Monday, July 30, 2012

More free Wi-Fi news for Milan: OPENWIFIMILANO

Many of Milan's free city-sponsored WiFi sites already are activated (especially in the very heart of downtown), many more are on the way...easily findable with the online map ("Aree Servite") of the site...sigh...only in Italian (look for the green "pushpins"): OpenWiFiMilano....More......

Once in a spot covered by the free WiFi, connect with your 3-G+ cell phone, input your cell phone number as requested (it will be your USERID, according to the web site...I haven't tried it, yet!), and you'll be sent your permanent password in an SMS, active unless you don't use it for 365 days. If you don't have a 3-G+ cell phone, you can go to the ATM main center in the Duomo metro. Take care not to lose your PW!

Once you're registered, every day you'll have up to 300 MB of downloaded info (for those not tech-savvy, data is downloaded when you navigate, not just when you actively download pages/files). The first 60 minutes are at high speed, after which the traffic will run at 192 KB.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summertime Music in Milan

Music in Milan...maybe our festivals aren't as world renowned as others, but Milan keeps its musical head up high, and I'm not just talkin' the La Scala theater....More......

Want summertime music, culture and sports in the lovely central Sempione Park? Look no further (it's even in English, yeah!): Verde Estate 2012.

Like contemporary 'classical' music? (You're a braver soul than I am....) Big sponsors behind this one, so it's bound to be lush...even if the pages are only in Italian (booooo!):

Like 'antique' music (more my style...maybe we'll run into each other at one of these events): Milano arte musica. (The web page with their extensive schedule is only in Italian--booooo!, but if you're a classical music fan, you'll probably know a smattering of these Italian words, enough to help you choose a violin concert with music by Bach).

It's not even vacation time, yet, and I'm already thinking of fall...if you like music, and you'll be in Milan or Turin in September, you'll thank me for my diligence.

The 6th MI-TO music festival will be held in Milan and Turin (Torino) from the 5th to the 23rd of September.

Some of the events are free, lots are fee-based, there's a special shuttle service that goes between the two cities, and...they even have an English version website (yeah!):

That should keep your toes tappin'.


(My photo: an antique instrument at the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bragging rights: Karen Parks--MARVELOUS operatic & gospel singer--appointed to the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU

Karen Parks...beautiful inside and out and beautiful to listen to, too. She has just been appointed to the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. And she's my dear friend from our Fulbright days, so she gave me permission to spread the good word.

What a gal, she really deserves it, and I know she'll be an eye opener for her students.

Check out her (incredible) voice on her web site:

Anyone out there with ties to the summertime music festival in Verona's ancient Roman amphitheater, or the one in Caracalla's Roman baths? I think she'd be just perfect for those!

She'd knock their caligula off.


Night owl? Like 19th & early 20th century art? Then "GAM" is for you on Friday, July 27, 2012

If you're a fan of 19th century (and even early 20th century) art, don't let the badly chosen name--the Gallery of Modern Art (Galleria d'Arte Moderna)--fool you.

The GAM collection--housed in a splendid early 19th century villa once on the outskirts of town, but now snugly cuddled in downtown Milan on the edge of the Porta Venezia public park (erstwhile monastic lands confiscated by the then reigning Hapsburgs, but I usual...)--is principally 19th century. Easily reached, too. Near the Montenapoleone and Turati stops of the yellow metro line and various busses, for example the 94 and the 37. I think I've even seen the 61 gliding nearby.

They will be open tomorrow, Friday, July 27, 2012, until midnight! Yeah for them!

Booo, though, their web site isn't in English. Here's the link, anyway:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tough economy weighs heavily on the little guy: yet more public transportation strikes

More public transportation strikes on the horizon:

WED, July 18, today, from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.: Meridiana airlines and some ground personnel in Rome at the Fiumicino airport.

THURS, July 19 - July 20, from 9 P.M. to 9 P.M.: national train system support personnel will strike. Still no news about TreNord or Italo.

FRI, July 20, from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M.: in Milan, local public transportation strike.


Monday, July 16, 2012

A few more steps down via Manzoni to n. 10 and Palazzo Anguissola

A cool breeze blew last night, so let's take a few more steps down via Manzoni this morning to n. 10 and the Palazzo Anguissola...More......

Like its neighbor the Palazzo Brentani poi Greppi at n. 6, this mansion now belongs to and houses the Milanese offices of Intesa BCI (ex-Banca Commerciale Italiana, founded in Milan in 1894, merged with Banca Intesa in 2001, for more info in Italian).

If you're lucky when walking past the portal, the gates will be open. In the courtyard can be glimpsed a sculpture I'm sure is by Arnoldo Pomodoro, though I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere. If you don't have any idea about what his intriguing modern sculptures are like, look here, at one of my posts from 2010.

But back to Palazzo Anguissola. The façade is an elegant re-interpretation of severe sixteenth century architecture linked--according to my handy Touring Club guide to Milan--to the schools of Parma and France. Nothing in the guide is said about who the architect of the façade was, though it does say that Carlo Felice Soave constructed another internal structure in 1775-1778 and that the interiors were decorated by Simone Cantoni (d. 1818)...places you'll never get to see, unless the bank decides to participate in one of FAI's open days. (FAI-Fondo Ambiente Italiano takes care of the natural, architectural and artistic patrimony of its properties, and organizes cultural events all over Italy throughout the year. Typically in late March it organizes "open days" with private properties otherwise not visible to the general public in order to highlight Italy's rich cultural patrimony in need of continuous loving care and to encourage people to join think about it, too, O.K.? The fees are relatively low, about E.40 a year. See in English:

The façade is divided into three, the overall plan of which--similar to other structures of the 19th and early 20th centuries--is that of a single column: the (dark) base, the body of the structure punctuated with furrowed pilasters and the "captial" consisting in a vegetal frieze with swans, lyres and--in the very center--a Medusa head seen against a half shell, an odd but functional mixture of ancient motifs (the Medusa head generally is presented against the shield in which it was reflected, whereas the portrait bust of the deceased placed against a half shell is a common motif on ancient Roman sarcophaghi).

Here the Medusa head is seen just under that famous cornflower blue Lombard sky in a snap I took with your personal non-commercial viewing pleasure in mind on the 2nd of August 2011 at around 6 P.M.


P.S., I was so sure that I already had written about the Gallerie d'Italia collections housed in the Palazzo Brentani (via Manzoni, 6) and Palazzo Anguissola (via Manzoni, 10), that when a friend mentioned it, I wrote back telling her 'thanks, but I did it already'...then it began to gnaw at me...had I really? Incredulous, I checked and checked and checked...zilch. (I'll keep would be such a pity to lose such pearls of wisdom....)

So, with apologies to the very nice friend, here's the link to the web site (in English!) of this interesting collection belonging to the Fondazione Cariplo and the Banca Intesa San Paolo. For the moment, only the 19th century collections are open. In 2012, they are planning on opening the 20th century section overlooking Piazza della Scala. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summertime reminder: do NOT buy from street vendors

Some things spread out on a makeshift table, on a sheet, or directly on the ground. Roving (usually) fellows pushing bracelets, umbrellas and whatnots at you. You've seen it. You might even have been tempted to buy something from one of them.

That faux name brand bag or pair of sunglasses does look so convincing, it's so lovely, and it costs a fraction of the original. Maybe it is real (if so, it's probably stolen). It suddently has started to rain cats and dogs....More...

Do NOT give in to temptation!

First of all, you're risking an enormous fine, beginning at Euro 1,000.00!

Look what the U.S. government page on travel to Italy has to say:

"According to Italian Law (Law 80 of May 14, 2005), anyone caught buying counterfeit goods (for example, DVDs, CDs, watches, purses, bags, belts, sunglasses, etc.) is subject to a fine of no less than EUR 1,000. Police in major Italian cities enforce this law to varying degrees. You are advised to purchase products only from stores and other licensed retailers to avoid unknowingly buying counterfeit and illegal merchandise."

Second of all, you're feeding the various mafias and crime.

Third of all, those vendors do not pay taxes (which means us honest folks have to pay more taxes to compensate for your ill-advised action), and the products have not passed safety tests, and may even be harmful (sunglasses probably don't have the UV filter necessary for protecting your eyes, and things for children are probably toxic, flammable and have lots of dangerous detachable pieces).

Be wise!

Friday, July 6, 2012

(Semi-) wonderful news: free (city-owned) museum entrance til August 26, 2012

(Semi-) wonderful news!

Entrance to all (city-owned) museums is free in Milan until the 26th of August thanks to ENI (an Italian oil company): "Estate al museo."

Marvelous initiative. Gigantic kudos.

Important suggestion: next time, include private museums in the initiative, please.

The general public doesn't know, or care, if......More......

...a museum is city-owned, or private, as long as it's legit, so hard feelings are created. It's already hard enough to get some folks to put a toe inside a museum. Why create problems unnecessarily?

So, which museums are involved?

Museo Archeologico (only in Italian): a wonderful little gem, well set up in part of an ex-monastery courtyard dating to the Renaissance, itself nestled into still very visible bits of Milan's ancient Roman walls (Milan was the western ancient Roman empire's de facto capital from the late 3rd century A.D. 'til 402; go into the courtyard to see the Imperial period segment, still above ground...the polygonal tower--when open--offers a medieval chapel with frescoes...go into the basement to see the exposed Republican era remnants of walls). While there, don't miss the opportunity to go into the little adjoined church, San Maurizio. It's a Renaissance marvel, completed carpeted with frescoes.

Musei del Castello Sforzesco (in English): the castle grounds are open a bit earlier and later than the museums, and are a lovely place for a stroll, while the museums are varied and fascinating: from sculpture to painting, from furniture and decorative arts to paintings, and there's even a collection of ancient Egyptian art. Don't miss the "Arte antica" exhibit on the ground floor, with its entrance next to the princely courtyard overlooked by a delicate Renaissance era loggia and a short portico at the end. The museum, laid out wonderfully (except for the installation of Michelangelo's "Rondanini Pietà" at the end) by the architectural studio BBPR in the 1950s, whisks you under one of Milan's medieval gates, past remnants of its ancient Roman and Longobard past, directly to a beautiful and fascinating trek through its medieval and Renaissance periods, principally through sculpture (but there's also an interesting collection of arms & of Milan's principal and renowned exports during the medieval and Renaissance periods). It also gives you the wondrous opportunity to meander through the castle, itself...don't forget to note the wall and ceiling frescos (Leonardo da Vinci's "Room of the planks" with its fictive bower needs must have been a marvel), or to go into the ducal chapel with its restorative blue heavenly ceiling (and an exhibit plunked down into the space, screwed into the floor, and ruining the experience of the space, a VERY BAD museological choice...what WERE they thinking?!).

Museo del Novecento (in English): art of the 20th century up to about 1966, it concentrates on Milan's important contributions to the international art scene in that period. A valid new museum is always a welcome addition; though it has some serious flaws, go anyway.

Museo del Risorgimento (in Italian): a delightful little museum, even for folks not particularly enamored of the Risorgimento, Italy's finally successful bid for political independence. Curiosities abound: the coronation mantle worn by Napoleon when crowned the King of Italy in Milan, the medieval bell hammered so hard it bust during Milan's "Five Days" of rebellion in the spring of 1848 against the Austrian Hapsburg empire (the battle and bid for independence was successful, the heady period lasted a few months...until they were betrayed by a Savoy ruler and general, afraid to lose his own shirt, back into the hands of the Austrians...the Milanese were NOT happy campers, and he barely skeedadled with his life, after making the announcement from the balcony of a mansion still visible on via Manzoni. see HERE and HERE), Garibaldi's shirt, one of the first ever Italian flags to have survived, and paintings more interesting for their historical than artistic value.

Museo di storia naturale (in Italian): late 19th century structure with interesting exhibits and some dioramas in a lovely park with a few things for kiddies nearby (a little carousel, a mini-train ride, sometimes a pony ride, etc.). The park was laid out for the general public during the Hapsburg reign using lands that had been confiscated from monasteries. The once Neo-classical geometric layout was changed to the meandering English style in the late 19th century, around the time of an important industrial arts exposition in this very area.

While you're in the museum mood, don't snob the private museums, such as the Museum of Milan (terrific collection of now historic paintings of old Milan complete with...yes!...canals) and the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum (an enchanting "time capsule" of Milan's recent aristocratic past, it's one of Europe's most important and best preserved historic house museums, to be followed immediately by a visit to one of the other museums on the historic house museum circuit in Milan, the Villa Necchi...this duo makes very clear the difference between traditional Neo-Renaissance and 1930s modern taste...a wonderful pair), just to name a couple of the wonderful, but lesser known, ones. Your museum entrance fee only helps to cover a very small portion of the general operating budget, let alone the enormous costs for mounting a special's only the price of a plate of pasta, after all! generous, and...


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A "Golden Day" in Milan

Susan Van Allen of "Golden Days in Italy" kindly asked me to write up something about Milan for her lovely blog. "Oh sure!," I happily replied, joyous at the possibility to share something about this marvelous city with her readers.

Then time crunch reality set in for a few weeks.

A spurt of energy, a snippet of time, inspiration and an internet connection to look up the links, CLICK, and off it went to her.

Cosmos bless her. I hadn't remembered to check the word limit, and she very nicely and expertly pared it down for me (thanks, Susan!).

LOTS of stuff got let out, much of which--she assured me--has been treated in other posts, so...

Enjoy mine, and hunt through the others for other tidbits, such as about Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper."

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