Sunday, March 24, 2013

When life hands you lemons...

...take pictures!

Friday there was a national strike of local public transportation. Of course,...More......

...I had a late evening course to follow that was supposed to finish at 10 P.M. But, not to be totally grumpy, it wasn't raining and the temps weren't bitter, so, armed with my camera, I snapped my way to work with a lovely blue and sunny winter sky and, skipping out a bit early, then home in the dark.

First stop was Piazza della Scala. Why are pictures of other people taking pictures so much fun!? (O.K., so it isn't Ansel Adams, but I'm still working my way toward black-and-white photography.)

Known today as the Armani building, this simple building, a lovely balance between modernism and a touch of traditional decoration in the form of a relief, was planned in the Novecento style as a multi-purpose building by Enrico Agostino Griffini in 1937-38, but only built right after WWII in 1947-48. The dark glass upper floor was added by Armani around 2010, and is a good example of a well-integrated addition, in my opinion.

Front and...

...back of the monument by Aldo Rossi (1990) dedicated to Milan's first post-WWII mayor and later President of the Republic, Sandro Pertini. The monument was recently cleaned, and the stone's natural tones have come out, creating a delightful and mystifying variegated surface where once there was just chalky white. With its original tones, the monument, rather large for the small piazza Croce Rossa, seems less overwhelming, and fits better into the space. ("Faces in Places" fans will appreciate the back view, in particular).

A few tourists enjoy the lovely courtyard of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum where I work in the afternoon.

Work and the class over, it was time to walk the long road home. Though a few trams and busses did pass in both directions, nothing was helpful for me, so with the company of the camera I began my trudge by snapping this shot of the AEM (electrical company) building in Corso di Porta Vittoria, 4. It has long fascinated me, and I have searched for info on it. In your honor, I got lucky! The official website of the Region of Lombardy has information cards on a lot of the region's cultural patrimony. Here's the info (in Italian) for this building by Antonio Cassi Ramelli, 1947-1948, a post-WWII reconstruction of a 15th century building (once home to the Pio Albergo Trivulzio) severely damaged during the bombing raids. I find the recessed glass and metal cage of the door an absolutely enchanting and fascinating space.

Weird light on the Piazza della Fontana fountain designed by the famous Giuseppe Piermarini and executed in 1782 by his favorite sculptor, Giuseppe Franchi (the first responsible for the design of La Scala and the relief in the building's pediment, the second responsible also for the execution of the opera house's relief).

The apse, the oldest part of the Duomo, begun in 1386.

The façade of the Duomo, finally completed in the Neo-Gothic style by Carlo Amati in 1813 (the blue blur was a lucky break: a police car shot by as I was snapping some pics, so I was careful to get it, too.)

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with the barely visible blur of a biker in the right hand corner. This covered street connecting the piazza of the Duomo to the street towards the then new central train station planned for where Piazza della Repubblica now lies was first decided just prior to the successful revolution ousting the Austrians, and was to be called in honor of the reigning Austro-Hungarian emperor, Franz Joseph. The successful Unification of Italy beginning in 1861 (the same year as the architectural competition for the building) gave a whole new meaning to this ambitious project renamed after the new country's first king. The project chosen in 1864 was by Giuseppe Mengoni, who fell to his death in 1877, perhaps not entirely accidentally, from heights in the structure after heavy criticism. The building had been opened in 1867, but the triumphal arch of the façade seen in this picture was only completed a year after his death.

Hopefuls waiting for taxis at the far end of the Duomo's piazza.

The Broletto (Palazzo della Ragione) by night. Perpendicular to the ancient Roman cardo massimo departing from the area of the nearby church, San Sepolcro, this market (open air arches) and town hall (structure above) was constructed by the podestà, a "foreigner" (from another city-state) entrusted with broad powers for a year, Oldrado da Tresseno. The original structure went up to the cornice line, and had a peaked beam-supported roof, replaced by masonry arches under Maria Theresa of Austria in 1771-1773 when the upper floor with oval windows was added. The building continued to function as the city's town hall for a few more years, until the function was moved to an area in the nearby street still called via Broletto. (Why "Broletto"? After all, doesn't that mean, "little garden/orchard"? Yes, it does, and it comes from the habit that arose in the Carolingian epoch of the arch-bishops, in charge of civic government on behalf of the Frankish rulers, of holding civic meetings in the garden of the nearby episcopal palace, partially transformed over the centuries into the royal palace we know today.)

Still more hopefuls at the tram stop in Piazza Cordusio (looking down toward the Sforza Castle). No action, though, so I kept on trudging.

Garibaldi, himself recently restored, watches over the surprisingly quiet night from a piazza near the Sforza Castle. (Artist: Ettore Ximenes, 1895)

Claes Oldenburg's very recently restored "Needle" (1999-2000) in front of the Cadorna train station.

A cruel scene in via Monti for little famished exhausted me, but by then I was almost home.

Thank you Mr. and Ms. Tram Driver. I got almost 2 hours of more exercise than usual. (If dripping sarcasm were honey, we'd be eating baclava.)

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