Friday, September 30, 2011

Photoless Friday (30): The Milky Way... in Lombardy

To bring the park on the south of Milan to the attention not just of tourists, but also of the Milanese, the 1st and 2nd of October there are activities called "The Milky Way" (Via Lattea) planned in the center of town and in the park, itself...More......

The park must be lovely... ahem... I haven't been, yet... and I actually would love to see the cows (mooo!)... there is a working farm!

That sounds like two fun-filled days for the family.

Saturday, October 1 in Piazza Mercanti in downtown Milan, Sunday, October 2 in the park (from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.)... don't miss it!

Want more info?

Go to the website of F.A.I.-Fondo Ambiente Italiano:

(Bless them...there's an English language button in the upper right corner of their web site... but it doesn't work.)

Don't want to load down this message, so let me just say that there are lots of other great things closing this weekend. Check out the official web site of the Province of Milan,, the basis for the free and handy "MilanoMese" guide about which we've spoken before.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lovely courtyards in Milan

Milan is like a very reticent, beautiful, stately and mature woman.

The outside may be discreet, but the inside, oh so lovely...More......

Once a year, FAI-Fondo Ambiente Italiano asks private and public entities and people to open up their historic structures and gardens that usually are closed to the public. In addition, they also open their own structures, generally open to the public.

It's a way to highlight the wondrous cultural and artistic patrimony of Italy, and to call attention to the desperate need to maintain and preserve it: FAI's reason for existence.

So, look up the FAI web site, and, if you love Italian culture, sign up. The basic monthly membership doesn't cost much, and--especially if you're in Italy--has good benefits: free entrance to their properties, the fast entrance lane during those hectic show-and-tell days, and discounts on other non-FAI museum and cultural activities.

I snapped this sunny courtyard in the Brera area of Milan during FAI's May 2005 open days.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Another post in honor of Women's Fashion Week in Milan: a 1930s mosaic

This lovely lady decorates the exterior of a building in Porta Volta, by now on the edge of Chinatown in Milan.

I snapped this photo with you in mind on the 11th of September, 2010, at about 2:45 P.M.

If you're interested in my (freely shared) needlepoint/cross-stitch diagram of this image, go to my blog on hand done needlepoint, Ars acupicturae stellae - Star's Needlepoint Art,


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Walk a mile in my shoes...

...before you criticize and accuse....

In honor of Milan's fashion week, I thought I'd recount that I used to follow The Sartorialist for awhile.

It's a marvie blog for following the latest fashion trends. The author takes (great) snaps......More......

... of people on the streets of the most fashionable towns in the world, including Milan.

He hasn't snapped a picture of my shoes, yet, so I did it for you.

Not that they're so fashionable. But without them, and another similar pair or two, I wouldn't be able to walk more than a few steps.

Put me in a taxi, get me close to the door, and in fancy shoes I can hobble to the restaurant table, or I can choose to walk...and get stuck with the likes of these.

And that's why I stopped reading that fashion blog.

Cranky snitty comments (I made a couple, myself, not all of them got past the blog author's censorshhip) without any regard for reality.

And I'm not just talkin' the "Oh, look, the emperor's new clothes!" kind of being out of touch...though there's a heck of a lot of that, too. (Maybe I'm the one out of touch....)

I'm talking the complete lack of understanding that those hideous (insert name of article of clothing, here) may be the only thing that person is able to wear in order to function.

And so I stopped following the blog.

The fact that my Mrs. Dudley DoRight comments often didn't make the grade has a lot nothing to do with it.

You give the blog a whirl, though...Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Photoless Friday (29): Eavesdropping and carspotting

Overheard (in Italian) on a train, yesterday:

She: "Hi, sweetheart, the train is just getting into the station."

He: "......."

She: "O.K., so you're at the front of the station."

He: "......."

She: "Which car do you have?"

He: "......."

She: "Uh, yeah...what color is it?"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Have buckets, will travel: one version of the Sforza family crest

Talk about a bit of self-propaganda, but that's what family crest are for, right? This one is packed choc-a-bloc with meaning. Where to begin?...More......

Might as well start with the Who dunnit?: Bona of Savoy and her young son, Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza, at least according to the underlying inscription.

When? The date on the underlying inscription says the 6th Calends of January.... Huh? According to Cappelli's chronology, that means the 27th of January. And the year? MCCCCLXXVII. Huh, again? Roman numbers for 1477 A.D. (A fortified tower built in about a month? Hmmm, that sounds pretty suspect to me...maybe the inscription was made later and given that date for another reason; the Touring Club guide says that--due to the political turmoil--the decoration of the tower languished for a few years...I'd bet until around 1493...keep on reading....)

Where? On the aptly named "Tower of Bona" over the entryway to the secluded area, called "The Little Fortress" ("La Rochetta") of the Sforza Castle. She had the tower built to protect her...duchess...inside an inner part of the castle with her toddling son, the legitimate heir. A fortress within a fortress. Ludovico, her now all powerful brother-in-law, and his court lived in the adjoining palatial part of the castle, and Ludovico kept saying how much better it would be for little Gian Galeazzo Maria to be under HIS regency, instead of hers....

Why? Bona--widowed by the assassination of her husband, Galeazzo Maria, stabbed on the doorsteps of the church of St. Steven on St. Steven's Day (26 December 1476)...because he was too vain to wear the protective mail coat under his beautiful new green silk jacked embroidered with gold...thought it made him look, I'm not kidding...ya' gotta love the guy--was having to fend off power grabs by her dead husband's brothers, one of whom eventually won out: Ludovico il Moro (Ludovico the Moor, because he had dark dark hair).

And, finally, the What? The monstrous serpent swallowing up a poor soul (or the monstrous fish disgorging Jonah...the symbol, by now, was centuries old, and the origins lost; it reputedly dated back to the conquest of a Saracen shield by one of the Visconti ancestors during a Crusade) is from the Visconti crest. The eagle is a symbol of the dukedom, granted to Francesco Sforza--the powerful general-for-hire, who married Bianca Maria Visconti, the bastard-but-legitimized daughter of the last legitimate Visconti duke of Milan, Filippo Maria; the marriage gave Francesco no official claim to command, but was a pretty good pscyhological lever...added to his troops surrounding the city in 1450--by the other rulers in Italy as part of the great peace treaty of Lodi (1454), but which had to wait until the machinations of Francesco's and Bianca Maria's middle son, Ludovico il Moro, to become an imperial reality in 1493 (Ludovico forked over big bucks to the then reigning Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III, but had to keep the official recognition of his claim to the title of duke secret because the son of his assassinated brother was still alive...for about a year...until he died mysteriously on the 20th of October, 1494...). The buckets are for the ability to put out the fires of emergencies, while the burning clubs threaten to create just such emergencies and to raise a good welt, or two, in the process. (Not quite the "Speak softly, and carry a big stick" of Teddy Roosevelt, but along similar lines.) Above, the ducal crown flanked by the dates and palm branch of victory on your upper right and, just in case you didn't get it, the laurel branch of victory on your upper left.

I turned the photo into a diagram for needlepoint, or cross-stitch, should you be so handy. See my blog on hand-done needlepoint, Ars acupicturae stellae - Star's Needlepoint Art:

I took this photo with you in mind on Ferragosto, the 15th of August, at about 1:15 P.M.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Photoless Friday (28): Wines in Lombardy and an upcoming wine festival!

Lombardy isn't known for its wines, but it has quite a few respectable ones, including spumante (since we can't call it "champagne," anymore) from the Franciacorta area, which straddles Lombardy and the Veneto...More......

Why can't we call it "champagne," anymore? Because "Champagne" is the name of a region in France, from which this kind of sparkling white wine took its name, but now European Union rules say that only sparkling white wines from that regione can be called that. (The same thing happened to the Italian "Tocai"--now called "Friuliano," after the northeastern region of Italy in which it is principally produced--a name considered by the European Union as too similar to the Hungarian "Tocaj.")

Let's get to the point: the 25th of September there will be the Festival of the Grape in the only DOC area in the Province of Milan (the governmental organization between the levels of city and region...think of it as "county"), San Colombano near the Lambro river, in the "oltrepo pavese" region (that is, the area near to Pavia on the other side of the Po River). The hills of Miradolo Terme and Graffignana are involved, and the event is held--for the 54th time--by the San Colombano DOC Wine Association. For more information:, tel. +39.0371.89.88.30.

Piqued your interest in Lombard wines? Here are a few websites in Italy (YOU can look up "wines in Lombardy" easily for yourself!), which seemed reliable:

VINOSTORE.IT (yes, it's trying to sell you the wines, but the list looks helpful):

Google maps for "vino in lombardia" (wine in Lombardy) turns up this handy map of some of the vintners in the area:

Lombard wines and the "VinItaly 2011" convention:

A pdf publication dated 2009, and which appears to have the official approval--to be taken with a grain of salt--of the Region of Lombardy, about Lombard wines:

The wine roads in Lombardy (principally Bergamo, Brescia, Lodi, Mantova, Pavia, Sondrio):

Though the sources are in Italian, if you're a wine buff you'll recognize terms. Even if you're not, hopefully it should be pretty obvious when they're talking about a wine, or a city: at least you'll get the names that you then can look up in English, yourself.

Running...unfortunately, not towards a glass of the moment!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Free Italia Wi-Fi": a newly launched project...and grieving together for what we lost ten years ago, today, in New York City

On Friday, the 9th of September, 2011, the "Free Italia Wi-Fi" project--aiming to offer free Wi-Fi throughout Italy, thanks to the collaboration of local levels of government--was launched.

For the moment, few communities are involved, but yours just might be one of them.

Since the project's goal is to get more ITALIANS to use the internet (according to the article on p. 27 of Saturday's paper, "Repubblica," only about 50% of us do), the site is just in least for now, but the address and password columns should be pretty obvious:

I'd be worried about protecting my computer from intrusions, but you can decide for yourself...on this momentous day, the 11th of September, 2011.

Story Corps aims to record a story, and make a respectful animated short out of it, for each of the lives lost on this day, ten years ago:

Let's remember and grieve together for all that we have lost.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Info for emergencies in Milan (and not only Milan), crossing our fingers that you won't need it

City police ("vigili"; number valid only for Milan): 02.77271
Carabinieri (national police; number valid nationally): 112
Ambulance (number valid nationally): 118
Pharmacies open (number valid nationally): 800.80.11.85
24-hour Pharmacy (Central train station, Milan only):

And before you leave home, be sure you get and take with you the information for your country's consulates and embassies located wherever you intend to go.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Photoless Friday (27): hurry, hurry, hurry, the nice weather is drawing to a close

Torrid heat and high humidity aside, the nice weather of summer is drawing to a close, so here's a list of things To Do before the winter chill (and high humidity) rusts our bones....More......

Biking along the "Naviglio Pavese"
The Naviglio Pavese, the canal that goes from Milan to Pavia, was a source of water for the grounds of the castle of Pavia, where some of the Milanese lords preferred to live. A bike path, complete with iron railings for safety, has been completed, and can be ridden for about 24 kilometers. (P.S., the castle in Pavia still exists, is easy to get to on foot from the train station for normally healthy people, and has interesting exhibits. The city is lovely, and has lots to offer for a day trip.)

Sporty types in for a museum visit might enjoy "Women and Sport, 1861-2011" at the Museo del Risorgimento, via Borgonuovo, 23, open til the 25th of September.

Visits to the crenellated soldiers walk along the upper rim of the Sforza castle continue until the 15th of October. For (obligatory) reservations (Ad Artem): +39.02.659.6937.

Like the castle? There also are evening visits to the underground tunnels, till the 15th of October. For (obligatory) reservations (Ad Artem): +39.02.659.6937.

For a panoramic view of Milan from the top of the "Torre Branca" in Parco Sempione, you'll have to go before the 15th of October, when the potential and unpredictable arrival of unpleasant weather makes it unfeasible. (Via Camoens)

Movie buff? Outdoor theater in three enchanting places around town: the courtyard of the world-famous music conservatory, the courtyard of the Humaniter Foundation, the public gardens now dedicated to the journalist Indro Montanelli. The series closes on the 12th of September, just around the corner, so call for info: +39.02.659.7732.

For art lovers, the exhibit "Hayez in the Milan of Manzoni and Verdi" at the Brera Pinacoteca is set to close on the 25th of this month. Yikes! I'd better go, soon, myself!

More for art lovers and lovers of Milanese history: "Memories of Milan" at the Fondazione Biblioteca di via Senato (surprise, surprise, at via Senato, n. 14) will be closing on the 23rd of October.

A good visit for the curious and for families: "Feeding the soul and spirit" lasts at the Archaeological Museum (Corso Magenta, 15) until the 31st of December. Don't miss going downstairs and into the back courtyard to see remains of the ancient Roman walls of the Republican and the Imperial periods, or going into the little attached church, San Maurizio, "carpeted" with Renaissance frescoes (the museum is in one of the ex-courtyards of the church).

Want something else to do with the kids? "Form and function in the world of mammals" at the Museo di Storia Naturale (Museum of Natural History), Corso Venezia 55, tel. +39.02.8846.3337 runs until the 2nd of October.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Just back to work...and already there's a public transportation strike (oh, yeah....)

Milan's city logo snapped on one of the 1927 yellow trams (all lovely wood inside). Those and all the other trams and busses and metro systems in Milan will shut least partially...tomorrow, Tuesday, 6 Sept., from 6 P.M. til what they call "the end of the day's service"...most public transport stops running shortly after midnight, with a few stop gaps running a bit longer into the weeeeeeee hours of the morning, when all service stops, strike, or no strike.

So, there you have it.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Despite the moment's humbug, I'm still going to turn this logo into a needlepoint diagram, and put it on my needlepoint blog (if I can get the new Blogger/Blogspot interface to work for that blog...have I mentioned, yet, that I hate the new interface????? You're bound to hear me say this, again, at least a time, or two):

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It was sooooooooo nice...

...that it's really really (really) hard to get back into the plow's yoke.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...