.586.8336.

On the 17th of July, from 9 A.M. til 6 P.M., in via Fiori Chiari, via Madonnina, via Formentini there will be the Brera antique market, which takes place every third Sunday of the month. No further information given.

What, finally, to do with the kids?????

Here are a few good suggestions to finish off this list:

Pecci Playart&Drink: park the kids in workshops dedicated to music, while you treat yourself to an aperitif at the open bar, free for the kids...they don't say about the drinks! The hours are from 5:30 P.M. til 7 P.M. The days seem to be only every Monday til Monday the 25th of July. Museo Pecci Milano, Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 113. For more info: 0574.531.820.

Sforzinda, Sforza Castle, Piazza Castello. Games and activities to acquaint the families and kids (and not just the Milanese) with the castle. Closed Monday morning. Fee: E.1 per child; 6 activity booklet for E.5. Reservations are obbligatory: tel. +39.02.8846.3792,

Triennale Museum Kids, Triennale di Milano, viale Emilio Alemagna, 6. Workshops with special itineraries for kids through the museum's collections. Closed Mondays, the other days (though the info is a bit confused), it looks like the hours are from 10:30 A.M. to 11 P.M. Fee: E. 8. To check information: tel. +39.02.7243.4305,

MuseoEstate 2011, Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, via San Vittore, 21. Workshops, activities and guided tours for the whole family pretty much from 10 A.M. til 5 P.M. everyday esxcept Monday (some days even until 7 P.M.). Fee: E. 10. For more info: +

And this is just a taste of what Milan has to offer, as listed in the Milanomese, see also

Whew! Typing all this took me so long, it's not Friday here, anymore, it's already after midnight, but I hope you'll forgive me, and...


Friday, July 1, 2011

Photoless Friday (19): sensorial delights for a Friday afternoon

At a loss for something to do with such a gorgeous Friday afternoon, as today promises?

Have I got some powerhouse suggestions for you for some wonderful gems known well, perhaps, only by a discerning few!...More......

Via Bagutta.

A little strip passing obliquely from Piazza San Babila towards via Manzoni...where it never arrives. It stops, instead, on via S. Andrea, home of the marvelous Civic Museum of Milan offering even centuries old painted views of the picturesque Milan of canals that is no more. The museum deserves its own post...that'll be for another day.

Today, we're first headed somewhere else that had piqued my interest each time I passed it, too much in a rush to get to work on time to even look properly in the windows.

Finally en route with a little bit of time to spare, I slipped into via Bagutta to walk calmly, not squashed by the crush of locals and tourists, at least in that short stretch parallelling the beginning both of Corso Matteotti (originally Corso del Littorale) and the famous via Montenapoleone...which is not just important for the high fashion readymade wear shops that have gobbled up the street. "Montenapo," as we locals call it, also deserves a post all its own...another day.

As I leisurely stepped along the paving stones, I felt a bubbling idea..."Wasn't there a...?," and, as soon as the idea jumped full-formed out of my head like Athena from the skull of Zeus, I was already at this place promising wonders: L'Artisan Parfumeur, via Bagutta, 8.

"Nomen omen" ('the name is a prediction'), I bet myself.

"Oh how marvelous, I wonder just how costly their tailor-made perfumes are? If you have to ask, you can't afford it. Oh, what the heck, I've got time, I've always wanted to stop in, and so just go for it."

Very glad I did.

First off, I learned that they don't do "tailor-made" perfumes, but their chain did start with a master perfume craftsman (setting up his own shop in the years after WWII, as I recall!), so the "artisan" part of the title still is apt and well-deserved.

And guess what?

The clerk was friendly (surprise of all an Italian boutique of any type?! I'd go back just for that!) and helpful. He asked my scent preferences, then offered spritzes of them in little specially made paper cones set onto plexiglass stems so that--how fun!--to sniff them was like sipping champagne. (Very smart marketing tool, that.)

The two responding to my preferences are heavenly, the third, the first perfume created, is very nice, too, a bit like fresh clean delicate soap.

The shop is so chic, the experience, too, all so lovely, I almost didn't ask, but got up my courage for you. And you know what?

Their perfumes are only a tad more expensive than the other important large chain well known ones, so they're not out of reach, and would make a very neat treat for oneself, or an impressive gift for a female significant other (I forgot to ask if they have perfumes for men, too...stop in, ask, and let me know).

Very very much worth it.

Well, that was so satisfying, what could I possibly do, next, to top that?

"Top" is a bit strong, but there still are some fun things to come that at least equal it.

Just a few steps ahead, and if you plan right, you'll be able to have lunch at "Bagutta," one of Milan's famous culinary traditions: via Bagutta, 14. Very pleasant, very tasty, very authentic Milanese experience.

When you've finished eating and leave the restaurant, continue in the same general direction, and you'll get to another wonder: ladies' shoes so gorgeous, so expressive of fanciful yet good taste, consequently so hard on the budget, but so easy on the eyes.

Rene Caovilla di Venezia.

Couldn't see a street number, but you can't miss it at (or almost at) the corner of via Bagutta and via S. Andrea.

So, we've treated your eyes, mouth and nose to a little bit of heaven. What could possibly be left?

An excellent coffee (with, perhaps, a dessert...why not, just think of all the walking you've been doing) in yet another Milanese tradition, then stimuli for the eyes and mind.

COVA - Pasticceria-Confetteria (cake and sweets shop), founded in 1817 (that's just a couple of years after Waterloo, remember? What courage the founder of Cova must have had), via Montenapoleone, 8, at the corner of via S. Andrea, near to where via Bagutta deadends (did I forget to tell you to turn to the left onto via S. Andrea out of via Bagutta?).

After coffee, how can I resist?, why not continue a few more meters/yards on Montenapo, turn right onto via Gesù, and treat your eyes and mind to a visit of the museum where I work, the marvelous Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, one of Europe's most important and best preserved historic house museums (which is just a fancy way to say that it's a "time capsule" of the late 19th century, with the Italian Renaissance art and decorative arts collections not only intact, but--importantly--displayed as the brothers and collectors wanted them to be, so it's also a great place just to be nosy about how a newly aristocratic Milanese family lived then

If, after seeing the museum, you want to head back down Montenapo to the San Babila stop of the red line, I'll say goodbye to you, now.

If you want to keep going down Montenapo in the direction of via Manzoni (this time, we'll get there), I have just one more thing to say: outlet big name brand shopping in a shop about two shops shy of via Manzoni. The percentages off sound pretty good...until you look at the starting price. Frankly, the prices still are ridiculously obscene for most of the stuff, whether of important fabrics and complex construction, or a simple light cotton with a bat wing sleeve (no tailoring there, just a couple of straight quick seams, and it's done). If you absolutely HAVE to have something from one of the big names, though, you'd might as well start here.

It's time for a quick pre-close reminder: I get no kickbacks, or perks, of any kind for mentioning any of these places.

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