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.)

1 comment:

Star said...

Yeah! The delayed posting feature worked! Except for a few tweaks (for one...the "preview" feature while writing the post is not really WYSIWYG, hence the big gaps--sorry!--between the photos, to keep them from overlapping, and it would be great to be able to comment on comments), I do love blogger, and so thankful for their easy-to-use, attractive and FREE possibilities. Now, if they'd only name my (of course, very worthy) blogs in their "Blogs of Note" lists....

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