Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another wonderful relaxing day - I don't know how much more of this I can take ;-)

Another lovely LOVELY day. Headed off to lunch at the VERY "OLD MILAN" pizzeria called "Pizzeria del Ticinese" at Corso di Porta Ticinese, n. 65, just outside...More......

...the Porta Ticinese marking where the medieval walls used to go. Porta Ticinese is one of the two still standing medieval gates of Milan. The other is the old Porta Nuova, not to be confused with the new Porta Nuova...especially since "Porta Nuova" means "new gate", and the old medieval "new gate" replaced the older ancient Roman gate on the same trajectory, but in the area now called Piazza della Scala, and the new, Neo-Classical, Porta Nuova, built by Giuseppe Zanoia in the early 19th century is about a half a kilometer away...get it?!

Very cute inside and very good pizza (thin crust that's not too cracker-like) at, by now, normal prices (two pizzas, two small beers, the automatic table service charge called the "coperto" and a Euro left at the table to boot for politeness, and we got out the door for Euro 27.00...which is still a heck of a lot of money for just two pizzas and two small beers--in fact, it's almost 54,000.00 of the old Italian Liras, when that amount would have bought much more...two pizzas and two small beers cover charge and all should have been no more than Lire 30,000.00...when we switched over to the Euro we got shafted AND people took advantage of the change to almost double prices).

Was the first in the door when it opened at noon-thirty, so got to get the table at the window, goodie!

Very pleased I went. I've seen it for ages, and have been wanting to go, but just didn't for one reason or another. Now I'm sure to go back.

After coffee, my friend and I headed off for a long walk in today's delightful weather...nippy at about 10°C / 50°F, but very pleasant air and very blue skies.

One of Christendom's most interesting and historic churches, San Lorenzo, is just INSIDE the ancient medieval walls, but OUTSIDE the erstwhile circle of ancient Roman walls ("Why?," you ask...because Christian churches often were founded over the burial place of "saints," and people were buried outside Etruscan and Roman city keep the ghosts out after nightfall). The central whitish parts (except for the dome, replaced in the late 16th century, after the original collapsed in an earthquake) and the large circular brick part to the left in the photo date to the Early Christian period. It's thought that the church might have been the palatine chapel, that is, the church within the emperor's compound (just a quick reminder: Milan was the de facto capital of the western Roman empire from the late 3rd C. B.C. to 402 A.D. when the emperor Honorius moved the capital to Ravenna, out of the way, he hoped, of invading worked for almost 50 years). Other structures began being added as early as the Lombard, Carolingian and Romanesque periods with bits and pieces also dating to the Renaissance, while...

...the Gothic compound that had been built up around the area in front of the church also using...

...ancient Roman columns probably from a nearby ancient basilica or the arena (destroyed through outlawing its natural use, which transformed it into a source for ready-made fancy bits for houses and churches) was cleaned up and...

...the hodge-podge of houses that had grown up next to the church throughout the ages was torn down during the 1930's (!) to liberate the ancient space recalling the Roman glory that was Milan, and this copy of an ancient Roman sculpture of Constantine the Great was installed in the piazza. Next year, 2013, will mark 1700 years since the Edict of Constantine and Licinius in Milan, declaring Christianity NOT the official religion, but one of the many accepted and recognized religions of the empire. (If only it had stayed just that, much pain and suffering might have been avoided, but other horrors might have arisen, instead, who knows.)

That the medieval people didn't care one whit about their ancient Roman past is demonstrated by the use of this slab assuredly cut like a fat slice of white cheddar out of a funerary or celebratory altar (see the inscription on the short lip facing towards you) and...

...this ancient Roman funerary stele being used as a stabilizing factor in the walls of the Porta Ticinese which...

...sports on its exterior over the arch a sculpture by the workshop of Giovanni di Balduccio commissioned by Azzone Visconti, ipso facto lord of Milan (prior to the official granting of the title of duke, but plenty after the strong arm of the family had stabilized their hold on civic power) and eager to put his "look into whose city you are entering" mark on these walls that had been raised to keep out the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick the Redbeard in the mid-12th century. The gate was refurbished by Camillo Boito in the mid-19th century, and was given not just three (instead of one) openings, but also the crenellation expected of any self-respecting medieval city gate.

A lot of walking later (I did have a four-cheese pizza, after all), a very tired, but happy, me waited for the bus to go home. The Milanese streets are still oddly deserted. Must mean lots of people are still out of town.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig, and I even got to do one of my "light paintings"...snapping slow digital camera pictures with the impressionistic effect of movement planned...AND especially of THE place I had been wanting to catch: the re-opened Old America restaurant on via Monti. Haven't been there, yet, but the inside looks adorable, the menu tasty (traditional Italian plus an obligatory burger, or two...even vegetarian!) and at normal prices, so I just might go. I'll give you the scoop, if I do.

At home, I finally got up the courage to try to hook up the repaired video recorder to the T.V. to see if I could get it to work: partial success is better than none at all, but I think I've figured out what went wrong. Better go try out the solution before it fades away.

Hope you've enjoyed coming along with me during my day, I sure enjoyed having you with me all day. I snapped these pictures with your personal non-commercial fun in mind.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A day of my own...

With apologies to Virginia Wolfe--though she might have approved, since it's about temporal, rather than physical, space--I am luxuriating in the prospect of a day all to myself. No work that can't be put off comfortably (at least until tomorrow),...More...... Christmas phone calls or dinners (though both pleasant),... all done, gifts unwrapped and enjoyed...

...the rain and an incipient cold may help keep me at home, the idea for a present for a friend itching me to get out the sewing machine, oodles of fun books to read that have backed up over the months, "Downton Abbey" scheduled for this evening, and--I am so grateful--a quiet warm clean house with a full fridge in which to do it all, including writing to you. Missin' ya!

The rush of preceding days over, the city seemed almost ghostly.

Santa has come and gone.

There'll still be time to enjoy the lights in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele,...

...the piazza of the Duomo...

...and the city's Christmas tree (in this year of austerity, offered freely to the city by a brand of watches).

Have you ever tried Campari, a traditional Milanese aperitif? It's a bit sweet and bitter, and better yet with a slice of fresh orange.

Maybe we could ring in the New Year over a glass in the historic cafè where the drink was invented.


(All snaps are mine and are recent, shot for sharing Milan's holiday spirit with you for your personal non-commercial pleasure...Merry Christmas!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, 2012

Be grateful, be aware, be loving.

Merry Christmas from "My Milan (Italy)"!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012...Happy Holidays!

Have lots of photos and snippets of Milan to share with you, but still have some work to get done before tonight,'s wishing you all Happy Holidays...and I'll be back at ya', ASAP!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Aww, they're just Drips(inates)

A few shards of pottery, some glass and bits of mosaics turned up under his plow, and a farmer near Arzenigo in the province of Vicenza in northern Italy was intrigued. Thankfully driven by curiosity to contact experts, the farmer shared his findings with an art historian who...More...

...dug in historical archives that revealed records of ancient Roman remains in the area.

Radar helped the archaeologist pinpoint square foundations and roads, evidence of Roman inhabitation that, with the help of the unearthed fragments, can be dated roughly to a span of time from the 1st century B.C. to the 3rd or 4th century A.D. A funerary altar, always placed outside the town walls, was rediscovered.

Boooop...boooooop...booooop went the radar, and the scientists and archaeologists could hardly believe their eyes.

Significantly under the square formations of Roman construction were found the foundations of much larger round formations, unequivocal evidence of an earlier and prehistoric settlement perhaps dating to the Neolithic or Late Bronze Age.

Kazaam!, the ancient city of Dripsinum, a city of the sub-alpine Dripsinites, may have been rediscovered.

Thanks, Mr. Northern Italian Farmer, for not pocketing the fragments and whistling knowingly as you continued to plow. Thanks, Mr. Northern Italian Archaeologist, for having the curiosity to dig--literally and figuratively--a bit deeper. Thanks, Mr. Northern Italian scientists, for your significant role. Thanks, Mr. Northern Italian Mayor, for permission to dig.

Let the investigative fun and scholarship begin!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 & gratitude

12 things for which I'm profoundly grateful:...More...

1) 15 marvelous unforgetable spiritually enriching years with my dear sweet Mario, whose death in 2010 unleashed a broad, deep, swift-flowing, icy, subterranean river slowly being bridged with the help of...

2) ...dear family

3) ...dear and inspiring friends among whom I count my co-workers and students

4) ...and work & studies...

5) ...that I love;

6) utilities

7) a home with a clean bed and a full fridge

8) efficient public transportation

9) health

10) reading

11) computers

12) internet

How 'bout you?


(Image: my handsome Meyer grandparents in about the 1930s...thank you for the picture, Uncle Pete and Aunt Darlene!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A gassy problem in Italy...

...for which no tummy pills will be useful: a gas station strike from about 7 P.M. today 'til about 7 P.M. on Thursday.

Yup...two full days without gas both in town and on the highway, where the hours of the strike may differ slightly.

Right before Xmas...gee, thanks, guys.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Year's in Milan? Fun in English...for free!

Native English speaker? Just like to practice? Be in Milan for New Years? You're in luck!

John Peter Sloan will entertain you with 80s music at the historic Bar Magenta, via Carducci 13, until the third hour of the New Year!

Want more good news?

The entrance is free!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

More Christmas concerts in Milan's beautiful Duomo: December 16

I do love classical music, don't you? (I'm even more partial to opera, but that's beside the point.)

If you do, too, here's another Christmas-time opportunity in Milan's beautiful Duomo...More......

At 7 P.M., right after the church service, there will be a concert.

The info, available on the Duomo's page in English (yeah!) even contains the music program!

Entrance is free, but--here's one of my soapboxes, again!--if you're visiting the church like a concert hall or a museum, and not to pray, please find and donate generously to the box labelled "restauri"'s for the church's restoration and maintenance, and the poor Duomo does need a great deal of help in that area.

As long as I'm mentioning it, on the same official website there is information about how to buy contemporary art to favor the Duomo's restoration and how to donate for the restoration of a specific pinnacle.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 12, Rotary International concert in Milan's Duomo

Like concert-style music? Like Milan's beautiful Duomo? Like Christmas? Why, my dear, you're in luck!More...

The evening of December 12 at 8:30 P.M. there will be a Christmas concert in Milan's beautiful Duomo.

Nothing more is said, even on the (Italian only) official Rotary website, but I imagine that there will be an offering plate passed around to help some charity, maybe even the Duomo, itself, yeah!

That reminds me...when you go into a Catholic church in Italy...if you go to look at it as an architectural and artistic wonder, you're entering just like a tourist in a museum, so--aside from being respectful of the place (that's the mother in me talking)--look for and donate generously to the box labeled "restauri"'s for the restoration and maintenance of the church and its holdings.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Professional crafts in time for Christmas until 9 December

Today, December 7, is Milan's patron saint day, dedicated to St. Ambrose, a very interesting character, indeed. Sent to Milan, then the de facto capital of the western Roman empire, to be governor, a crisis in the Christian church brought him, by popular acclaim, to be bishop (we say "archbishop," but--in fact--that position wasn't created for Milan until centuries later). Learned and gifted with an exceptionally forceful personality, he single-handedly affected the history of Christianity, profoundly.

But the post isn't about him.

The post is about...More...

...getting that special something and favoring professional crafts at the same time.

You still can do it in Milan until the 9th of December at the Rho-Pera seat of the trade fair (remember...there is a special metro ticket to pay because it's outside the city limit).

Want more info?

Cosmos bless them...their site is in English.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Babbo Running - the Christmas time race through the heart of Milan, Sunday, Dec. 16

I'm not as dedicated to sports, as it may sound.

Then why do I report on all the running races in Milan?...More......

"Because they disrupt the public transportation and foot traffic, that's why," says the Grinch that stole Christmas.

Not a very bright idea to block traffic with a foot race through the city's center in the busiest (and coldest and potentially rainiest) part of the year, in my opinion, but who asked me?!

So, on Sunday, the 16th of December beginning at 10:30 A.M. at the castle, there will be a 5K run through the town.

Want more info? Here's the (Italian only) web site:

Oh, did I tell you?

You have to dress up like Santa Claus to run.

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