Friday, November 30, 2012

"Fly me to the moon"...snort

I love living in Italy for lots and lots and lots of reasons.

The frequent strikes are not one of them....More......

Today, the 30th of November, 2012: Alitalia.

The 12th of December: Meridiana.

The 14th of December Air Vallee (never heard of 'em) AND the postponed local transportation strike...gee, guys, right before Xmas, how very thoughtful of you, especially in an already sputtering economy.

The 8th of January, Meridiana, again.

All according to the official strike list of the Ministry of Transportation...that, despite my very nice e-mail, still hasn't created an English-language version of their web site...but even so, the dates and company names ought to be intelligible enough...use a little creativity, and you'll be able to translate things like "trasporto pubblico locale", too (local public transport).

Full of language angst, but want to try? Go here.

Sorry to have to be a wet blanket, but you might need this info.

I can hardly say my usual "Enjoy!," can I?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Here my are!," it's Thanksgiving Day, my favorite holiday...

...because it means a paid day off, relaxing with loved ones and eating scrumptious calorie-laden food guilt-free....More......

Well, it *did* mean a paid day's not observed in Italy, so that's a no go.

No family close by, either, but they are just a Skype call away, so no complaining (well, not much).

And the T-Day calories (if not turkey) have been put off 'til Sunday's brunch with sweet friends.

Nothing but work planned for today...but I'm not complaining in the least. Let's start the "I'm grateful for..." list with that.

I'm grateful I have a job, and even more grateful because it's a job I enjoy and my co-workers and students (mostly) nourish my soul.

I'm grateful that I'm in relatively good health, and--despite the usual aches and pains just about everyone has--I can walk, I can breathe, I can move around and do things for myself without hindrances.

I'm grateful that I have a clean warm bed; a clean, warm and quiet home; internet and a computer (how would I work without these, anymore?!) and that I still can open my heart to the little joys and beauties around me.

And though the Cosmos has not been very kind to me in these last two years, I have a new reason to be grateful. As a friend just said to me the other day, "I'm grateful even for the disasters that haven't come my way."

"Here my are!" wishing you a Happy (and grateful) Thanksgiving.


(Photo: I snapped it not too long ago in via San Michele del Carso for your personal non-commercial pleasure.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

sigh...more strikes on the way ('it's the economy, stupid')

Heading to Italy, today, or already here? Expect some problems getting a train, or taking a ferry. Coming in the near future? Here's the scoop for you, too....More......

The Ministry of Infrastructure has a page--only in Italian...sigh...--dedicated to upcoming strikes that will be significant on a national scale. Here's a summary because "forewarned is forearmed":

Today, 14 November: trains (from 2 to 6 P.M.), ferrys (departures may be delayed by four hours), port activities (each port organizes itself individually), cargo (trucks included; the last four hours of the shift)

19 November: airports of Linate and Malpensa (both serve Milan; from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.)

29-30 November to 1 December: local transport (all day on the 29th...usually the hours effected are organized city by city); trains (from 9 P.M. on the 29th 'til 9 P.M. on the 30th); planes, support personnel for trains and connections to the smaller islands (all day the 30th); ferries to the big islands (from 8 A.M. on the 30th to 8 A.M. on the 1st)

14 December: local transportation (hours organized city by city)

8 January: Meridian Airlines (from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.)

I can hardly say my usual "Enjoy!," can I?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lombard eats along the Navigli 'til December 7

Typical Lombard cuisine at fixed prices in restaurants all along the Navigli until December 7...yeah!...More......

Reservations are obligatory, and no info in English is available, but go here to see the web page, and click on the link at the bottom of the page for the list (with info) of dates and restaurants.

After all these years in Milan, one of my absolute favorite dishes is still "risotto milanese e ossobuco"...saffron risotto with a veal shank. Makes my mouth water, and it's not even 10 A.M., yet!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Want something fun to do in Milan this weekend? Beware...

...and plan ahead: another car-free day for Milan is planned for Sunday, the 17th of November (and nice weather has been predicted at least for Saturday, yeah!)....More......

For museum fun, there are a few big ones in town: "Constantine 313 A.D." 'til the 17th of March 2013 at the Palazzo Reale next to the Duomo (I really am looking forward to seeing this one in honor of the Edict of Constantine of 313 A.D. that legitimized Christianity, though it didn't impose it--as many erroneously believe--as the official state religion), Pablo Picasso (ho-hum...again?!) 'til the 6th of January at the Palazzo Reale next to the Duomo, and a show about Giovanni Bellini at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum until the 25th of February (I am looking forward to this one, too, but I hear it only has a few pieces gathered to highlight their Bellini...that's O.K. with me!).

Want something to do with the kids? How about a book illustration exhibit called "From Pinocchio to Harry Potter"? It's in the Visconti rooms at the Sforza Castle. No info, in English, I'm afraid, but here's the castle exhibits page in Italian. (For grown-ups, there's also info about the black-and-white photo exhibit at the castle, too.)

You've done that, and the kidlets still are sparking with energy? How about "G come giocare" (the equivalent of "P as in Play")? Three full days, from the 16th to the 18th of November, from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. in which the kids can go hog of charge (well, at least the entrance!). Where? Fieramilanocity (the newer part of the old convention center in town), entrance Porta Teodorico near MM1-Lotto. For more information their (Italian only, sigh) web site also has a "How to get here" page called "Come arrivare" (at least the maps will be intelligible), or a free number to call, hoping someone will be able to spit out a little bit of English: 800-126-970 (yes, there are only 9 numbers). The site itself is kinda fun: the kids can click and drag stuff around the center's building gussied up as if it were a medieval castle and, if they/you register, they will be able to vote for their favorite game.

You'll have to decide if your kids literally can stomach "The Body Worlds" exhibit at the Fabbrica del Vapore across the street (not coincidentally?) from the Monumental Cemetery. I *think* it's an exhibit of the preserved bodies, stripped of their skin, of real people who donated themselves for this...but I'm too squeamish to look into it any further. Might be educational, though. I don't see any info about it on the Fabbrica del Vapore web site, so here's The Body Worlds web Italian. might leave never wanting to eat meat, have been warned.

"MilanoMese," the free publication with a rich rich list of things to do in Milan is...may I have a drum roll, available as a free app! Go here for an overview in English, or go to the English-language tourism home page of the Province of Milan, and download it (there apparently are a few choices of formats...I'm still a bit behind the times, so I can't test it out for you, yet).

While you're at it...another big drum roll, please!...there also are free augmented reality Jeco tours available for your smartphones (and soon for androids) for Milan and for the Idroscalo. You'll first need to download the free Jeco Guides app from the iPhone store. Once you've downloaded it, if you want the one for the Idroscalo, just search on that term. If you want the one for downtown Milan, search on "Nel cuore di Milano"...and have fun!

Hungry with all that activity? Milano Restaurant eats for a flat E. 25 (including a whole whopping 1 Euro to charity, gee, guys, how generous of you...)... lasts until the 18th of November. I found info in--sigh--Italian.

Exhausted, yet?

I am!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

I want our bits and pieces back, too

Greece wants bits and pieces back from the British Museum.

Turkey now wants bits and pieces back from the Louvre.

Italy should demand its bits and pieces back from the Louvre, too....More......

Unfortunately, those bits and pieces won't include the "Mona Lisa." Leonardo, himself, took it to France when he moved there to accept the gracious hospitality of the French king.


But there are lots of other things that Napoleon had stripped from homes and churches (and conveniently deconsecrated churches) and carted back to Paris for himself.

Those things are snugly housed in the Louvre.

O.K., after his fall an agreement was found, and some of the bits were returned, but they all should have been returned.

Including this Titian, once in the chapel of the Confraternity of the Holy Crown of Thorns in Santa Maria delle Grazie (the church in whose refectory reigns Leonardo's "Last Supper").

War booty is war booty is war booty.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Today is a bittersweet day, the day we focus on remembering our dearly departed (as if they were ever out of our thoughts for even a moment, as if they weren't present with us, inside our hearts, our brains, our beings every moment, waking and sleeping, of every day...)....More......

My dear Mario was an amazing man.

Smart, caring, funny, warm, thoughtful, firm in his convictions, but open to honest dialogue and change, able to relate sincerely to popes, princes and paper boys.

He also made an enormous contribution to medicine in Milan, in Italy and in the whole world: he founded and chaired the world's first university chair for the physiopathology and therapy of pain, for which he was inducted into honorary membership (a "hall of fame") in the most important international association of pain specialists, IASP. This, for him, was his most prized award, rather, he used to say, like the Nobel prize in applied medicine (Nobel established a prize for researchers, not for doctors working with patients).

Then, among the gazillion other awards he received, his other most prized award he received in 2007: the Galen award for excellence throughout his medical and university career. He was the first to receive it.

Fascinated by the question 'What is pain?' and the need, as a caring physician, to relieve it, early in his career he defined pain in a Descartian way as an alarm bell that aids diagnosis, but, once it has served its purpose, which should be relieved. Sounds like the discovery of sliced bread? Not in Italy in the mid-20th century, and despite his efforts--including early and repeated seminars for general medicine doctors--traces of this acceptance of pain as atonement still linger.

He distinguished the phases of 'pain': stimulus, transit of the signal, arrival of the signal in the hypothalamus...up to which point, rapid though the progression is, it's still just a signal, it's not 'pain'...and then the arrival of the signal in the cortex, where it is processed, interpreted as 'pain.'

Fascinated by how the brain works and whether who we are is generated by something that survives the death of the physical body, or by the extreme complexity of the brain, itself, he closely followed the work of researchers such as Wall and Melzack, and developed the metaphor of Alice before a warped mirror to help non-specialists understand how the state of being of a person (which includes culture and ambiance) can modify pain perception, which takes place in the cortex: focusing on pain increases the perception of pain, distraction decreases the perception of pain.

Sweetheart, I just saw an article on a University of Southern California web site that would have thrilled you: how liking, or disliking, someone can modify how we perceive them, as seen in brain scans.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, just like Marcus Aurelius used to say, 'It's not the thing in itself, it's how we perceive it.'

Sweet dreams, sweet heart.
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