Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rainy Sunday

Weatherman had said clouds.

I took him at his word.

And got stuck out and about...More......

...without an umbrella.

Silly me.

(No complaining, though; the rain is light...have beret, will travel...and we need it badly.)

Doing a 'light painting' while snug, dry and warm on a tram headed for home on a chilly Sunday after a cozy morning at a local library with a nice friend...who even fixed me lunch!


Friday, January 27, 2012

To not forget: train track 21

Track 21, Central Train Station, Milan.

Chilly winter morning, January 30, 1944.

600 Italian Jewish men, women and children packed into train wagons.

Destination: Auschwitz....More......

There are so many sites and pages dedicated to the Holocaust (or denying the Holocaust), and it is not always easy to discern the underlying motives of the authors. I tried to find a widely respected, authoritative and disinterested source for basic information: the Britannica encyclopedia,

Reliable chronologies help to frame events in context.

Italy's racial laws were passed on the 5th of September 1938, but exportations took place only after the first fall and return to power, heavily assisted by (some say a puppet of) the Nazis, of Mussolini. The German occupation of Italy and the Republic of Salò dates to September 1943.

On January 30, 1944, six hundred Italian Jewish men, women and children were taken to track 21. They arrived in Auschwitz Birkenau on the 6th of February.

Within a few hours, 500 of them already were gassed and burned.

A memorial dedicated to the victims has been begun on track 21 (binario 21) in Milan's Stazione Centrale, though the progress creeps along as funding permits. The website dedicated to the project has a chronology of the events in Italian. [The single page in English has unforgivable errors...why, oh why, do companies and associations resist using capable native speaker translators? Translating a couple of pages, at least for an overview (which needs to be written with the foreign reader in mind, and not be "merely" a translation of the Italian text) will cost no more than about a hundred bucks. A word to the wise is sufficient.]

The panoramic chronology on "" tends to ignore Italy, but does present a German-centered framework: (As you can see for yourself on the page dedicated to the site's authors, the site was born out of the study of letters to and from an American airman flying missions over Germany. While it's true that the principal authors were closely related to the family in question, it's also true that they are historians with college degrees, and were assisted by another historian. Nevertheless, it's always good to keep your thinking cap on.)

Why this message on this site, and why today?

This site is dedicated to Milan, a city I love, and though I tend to present its positive aspects (there already are enough complainers around us and on the web), today is a day for remembering.

To not forget.

To not repeat.

Photoless Friday: Affordable Art Fair Milan, February 2-5

Intrigued by contemporary art, and have a secret desire hidden by a shy wallet to buy and collect?

Superstudio più's Affordable Art Fair Milan is for you...More......

Affordable Art Fair Milan, via Tortona 27, 2-5 February 2012

Thursday 2 February 11:00 A.M. - 6:00 P.M., Art&Flames Night Event 6 P.M. - 10 P.M.

Friday 3 February 11:30 A.M. - 8:30 P.M.

Saturday 4 February 11:30 A.M. - 8:30 P.M.

Sunday 5 February 11:00 A.M. - 6:00 P.M.

It promises a good selection of contemporary art pieces from E. 100 to E. 5000. (And since the pieces are contemporary and most probably by little, or lesser, known artists, the national cultural patrimony laws won't prohibit you taking whatever you buy out of the country...something always to keep in mind when shopping for art.)

But you have to fork over E. 13 just to get in.... (it seems ridiculous to me to pay for the privilege of giving someone more money....).

Nevertheless, it should be challenging and exciting to see what's bubbling in the newest of new art markets (as I presume there'll be lots of younger unestablished artists offering these affordable prices).

I'm still undecided (it ain't just the money...O.K., it is partly the's mostly a dig-in-my-heels disgust at having to pay in order to pay...), though I've been yearning to go (this surprised little miss non-contemporary-art me) ever since I saw the first ads.

If you go, let me know what you think. (They also hold these Affordable Art Fairs in London, Brussels, New York, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Singapore.)

In the meantime, it's a good place to remind you again (ad nauseam?) that I get no kickbacks of any kind--not even a stick of chewing gum!--for my reviews and comments.

Lifted directly from their web site is the following:

Via TORTONA, 27 - MILANO 20144
Tel. +39 02 422501 - Fax +39 02 475851

SUBWAY: Green line MM2 P.ta Genova or S.Agostino
BUS: Lines 47- 59 - 68 - 74 - 90/91
TRAM: Lines 14 - 29/30
LINATE AIRPORT: Bus 73 to S.Babila + Red line MM1 Cadorna + Green line MM2 P.ta Genova or S.Agostino
MALPENSA AIRPORT: Malpensa Express train to Cadorna + Green line MM2 P.ta Genova or S.Agostino

For more info (yeah!, they have pages in English), see:



Photoless Friday

Already Photoless Friday, again, whew!

Run, before it closes on Monday the 30th of this month, the photographic exhibit of the "manimals"...More......

...of Guido Daniele ("manimali" comes from the conjunction of "mani"/hands and "animali"/animals), the body painter who does the extraordinary animals painted on hands, or other kinds of body painting (for example, for the Mueller yoghurt commercial).

The exhibit is in the "Chiostro dei Glicini" (Wisteria Courtyard) of the Società Umanitaria nestled into the Renaissance ex-monastery of S. Maria della Pace on the corner of via Daverio and--where the current entrance is at n. 48--via S. Barnaba, behind the "Tribunale" (Milan's central courthouse).

The exhibit, open "every day" (though one has to be careful in Italy, this often means "except Sunday") from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M., has been mounted to bring to the attention of the public and Umanitaria's students (generally reasonable fees, folks!) the theatrical make-up course that will be offered there, and for which Guido Daniele has promised to teach.

For more information about the course:

Accademia Professionale di Trucco Artistico di Gabriella De Michele
tel. +39.02.579.68.379

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Upcoming strikes and traffic blocks

It’s prohibited to the driver to speak.

Liberalization may, or may not, be the right medicine for the Italian economy overall, but in addition to the recent taxi strike, other sectors also are striking in protest: trains, local transportation, planes, ferries, trucks, gas stations, pharmacies and lawyers.

Need the scoop in English?...More......

Thursday and Friday, February 26-27, 2012:

TRENORD: the train service in Lombardy principally in and out of the Cadorna station that includes the Malpensa Express light train to and from Malpensa Airport. For further information (probably only in Italian): 800-500-005 (toll-free from inside Italy).

--“RFI” network: strikes from 9 P.M. Thursday to 9 P.M. Friday. Certain principal trains guaranteed only on Friday from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M. and from 4:30 P.M. to 7 P.M.
--“FerrovieNord” network: strikes—INCLUDING THE MALPENSA EXPRESS in and out of the Stazione Centrale—from 9 P.M. Thursday to the end of service on Friday (midnight?!). Certain principal trains guaranteed on Friday from 6 A.M. to 9 A.M. and from 4:30 P.M. to 7 P.M.
--Some lines will be modified, rather than cancelled, on the 26th (in Italian):ì-26-gennaio-2012.pdf
--Some lines are guaranteed on the 27th (in Italian):

TRENITALIA: the governmental train service covering all of Italy. For further information (probably only in Italian): (if that doesn’t work, try it without the “02”), 199.892.021, (this latter only for disabled passengers). Some, or all, of these numbers may be fee-based.

--Strike from 9 P.M. on Thursday to 9 P.M. on Friday
--Their standard page about essential services in case of a strike (in English!):


ATM-Milan’s urban transportation system: strikes from 8:45 A.M. to 3 P.M., then again from 6 P.M. to the end of service (midnight?!).

SHIPS, FERRIES AND PLANES: Pilots, stewards, stewardesses and personnel of Alitalia-Cai and Meridiana Fly, as well as in the airports of Roma Fiumicino and Roma Ciampino. More precise information about ships and ferries was not specified.


TRAFFIC BLOCKS TO COMBAT POLLUTION. Beginning January 23, the situation is complicated by local traffic blocks due to high smog levels. For this, see the web pages (usually only in Italian, sigh) of each city involved. How to find the address? They usually follow this formula:, ex.:

Heading to Milan? Here are the cities in the “Hinterland” (Milan and surrounding small cities) involved: Abbiategrasso, Albairate, Assago, Baranzate, Bareggio, Bollate, Bresso, Carugate, Canegrate, Cassano d’Adda, Cernusco sul Naviglio, Cesano Boscone, Cesate, Cinisello Balsamo, Cologno Monzese, Colturano, Cornaredo, Corsico, Inzago, Lainate, Legnano, Locate di Triulzi, Magenta, Melegnano, Milano, Motta Visconti, Novate Milanese, Peschiera Borromeo, Pioltello, Robecco sul Naviglio, Rozzano, Segrate, Sesto San Giovanni, Settimo Milanese, Vanzaghello, Vimodrone and Vittuone.

TRUCKS transporting goods of all sorts – in progress, they generally park/go painfully slowly on important roads and highways essentially blocking traffic for everyone


PHARMACIES – February 1st

LAWYERS – February 23-24

GAS STATIONS – on and off, three days at a time, TBA

…in short, it’s a moment to thank the Cosmos that one didn’t give in to the temptation to move out of Milan, or at least to the far flung suburbs, to *try* to save on rent….

If you read Italian, and want to check the sources for yourselves for further info (downloaded Wednesday, January 24, 2012, facts not checked):,,,,

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"The fog comes on little cat feet..."

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

("Fog," Carl Sandburg, 1878-1967)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Taxis waiting next to the Cadorna station...yesterday

Taxis waiting at Cadorna's side exit, mid-morning yesterday.

Don't expect to see them waiting, today.

There's a national taxi strike, today, from 8 A.M. to 10 P.M....More......

Arriving in Milan's Linate Airport? Take the Linate Express, bus X73, E. 1.50, Monday-Friday, 7 A.M.-8 P.M. For the price of a regular bus ticket (E.1.50), in about a half an hour it goes nonstop to Piazza San Babila at the other end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele behind the Duomo. On normal (non-strike, non-trade fair) days, there are taxis at the stand, there, waiting to whisk you to your destination. The general area is well-served by bus, tram and metro.

Arriving at Milan's Malpensa Airport? Take the Malpensa Express: It's a fast and easy "trenino" (little/light train) that costs only E. 11 one way. Some are nonstop, some stop at a few places along the way. Some get into the Cadorna station (in the general area of the Sforza castle, so still quite central), some now get into the Stazione Centrale. At both, taxis usually are waiting just outside all exits...but not today. From either train station, bus, tram and metro transportation is easy to the rest of the city.

New to town, and worried that the tram, bus, metro (subway) and "passante" (urban light train) indications on your map may be old? Have an iPhone? Then you're in luck. There's an app for checking Milan's public transportation system, see my:

A word to the wise is matter how tired and frazzled you are, do not give in to the temptation to take a pirate taxi.

How do you know?

If someone comes up to you furtively, whispering "taxi, taxi," you can be sure it's a pirate taxi.

These are private individuals working under the table without licenses, without safety controls, without training and without insurance.

I think you get the picture.

Good luck!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ghosts of riders past, present and future

While I confer with my artist friend about which pictures I snapped in his studio yesterday to put on my blog, here's another of my metro snaps....More......

People in bright colors, especially red, are eye-catching, and while the (slow) mechanism of my digital camera was going off, someone in bright yellow walked past, leaving a ghostly trail, a superimposed soul.

I saw the person in yellow coming towards us out of the corner of my eye, and--now that I'm familiar with the rhythm of my camera--pressed just in time for the snap to be taken just as the person was example of my "light painting" techniques for your personal, non-commercial viewing.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Photoless Friday: what's on in Milan

What's on in Milan for today and the rest of the weekend?

"Hello Milan" is a good place to check...and it's in English!...More......

Here's a copy-and-paste from their website in English (yeah!):'sOn/WhatsOn.htm

20 January 2012, Friday

20.00: Ballet at La Scala. “Excelsior”. Music by Romualdo Marenco. Conductor David Coleman. Etoile Roberto Bolle. €19/138. Teatro alla Scala, Piazza della Scala • M1/3 Duomo

21.00: Ballet. “The Swan Lake,” music by Tchaikovsky, performed by the Russian National Ballet Theatre. €28/53. Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Viale dell’Innovazione 1 • M1 Precotto + tram 7; buses 86, 87

21.30: Silent film. “Faust” directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. With live piano accompaniment by Antonio Zambrini. €3.50/5.50 + annual membership card €3. Spazio Oberdan, Viale Vittorio Veneto 2 • M1 Porta Venezia

22.00: Latin jazz. Performed by the Trio Sdo’. Admission free. Drinks purchase required. Fermento Art&Pub, Via Camillo Ugoni 18 • bus 92, tram 2

22.00: Live jazz-pop. Performed by Roberto Cecchetto, guitar, and Cristiano Calcagnile, percussion and electronics. Admission free with 2012 annual membership card (€25), donations welcome. Arci, La Scighera, Via Candiani 131• Passante Bovisa, tram 3, buses 92 and 82

21 January 2012, Saturday

16.30: Organ concert. “Beate Martyr, prospera” performed by Giulio Mercati, organ: poetry reading by Sandro Boccardi. Admission free. Basilica of San Vincenzo in Prato, Piazzetta Beria di Argentine on the corner with via San Calocero • M2 Sant’Ambrogio

17.00: Orchestral music. Music by Grieg and Nielsen, performed by the Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra, conducted by Giordano Bellincampi, with Paolo Bordoni, piano. €8/19. Teatro Dal Verme, Via San Giovanni sul Muro 2 • M1 Cairoli

18.00: Chamber music. Music by Bach and Morricone, performed by Wacky Brass Quintet. Free tickets will be available from last Tuesday at the Urban Center, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 11/12. Entrance free. Palazzo Marino, Piazza della Scala 2 • MMI, M3 Duomo

19.00: Film preview, in English and Spanish, with Italian subtitles. "Another silence", directed by Santiago Amigorena. Starring: Marie-Josée Croze, Ignacio Rogers, Luis Ziembrowski, Alin Salas, Luc Vandal, Roger Frappier. Entrance €3.50/5.50 + annual membership card €3. Spazio Oberdan, Viale Vittorio Veneto 2 • M1 Porta Venezia

19.30: Opera sung in French, at La Scala. Les contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. Orchestra conducted by Marko Letonja. €26/224. Teatro alla Scala, Piazza della Scala • M1/3 Duomo

21.00: Ballet. “The Swan Lake,” music by Tchaikovsky, performed by the Russian National Ballet Theatre. €28/53. Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Viale dell’Innovazione 1 • M1 Precotto + tram 7; buses 86, 87

22.00: Live swing for dancing. Lady Dillinger. Booking recommended, phone the mobile number 334.311.2926. €10, plus annual membership card. Jumpin’ Jazz Cultural Association, Viale Monza 140 (first floor) • M1 Gorla

22.00: Live music. Band Of Skulls, Milk White and Shiva Racket. Admission free, with annual membership card. Arci Magnolia, Via Circonvallazione Idroscalo 41, Segrate (east of Milan) • M1 San Babila, then bus 73 to Linate Aerop.-S.Felicino

22.00: Live funk, blues, swing. Performed by The Hawks. Admission free. Drinks purchase required. Fermento Art&Pub, Via Camillo Ugoni 18 • bus 92, tram 2

22.00: Live pop folk rock. Performed by “I Treni all'Alba” with Paolo Carlotto and Daniele Pierini, guitars, Sabino Pace, piano, and Felice Sciscioli, drums. Admission free with 2012 annual membership card (€25), donations welcome. Arci, La Scighera, Via Candiani 131• Passante Bovisa, tram 3, buses 92 and 82

22 January 2012, Sunday

Time to be confirmed: Football. Inter versus Lazio. Stadio Meazza San Siro, Via Piccolomini 5 • M1 Lotto + bus 49

11.00: Chamber music. Music by Nino Rota, Bohuslav Martinu and Alessandro Solbiati, performed by the Albatros Trio. €10. Palazzina Liberty, Largo Marinai d’Italia • trams 12, 27; buses 60, 73, 62, 45, 66, 92

11.00: Chamber music. Music by Beethoven and Nino Rota, performed by Antares Quartet. Free tickets will be available from last Tuesday at the Urban Center, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 11/12. Entrance free. Palazzo Marino, Piazza della Scala 2 • MMI, M3 Duomo

20.00: Ballet at La Scala. “Excelsior”. Music by Romualdo Marenco. Conductor David Coleman. Etoile Roberto Bolle. €19/138. Teatro alla Scala, Piazza della Scala • M1/3 Duomo

21.00: Ballet. “The Swan Lake,” music by Tchaikovsky, performed by the Russian National Ballet Theatre. €28/53. Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Viale dell’Innovazione 1 • M1 Precotto + tram 7; buses 86, 87

21.15: Film preview, in English and Spanish, with Italian subtitles. "Another silence", directed by Santiago Amigorena. Starring: Marie-Josée Croze, Ignacio Rogers, Luis Ziembrowski, Alin Salas, Luc Vandal, Roger Frappier. Entrance €3.50/5.50 + annual membership card €3. Spazio Oberdan, Viale Vittorio Veneto 2 • M1 Porta Venezia

21.30: Live music. Very Short Shorts, Tempelhof, Cabeki. Admission free, with annual membership card. Arci Magnolia, Via Circonvallazione Idroscalo 41, Segrate (east of Milan) • M1 San Babila, then bus 73 to Linate Aerop.-S.Felicino


Monday, January 16, 2012

Via Manzoni, 9

Adorable delicate portico with two lithe female caryatids over the ionic capitals...Who built this, and for whom? My trusty "Milano" by the Touring Club Italiano has....More......

...let me down. Not a peep about this lovely little building now occupied by the UniCredit bank, at least in my 1998 edition (and I'm loathe to buy another one--they're darn costly, but worth it--until I can be assured that some significant additions and improvements have been made).

By the looks of the portico and considering the work up and down via Manzoni at the time, it surely dates to the 19th century.

The area--though not the building, as is implied by the commemorative plaque--once sported the family home of Prospero Moisè Loria, the founder of Humaniter/Umanitaria, the philanthropist and businessman who founded a school in the late 19th century so his factory workers--fresh from the illiterate countryside--could pull themselves up by their own bootstraps...the school still thrives, and offers a head-spinning array of courses for fun and work-related self-improvement, all at a very reasonable price:

I snapped this picture with you in mind on the 29th of July, 2011, around 1-1:30 P.M.

For a (free) design for needlepoint and cross-stitch featuring one of the capitals, see my blog on needlepoint, Ars acupicturae stellae - Star's Needlepoint art:


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Men's Fashion Week Blog...for a day...and Beware of Area C

Men's fashion week is a happening in Milan. Not quite as big as the women's fashion week, but Milan lives on and for upper end readymade wear just the same...and it conveniently coincides this year (at least) with the winter time sales (proof in the pudding is in the's a snap I took this foschia*-touched afternoon down via Spiga, together with via Montenapoleone, one of the two most chic readymade wear shopping streets in Milan...and that means in the world....More......

*"foschia" is the lightest of light fogs, not even a mist, that gives a pearly gray sheen to eye level views, though the sky overhead is still blue.

Fashion buyers, fans, journalists, photographers and bloggers from all over the world gather here...and those yearning for their ten minutes of Warhol-esque fame get their golden opportunity. (I didn't have the courage to take a picture of one ripe example of a fashion victum, uh, buyer, et al. ... a pudgy fellow with wild and crazy curly hair, heavy dark-rimmed round glasses, a hunter-style mid-thigh length plaid jacket in a dusty mustard and siena, dark pants and strappy army style boots ... how does one politely say, "Excuse me, you look like a hick from the sticks, may I take your picture in order to poke fun of you on my blog?" ... what *is* it with "high" fashion, anyway? Why does so much of it have to look goofy, or purposefully odd? "Signs o' the times" would probably be the answer.)

In past years, the streets in the Montenapoleone area, where the (enchanting) Bagatti Valsecchi Museum where I work also is located, were packed with strolling local window shoppers and (sticking out like sore thumbs) fashion floods, but this year I was hard pressed to get some populated shots. Could have been bad timing...right after lunch...could have been the freezing weather (2°C / 36°F)...I hope it's not the crumbling economy. Here's a snap in via Montenapoleone with some typical Italian and Milanese details and the brightly colored Gucci shop enlivening the shot.

This couple is stylin' down via Spiga (though the woman should do something with all that HAIR). Guys, please notice that you CAN wear comfortable AND attractive shoes that AREN'T tennies (one of my pet peeves).

Here's proof that it really was a sunny day. A stylin' guy on the left, a couple of visitors checking their map on the right, and one of Milan's two remaining medieval gates in the rear, right where via Spiga hits via Manzoni.

For more info on men's fashion English!'s a link to the web site of the national Italian chamber of commerce dedicated to fashion:

Before closing, a word to the wise..."Area C" is due to start up tomorrow, the 16th of January, 2012. I mentioned it a few posts ago. Remember what it is? In case you don't--and don't want to pay the city entry fee, or get a whopping big fine--it's a new approach (replacing the ZTL) to limiting traffic entering the downtown circle/cerchio (hence the "C") once delimited by the Renaissance era Spanish city walls. There is an entry fee to pay from Monday to Friday from 7:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M. Check out the city's pages about English (yeah!):


Friday, January 13, 2012

Photoless Friday and upcoming fun stuff to do in Milan

Already have plans for the 14th of January?

If they don't involve the bonfire of S. Antonio, they can...More......

Morimondo is a delightful little town with a lovely and historic monastery.

On the 14th ( and 15th ('Antonio_57685)of January there will be traditional bonfires at sundown celebrating the saint associated with nerve pain, called "the fire of S. Antonio." Cheer up, there also will be mulled wine and goodies (though not explicity stated, most probably for sale).

Until the 17th, more bonfires dedicated to the saint are available in other small towns that are part of the larger metropolis of Milan.

Also on the 15th of January, and on a regular basis throughout the year, is the open air market ("borsino") in downtown via Armorari (near Piazza Cordusio) of old stamps and postcards for collectors, see

Above cited sites are in Italian--can't be helped--but since I've located the right page for you, I'm hoping dates and times will be easier to find in them.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth

" shouldn't have...really.... Pssst, what are we going to do with it?"

That probably captures the real comments of Milan's city council members when presented with...More......

... this super gigantic bronze sculpture (the base comes up to about my chest, and I'm fairly tall) purporting to reproduce the horse that Leonardo da Vinci would have produced for the commemorative equestrian sculpture depicting Francesco Sforza, which originally was intended for the area between the city and the Sforza Castle.

In my previous message with info on the horse (see, I sanctimoniously stated that the Americans didn't understand that it wasn't really Leonardo's horse.

I stand corrected.

Apparently, the Italians in charge of San Siro don't understand either: there are big banners touting "Leonardo's horse" all over the front of the gallop stadium (as opposed to the trotting stadium) in front of which the statue has been perched.

Spurious, or hypothetical, it's still interesting to see, and a trip out to the horse races might be fun, anyway, since the 1920s structures by Paolo Vietti-Violi are delightful. (Took a peek at the posted rates for getting in to follow the races: men E. 5, women E. 1 ... now why is that? So few women go to the races that they want to encourage them to come? For more info on the racing, go to: ... an English version is available by clicking on the link in the upper middle right.) to get there?

Get yourself to Piazzale Lotto. Various busses go, but since the numbers may change it's not helpful to cite them. There is a Lotto stop on the red number 1 metro (subway) line, too. The subway exits all seem to be on the opposite side of the piazza from the direction that you need to go. Get above ground, and look for trees. There's a snippet of park next to the entrance of the Lido di Milano, a 1930s historic sport center with a city-owned pool, tennis courts, etc. You'll need to walk along the park next to the Lido on Via Caprilli. (For Lido entrance info in Italian:

Across the street from where the little park stops Via Ciprilli continues along a grafitti-covered stuccoed brick wall enclosing the race track grounds.

Keep following the graffiti-covered wall for about 10 minutes to this adorable little entrance.

It was open today, Sunday, even when there were no races to give access to the little pizzeria tucked into the right hand end of the secondary stands (the one with the horse sculpture in front). If you're able to go when there are races it will be easier to get closer to the horse.


(I took these photos around 2:30-3 P.M. today for your personal non-commercial enjoyment.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yesterday and (almost) Today

In the background on the left, the Late Renaissance drum of the Early Christian church, San Lorenzo*. In the foreground on the right,...More......

...the back of a school built in the "Novecento" period "of consensus"** during which the architectural style, in my opinion, was a wonderful balance between sterile and cold Rationalism and previous "been there, done that" more decorative styles. There also is an eery preview of post-modernism. But more about this another day.

All against today's bright blue sky (And the temps? Nippy, but coats and gloves were sufficient.)

*See my

**A backhand way to refer to the period when--at least seemingly--the majority of Italians were in favor of the restoration of a kind of order by the Fascists after a couple of decades of violent social unrest alternating with brief periods of uneasy quiet. The period of consensus itself began to unravel, beginning with the mid-30s colonial wars in Africa, right through the ignominious adherence to the alliance with Hitler and the anti-semitic laws. For further reading, see Mussolini by Prof. Pierre Milza, published in French in 1999 and in Italian in 2000.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What did the Befana bring you?

Yesterday, I wrote in my blog about Milan that I wanted panettone* from the Befana. I only half meant it...calories! calories! calories!

Be careful what you wish for...More......

Yesterday, I unwittingly helped the Befana.

As you already might have read, a friend who drives took me and her delightful little daughters to Viboldone, and on the way she wanted to stop at the new 'spaccio' of Bindi.

It turned out not to be a 'spaccio,' but a factory direct outlet with a caffè offering their goodies (sweet and savory) and a store, all designed with a great eye.

And the panettone was on sale.

I couldn't resist, and my excuse was to compare the Bindi panettone with my memory of my favorite for its wonderful quality-price ratio: the Motta Original Recipe panettone.


The Bindi panettone is good...but--even on sale--at twice the price of the Motta, it's not worth it.

Go, Motta!

*For a photo, see my:

P.S., are you ready for the usual 'service announcement?' I get no kickbacks of any kind for mentioning products and/or services.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More Chiaravalle

Went to Chiaravalle, just outside of Milan, again. It's a Romanesque and Gothic period monastery with some 16th century frescoes and architectural bits, 17th century frescoes, and...since the last time I went there...a revamped shop and bar.More......

For the general skinny on the monastery, go to my previous message:

What's new?

The little bar is now snuggled into a little recessed slant-roofed building on the left after entering this street-side gate (in front of which stops the bus 77 available in Piazza Medaglia d'Oro, the "Porta Romana" stop of the yellow metro line) built by Giuliano della Rovere around 1500 (before becoming THAT Pope Julius II...Michelangelo's patron and nightmare), which I photographed around 4 P.M. on the 2nd of July 2005.

Another afternoon shot from July, this time of the Romanesque (brick) church façade with a Renaissance (white marble) porch tacked onto it.

My lovely new friend L. and her sweet kids G. and G. and I poked around in the church a bit (thanks for the lovely afternoon!)...

...then in the cloisters, which--because of the wintery blight--are less spectacular this time of the year, but ever so refreshingly quiet, and the light was right for...

...a snap through the glass of the monk's refectory (dining hall), while the...

...chapterhouse (council room) is seen better in this 2005 snap because the door was open (for once).

The art and frescoes are lovely (I am determined to get an unfuzzy snap of the Luini Madonna and easy task since it's at the top of a forbidden staircase, and I don't have a tripod), but today's trip was principally for the little shop.

A wonderful place for products (mostly) produced by monks all over Italy. Aside from the small religious objects, there are wines, beers, liquors (the "Amaro di Chiaravalle" is heavenly, no pun intended), perfumes, soaps, face creams, teas of all sorts both tasty and medicinal (n. 3 for sleeping is not just effective, it's also very good), chocolates, and even--for those in the neighborhood--some meats and cheeses. There also is a little bookstore with religious and art books, CDs of (marvelous) Gregorian chanting and some postcards.

For more information about visiting the church (pretty normal hours, but they may be upset by wedding services), see their official site (only in Italian...sigh):

For more info (also in Italian) about the little shop--whose hours mirror those of the abbey--see:

Go visit the church and cloister (even if you're not religious, you're visiting the church as if it were a museum: give generously to the church's restoration and upkeep...there are money boxes floating around in the church and cloisters...they have light and cleaning bills, too, the benefits of which you are experiencing as you visit), get some goodies for yourself, and take some home for friends.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Delightful place to hang out

Encouraged by the happy memory of a new friend (Hi, N.!), I finally stopped into Bar Magenta at the corner of Via Carducci and Corso Magenta in Largo d'Ancona. I've only been meaning to do it for, oh, maybe 15 years...More......

I don't rush into things, do I?

Lovely on the outside, authentic and picturesque on the inside, it's bigger than it looks from the outside, and not only offers coffee and drinks, but also simple food and--yes!--free WiFi.

For more info, see this site, as I couldn't find an official one for the bar:

(Remember, I get no kickbacks of any kind for these notices.)


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Waiting for the Befana in Milan

Never miss a good honest opportunity for more chocolates, or gifts, that's my advice. The Befana is on her way, if you're in Italy...More......

She's an old Italian hag (no offense meant, in case she's reading this!) riding on a broom who brings little toys and candy for the stockings hanging on the fireplace on January 6. I wonder if she'll bring me more panettone (the wonderful Italian equivalent of fruit cake...but much more cake-y).

In case you're looking for stocking stuffers to give her a hand, the holiday stands are still up in Piazza Beccaria and--as seen here--in the enormous open air porch in front of the Stazione Centrale (it used to be so convenient to pull up there with taxis in bad weather...).

Probably just as well if she doesn't. Too many calories.

(I snapped this pic this afternoon around 3 P.M. with you in mind. Enjoy!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy first day of the New Year

Perched, a bit doubtful but at the same time hopeful that 2012 will be a good year.

Happy, healthy and prosperous new year to us all.
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