Friday, December 11, 2015

Wednesday 16 Dec 2015...public transportation strike in Milan

Sorry to always be the bearer of bad tidings, but am so SWAMPED with work (no complaining, in times like these!) that I can alert you only to potential strikes.

Public Local Transportation strike in Milan from 8:45 A.M. to 12:45 P.M. ... only four hours, this time ... whew!

Here's hoping that next trimester will be a little less heavy, work-wise.

Hugs for the strike, you might need them.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Please, folks, use professionals for your translations!

Just can't stand it anymore.

Companies big and small ... please use professionals for your translations.

Really, for enormous companies with mega-budgets, like ATM and Trenitalia, there's absolutely no excuse.

I'm just sayin'.

For those of you who don't read Italian, the beginning says: "The hamster of the neighbor of the cousin of the parrish priest of the maid."

(Credit where credit is due: It's my graphic, but the photo is from

Thursday, November 26, 2015

National train strike from 6 PM today (26 Nov) to 6 PM tomorrow (27 Nov)

Travelling by train in Italy today or tomorrow?

Good luck, even with the Malpensa Express special train...More......

...between Cadorna in Milan and the Malpensa international airport.

Tomorrow, there also will be some local public transportation strikes, but the official Italian Ministry of Transportation web site says nothing about Milan.

At least the workers waited to strike until after Expo...let's hope it gets cleared up before the Christmas season.

So, what to do if you need to get to Malpensa?

You'll have to find a helpful friend, or take a taxi.

Be sure to always take only official taxis because these are covered by insurance and have to adhere to equipment and comportment standards, among which is the clear posting of the costs between Milan and the two airports. Last time I noticed, the costs between Milan and Malpensa were around a flat Euro 120.00. (Yes, that's one hundred and twenty Euros.)

Can hardly say my usual "enjoy!," can I?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Roses by any other name ... the Profume Museum in Milan

Stuff we take for granted can, when you start pulling at the threads of its history, fascinate, enthuse and enthrall. The little private Perfume Museum in Milan does just that....More......

Born of a private collector's passion, the museum is just a few steps away from the Cenisio stop on Milan's appropriately named n. 5 lilac line (in case that reference was too obscure for you, how about Chanel n. 5 and the profume of flowers?).

When you get to the address, don't let the unassuming apartment building fool you; it's in a small semi-basement apartment brightened with lights and lots of large clean glass cases housing hundreds and hundreds of examples.

No labels, though, but the visits are obligatorily guided, anyway, by the enthusiastic collector and founder, so you won't miss them.

Two basic threads seemed to interweave, separate and weave, again: the changing fashions of both smell and packaging (and, hence, marketing...OK that makes three threads).

Though perfumes are known to us from just about the beginning of history (i.e., writing, about 3300 BC), the collection concentrates on the period from the late 19th century, when perfumes for ladies -- as far as I can remember of all the info I was trying to absorb -- tended to be of single flowers, pure in their idealized asexual view of women, up to the roaring Twenties, when the social life of ladies burst out of more than corsets, embracing the birth of sensual complex fragrances, up to our own time.

Similarly, perfumes originally were produced, like medicines, by neighborhood pharmacists, and so were packaged anonymously in the same anonymous rectangular bottles also used for medicines. In the early 20th century, the need to attract attention in the ever industrially expanding universe of perfumes also provided fertile ground for the birth and development of creative bottle designs.

My personal favorite? This one for Chanel, created by a stroke of genius and the designer's sneak peak at the tailor's bust Mae West sent to Chanel for the creation of her clothes.

MUSEO DEL PROFUMO (Perfume Museum)
via Messina, 55 - buzzer 5 then 9 then ENTER

Entrance fee: E. 10,00 per person, a minimum of two people

Hours: every day from 10 AM to 3 PM

The Typewriter Museum in Milan

Like to write? Ever used a typewriter, whether manual or electric? Love it when history comes alive through a close look at the everyday objects that surround us? ...More......

Then the Typewriter Museum in Milan is right for you!

About halfway between Maciachini and Zara on the yellow metro line, this little private museum born of a collector's passion is -- I admit -- ...

...a bit fusty, a bit severe with its row upon row upon row of industrial-style shelving packed with lots and lots of machines id'd with a bare minimum of info, but don't let this discourage you...for two reasons.

(1) The owner-founder-director-guide is absolutely engaging and enthralling, and

(2) Soon, the museum will have my single sheet in English that will let you pick out a few of the more important examples to see the collection at your own pace (the museum so enthused me that I volunteered to do it!).

There are about 500 machines in the collection, including calculators, that cover pretty much the whole history of typewriters from the end of the 19th century up to computers.

The premises are small and simple because it's an entirely privately organized and funded museum that doesn't charge admission...considering helping out by buying one of the very reasonably priced publications.

via F.L. Menabrea, 10 - 20159 Milano

Entrance fee: free

Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 3 - 7 PM

Better call ahead if you want a visit or info in English.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Galleria Campari ... Go! Go! Go!

Super, super, super!

Go! Go! Go!...More......

That's my short and sweet message to you about the Galleria Campari, the company museum that celebrates its own history, present and future through an engaging look at their approach to marketing, advertising and PR (so it's great, even if you're not interested in sipping this tasty bitter-sweet aperitif, but only in beautiful graphics, this one by Nicolai Diulgheroff that not only promotes the product, but also, like any self-respecting piece of Futurist art, also celebrates the motion and machinery involved).

The guided visit first touches on the creation and successful sales of Campari liquors, the company's roles in the urban development of Sesto San Giovanni, today's HQ and the site of the museum, and Milan, including its historic presence -- still felt, even if the cafè is no longer directly owned by them -- in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Already interesting, now the real fun begins, as the visit uses integrated multi-media and imaginative interactive displays together with more traditional presentations of then avant-garde sketches and posters to create a path whose meaning is hinted at even in the change of floor coverings. In fact, one of the more enchanting things about the visit is this carefully planned total experience that even encourages you to explore what red -- the color of Campari bitter -- smells like. (I sure hope that this part of the display isn't temporary, just for Expo!)

There is also a shop, where you can buy some great Campari-related stuff.

One more reason to go: to give moral support to a company so historically dedicated to the arts. Not only were their advertising choices part of the push toward modern art, but they also support young contemporary artists. One wall of glass gives a day and night view of a featured work by an up and coming young artist, while the exterior of the wall around the perimeter of the HQ park (partially open to the public!) is dedicated to young graffitti artists invited to reinterpret historic Campari adverising graphics.

Thinking about becoming an expert bartender? They also have an onsite serious academy for bartenders. Next to it, there is also a restaurant about which I found nothing on the web site. I do hope it also has a bar, where one can go to taste the aperitif as it was meant to be. Curious? The website has a page for finding what they call "red bars" located the world over.

Drawbacks for the visit? Only one, and that one only apparently. Personally, I hate being forced to do much of anything, and guided tours are no exception, though if it's possible to choose them, I'm happy to do so. Yes, to see the collection -- housed in the company's HQ -- you have to go on a guided tour, which also means that you can't explore all the bells and whistles so intriguingly provided. On the other hand, there is no didactic info available, except for the image labels, and so you'd miss out on the magic world that is Campari without the guide. If you don't like being forced to do guided tours, either, it's worth your effort to get over the resentment, and do it.

To access the website (only in Italian, another drawback, but the info about opening hours should be clear enough, armed with a dictionary for the names of the days of the week), you have to be of drinking age in your own country. This might be the case for the visits, too; contact them, and ask, if you had thought to go with the kidlets in tow.

Galleria Campari

Via Antonio Gramsci, 161 - Sesto San Giovanni

T +39.02.62251 -- e-mail:

Cost: free

Tours in English: available upon request (you have to call/write an e-mail to reserve the tour, anyway, so it's no extra bother)

Hours: vary according to company plans (for example, they were expanded during Expo, though closed in August), so check out the web site, but when I went there were only three afternoon tours during the week, though there were five on Saturdays from mid-morning to early evening

How to get there from Milan

Take the MM1/red (!) line to the end-of-the-line, the Sesto San Giovanni stop. When you exit the metro, position yourself so that you have your back to the train station. Turn left, and go about one city block down via Antonio Gramsci to their HQ on the other side of the street. A portion of the late 19th-early 20th century façade has been preserved and nested into the modern building of red brick, a lovely architectural touch to soften the clean stark modern style with this traditional building material and integrate it better into the surrounding area.

BEWARE: (1) you need to pay for a ticket with a supplement for Zone 1, because Sesto San Giovanni is outside Milan's city limits. Besides it being the honest thing to do (riding the public transport system without paying, or without paying the supplements, is stealing from the city, and that means from me, too), you risk a hefty fine, (2) until it is updated, do NOT trust the "how to get there" info on the ATM web site, which doesn't offer via Gramsci in Sesto San Giovanni as an option in "GiroMilano," but will send you -- ahem, sent me -- to the opposite site of the a deserted area near the freeway...on a blistering hot day....


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Villa Clerici - Gallery of Sacred Contemporary Art

Like contemporary Christian sacred art, let's say from the 1950s to now? Like early 18th century architecture and frescoes, or just nosey, and want to see how the rich and aristocratic lived in that day? You're in luck, but it will take a minimum of effort since it's a bit out of the way. Easy to get to, though, but more about the practicalities, later.

If you see this, you're not lost. The street doesn't look very promising, but it's the right one, and soon...


(Impatient type? skip to the bottom for the practicalities!)

... you'll be seeing this, Villa Clerici, built in the 1720s and 1730s for Giorgio Clerici having probably been designed by Francesco Croce, the architect responsible for the principal pinnacle (with the figure of the Madonnina) of Milan's Duomo. It was enlarged and decorated for Antonio Giorgio Clerici (1715-1768). From the 1920s, it served as a halfway house for ex-convicts to adjust to free life, and other adjacent buildings raised in the 1950s still help troubled kids. Creating a museum of sacred art by inserting modern and contemporary pieces into this historic context was the 1950s brainchild of Dandolo Bellini.

The grand salon, redone complete with mirrors in the 19th century, is still beautifully decorated in 17th century style, and has a large 1968 bronze sculpture of "a pope" by Floriano Bodini.

It looks like Paul VI, a personal friend of the founder, and is a bit disquieting and ominous with those boring eyes and, bursting out of the gap in his cope, those enormous rubbery hands and a dove. Catholics the world over please forgive me, but it looks like a threateningly enormous deranged cuckoo clock.

Some of the pieces are interesting in and of themselves for their references to famous sacred figures, to Biblical figures and narratives, for having been done by well-known artists, for the possibility to study them up close and personal, for their intriguing nature, or for the possibility of comparing them in your mind to more famous pieces (like this "Pietà" by Attilio Selva that screams out references to Michelangelo's "Rondanini Pietà," in Milan since the 1950s,...

...or the little "David" by Francesco Messina contrasted with the Renaissance ones by Donatello and Verrocchio).

There's even an installation, which I liked -- a lot -- the moment I set eyes on it: "Christus Patiens" (Suffering Christ) by Claudio Bonomi. The rich colors are not only pleasing, but they also evoke the purple vestments and hangings that are used for mourning in Catholic churches, while the reclining figure of Christ, coming, it seems to me, from a Deposition, seems to float on the mystical lap of Mary, and it's possible to observe the iconographical suffering caused by the wound in Christ's side together with the physical suffering of the sculpture, itself, damaged, exposing the inner structure of the broken hand.

Other objects are interesting because, as sketches, they give you a backstage glance at what the artist was trying to achieve. (Often, the painted or sculpted sketch, freer in execution, is much more lively and engaging than the final product.) There are quite a few large original colored drawings done by the artist Aldo Carpi, responsible also for some of the modern stained glass windows in the Duomo. It's interesting to see how the artist skillfully kept the technicalities of producing stained glass in mind as he designed where to put the struts and the canes (these latter being the "H"-shaped bars into which the glass pieces are fit).

Over the grand entryway is a lovely room with fictive sculptures of female figures, perhaps the muses or at least learning and the arts (I saw an artist and a writer, for example). Don't try going through the door on your's fake. Symmetry is everything. Do note, though, that the shadows cast by the 'sculptures' were planned keeping the natural light entering from the windows on our right in mind. Very clever, but not new in the history of art.

Some of the ceilings are still quite pretty.

The front and back gardens were put in by Mr. Bellini to replace the lost original ones, but they, too, were most probably in the Italian style, that is, geometrically laid out, as opposed to the English style favoring a seemingly natural, though really carefully planned, environment. Behind the villa is a large theatrical setting that would make open air theater a joy...if one could stand the heat and mosquitoes.

Admittedly, the museum is a bit old and dusty in its layout, but real museum and art fans won't let that bother them. It also was as hot as Hades the day I went, and the lack of summertime AC means that there are a lot of enormous jumps in temps and humidity levels that are dangerous for the building's decor and many of the more delicate art pieces. It was my first time there, so I can't say if it is heated in the winter, but I can say that -- as is typical of, I'd wager, most Italian public places, including museums -- it isn't handicapped accessible. No bar, not even a vending machine (though they might be considering such, given the items on the questionnaire), but the bathrooms are clean, and it's pretty easy to get to, though it does take a gouge out of your day.

So, is it worth it to go? Yes, if you are interested in 18th century villas and/or modern and contemporary art, sacred or not.

If you live in, or near, the area, they apparently have a lively music and conference program throughout the year, too.


Via Terrugia 8/14

02.647.0066 / 02.6611.8036

Hours: Monday - Saturday from 2:30 to 18:30 PM, no reservations required

Entry fee: E 2.50


Get yourself to the via Terruggia stop in "downtown Niguarda" (Niguarda being a peripheral area absorbed by the expansion of Milan, it still has quite a provincial small town feel to it, despite the large and famous "Novecento" style hospital.) From downtown, it might take about 45 minutes.

To do this, you can take the MM3 / yellow line to Macciachini, then the n.4 tram to NIGUARDA CENTRO (NOT Niguarda Ospedale), get off, and walk in the same direction you just came for about three streets, then turn left onto Terruggia.

You can also take the MM5 / lilac line to Ca'Granda (another name for the hospital, which substituted the Renaissance hospital of that same name, whose buildings now serve as the main seat for the State University of Milan), where you need to take the bus n. 42, and get off at the via Terruggia stop.

Alternatively, you can take the MM5 / lilac line to Bicocca, then take the 52 bus to the stop via Terruggia / via Val di Ledro.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Fondazione Prada...stimulating AND open in August

Used to be that Milan pretty much closed down during August, but now that more and more people are staying in town, for one reason or another (read: the economy still hasn't picked back up sufficiently for people to afford long vacations like they used to take), they need something to do. ...More......

The exhibit space Fondazione Prada, open all through the month of August except a couple of days here and there, is an interesting solution.

Set up in a turn-of-the-last-century ex-distillerie ("Cavallino bianco," an Italian whiskey, one of the guards told me), it features the permament modern and contemporary art collections of Prada, as well as temporary exhibits and sometimes even film cycles.

I'm not a big fan of modern and contemporary art, but, like yucky-tasting medicine, it has to be taken in, and sometimes it even turns out to be tastier than one thought. In any case, something is gained.

Like my re-realization that familiarity goes a long way to helping us/me accept something. Now, while I don't particularly LIKE this (blue) Yves Klein (1957) or this (white furry) Pietro Manzoni (1962), I am used to the latter's shennanigans, and the former, for all its "what-the-heck-is-that?-ness," is still painted by the hand of the artist, is painting-sized, resembles a bas-relief sculpture, and is hanging on the wall, as one expects well-behaved art to do in a museum. I realized that this is why, when I walked into the room, I didn't roll my eyes (well, at the blue one, at least).

For similar reasons, my eyes didn't roll (much) when I walked into this room. Whether I liked, or understood, the paintings and sculptures hanging on the walls, they were doing what I expected paintings and sculptures to do, and I even recognized the work of some of the artists, since I had seen things of theirs before. Familiarity.

All of which I certainly can't say for what are called "installations" (for the less artsy, these are manipulations of the viewers total experience that can take place through various means: space, objects traditional and non, whether crafted or found, smells, colored lights, light and dark, music, video, tactile experiences,...). This one called "Creek bed" (2014-2015) by Robert Gober did make me roll my eyes, I confess, but trying to find SOME meaning, significance, or at least a raison d’être (even if it was purposefully nonsensical), in the piece even for my skeptical brain, I did find something. What looks like an ordinary street drain in the center of the room has on its shallow bottom small rocks, running water and a red illuminated fake human heart. All that for expressing trashed feelings that still pulse. And you know what? The more I think about it, the more I like it. In another room that he blanketed with eery wallpaper verging on the disgusting, the same artist actually did an untitled piece that I liked, perhaps for the clean colors and lines: an old white crib with a child-sized (probably not coincidental) slab of beeswax flanked by fake Granny Smith apples. (Why Granny Smith, and not Pink Lady? Maybe he was making a reference to his granny, named Smith. Maybe he just liked the gorgeous green against the white. Maybe it had another meaning for him, but has different meanings for each of us. This, in fact, is one of the things to absorb about art in all its forms that has emerged with the less evident subject matter often characterizing modern and contemporary art.)

Nearby is Louise Bourgeois' 1996 "Cell" that seems to invite viewers to enter, but the guard says "no," and must be obeyed. One could spend time contemplating, of course, and find something (there was, in fact, a touching quote about anxiety that can be seen through one of the windows on the other side), but I didn't see anything new, here, in this collection of "found objects" (a practice dating already from the beginning of the 20th century), nor in Gober's nearby gigantic cream-of-wheat Warlhol-esque box.

And here's the conundrum: placing so much emphasis on the new, the unique, or the startling, backfires. After the first one, it's already vacuous doldrums repetition (which, OK, was part of Warhol's point, but once he did it, it had been done, and was no longer startling). "Well," I hear the modern and contemporary art fans fuss, "what about all those 'Madonna and Child' paintings done throughout the centuries?!" Yeah, so what about them?! They weren't trying to be altogether new and different.

I fear that a lot of modern and contemporary art is between a rock and a hard place: no longer interested in repeating tradition (and who says they should?!), but making boringly repetitive attempts at being non-repetitive.

Cosmos at least bless those who put places to sit in museums.

There were some pieces that caused me to roll my eyes. I don't remember seeing a label for this one, though, so maybe it's not an artwork, after all, but a hidden support for video equipment. Seriously. On the long side toward the windows, it looked like there was a kind of flap that could be let down. Maybe the artist intended it to generate sounds when someone entered the room. Who knows?

In the area that the Fondazione calls "The Podium," there was an interesting (temporary) look at, guess what, copies and repetition in antique art. The absent originals, about which we know thanks only to then-contemporary citations, are nicely evoked in very blurry life-sized black and white prints laid flat on very low podiums near to the various copies gathered from important museums all over the world, such as the Vatican, in Naples and the Getty, just to name the three that come first to mind. For those who haven't studied this aspect of ancient art, nor the fact that it often was quite colorful, this temporary exhibit will be an eye-opener. For those of use who have, the beauty of the antique pieces restores the soul.

So, I dutifully waded through the modern and contemporary art bits (missed one of the temporary exhibits because I already had reclaimed my bag, and, with heat strong enough to, as the Italians say, break paving stones in two, I was not going to trudge back to the cloakroom to re-consign my voluminous bag), salved my soul with the ancient bits, and then rested and restored the body in the cute little cafè that, they tell me, is open until 10 P.M.

So, should you go? Yes, of course. Is it far away and hard to get to? Not particularly. Is it costly? No, it's within the norm. Challenge yourself, even if your eyes get lots of exercise rolling. It's my experience that sometimes the things that made you roll your eyes the most burrow the deepest into your soul, and toss up interesting thoughts, like a mole digging a burrow.

And the mere familiarity will help you, too.

Fondazione Prada
Largo Isarco 2 (just on the south side of the rail tracks at Piazza Lodi TIBB), Milano
tel. 02.5666.2612

Hours: every day from 10 AM to 9 PM (ticket counter closes at 8 PM); cafè closes at 10 PM; call ahead for special closing days (like the 15th of August, for example)

Cost: regular ticket E. 10 (some discounts available)

How to get there:

(1) MM3/yellow line, get off at Piazza Lodi and walk, or take the 79 (for the bus, go to the stop at the beginning of the overpass in the southerly direction, and take the 79 in the direction of Gratasoglio for about 7 stops to Largo Isarco; for the return, the stop is practically in front of the Fondazione's entrance in via Brembo, take the 79 in the direction of the MM3 Lodi/TIBB)

(2) Instead, you could take the 24 tram heading south, and get off at Via Lorenzini, which Brembo becomes in the other direction


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cookies of the non-edible kind

A message about the use of cookies on this site (blogger, owned by Google), which I use for my blog, just popped up on me.

This is a message directly from Google, and has nothing to do with me.

Just so you know.

"Il Massimo del gelato": among the top two or three cosmically best gelati I've ever had

Love gelato? Coming to Milan?

On a cross street of Corso Sempione, so a bit off the beaten path, but still in Milan's center: "Il Massimo del gelato" at Castelvetro 18.

VERY thick. VERY creamy. VERY tasty.

If not THE best gelato I've ever had, it certainly belongs in the top two.


Monday, July 27, 2015

My little medieval English princess ... a new Anna Maria sculpture for my collection

I couldn't wait to share with you the latest addition to my "Anna Maria sculptures" collection: this little medieval English princess.

Isn't she adorable?

To give you an idea of size, her head is made out of what I think is a hazelnut.

These little sculptures are delightfully whimsical and beautifully and creatively done. I'm always tickled pink when she gives me one. Love them!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Museo of the Cultural Patrimony of the Cappuccini Monks

The Museo dei beni dei Cappuccini in via Antonio Kramer, 5, is just a skip away from downtown.... More......

Easy to reach - it's just around the corner from Piazza Tricolore where the 54 bus passes - the museum is worth a trip if you're interested in the history of the order or of Milan, or in learning more about the Cappuccini church in which Lucia took refuge in the famous 19th century book "I promessi sposi" (The Betrothed) by Manzoni.

When I visited, there were a couple of in-theme pieces by art students at Milan's famous Brera art school temporarily included among the exhibited works. Nice touch.

One artistic beauty in the museum stands out, and combines with the general interests of the museum in the cultural and historical patrimony of the order: the gorgeous 16th century ivory crucifixion found in the study of San Carlo Borromeo, a Milanese fundamentally important in the renewal of the Catholic church after the Protestant Reformation.

The museum is small, but well-laid out. A nice visit will take only about 45 minutes to an hour, and that is if you look at everything. Handicapped access is available, especially if you call in advance: 02.7712.2321.

The entry fee is as reasonable or as generous as your donation warrants. When I visited, it was possible to choose between donating directly to the museum, or donating to a fund to feed the homeless, an activity of the attached Franciscan church (Cappuccini are a reformed order of the Franciscans, as their didactic material explains).

The only drawback? The visiting hours are very limited, and vary somewhat from season to season. At the time of this writing, they were only on Tuesday from 2:30 to 6:30 P.M. and on Wed./Thurs. from 2:30 to 5:30 P.M.

Hmmm, two drawbacks. Now that I think of it, there wasn't material in English, I don't think.


Via Antonio Kramer, 5

Web site in Italian

Friday, June 26, 2015

Visiting Milan for Expo and need a doctor or dentist? Milan's public health system to the rescue!

Loving Milan and Expo? I hope so, but what if (tieh! tieh!, the Italians would say, to ward off the evil eye) you need a doctor or a dentist?! What to do?...More......

Something serious, or after midnight?! Go to the nearest ER, called a "Pronto Soccorso" (pronunciation: pron-toe so-CORE-so)

Need an ambulance? Use a local phone to call 118.

If the problem crops up during the daytime, and you don't think you need either an ER or an ambulance, Milan's public health system comes to the rescue!

Centrally located in via Rugabella at n. 4 between Corso di Porta Romana and Corso Italia, not far from Piazza Missori (exit: Piazza Missori), the outpatient clinic accepts walk-ins from 8 AM to midnight until the close of service on the 31st of October. The hours for some specialized services differ somewhat. Tel.: 02.5799.3913.

Costs? If you're a public health system card-carrying Italian or citizen of the European Union, there is no charge for the initial walk-in evaluation medical visit. The costs for further treatment are regulated according to your local public health system charges.

For all others, the cost for the evaulation visit is Euro 50.00, payable also by credit card. The cost for any other treatment? ASK.

Want more info? Go to this Italian, download the English language pdf. (OMG, why don't they have native speakers do the translations...there are so many in Milan. It's embarrassing to read "rates exposed," instead of "displayed," as if they were a group of flashers.)'s better to stay well! Bring a sweater to Expo, you'll need it for the freezing interiors contrasting with the scorching exterior temps and sun, for which you'll need a sun hat. Bring a plastic bottle of water (glass and cans not allowed). There are two stands, one pretty much at each end of the promenade, that offer free tasty drinking water.

Enjoy! I did!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Another public transportation strike scheduled (sigh) for the 24th of June, 2015--CANCELLED! (Yeah!)

(BOOOOOOOOOO to the strikers!)

This Wednesday, the 24th of June, a local public transportation strike could won't take place in Milan from 8:45 AM to 3 PM, and then again from 6 PM until the end of service.

If we're lucky, though, because of EXPO the governor will forbid this strike at the last minute, as he did the other one that had been scheduled.

Please, trade unions, bide your time until Expo is over. It's only a few months, and you're not getting good PR for yourself, really, you aren't.

UPDATE: according to (in Italian), CUB-the one trade union that hadn't signed the "no strikes during Expo" agreement with ATM, had been responsible for calling, and then -- whew! -- calling off the strike.

They are protesting exactly what is making Expo function better, and which should be kept year 'round: SLIGHTLY longer hours for the functioning of SOME of Milan's principal public transportation lines.

Come on, guys. A self-respecting metropolitan city keeps its public transportation lines running until at least 1 A.M. Otherwise, it's so hard to get back home after dinner and a movie without stressing that I, for one, just avoid it (and that means less money circulating).

Summertime outdoor (recent) films and fresh evening air...but bring anti-mosquito spray! (and...)

Looking for something fun to do to cool off, after a hot Milanese summer day?

The Anteo is offering evening films...More...... three outdoor locations in Milan: the Arena, a place near Porta Genova and in the little known cloister of the Incoronata (Porta Garibaldi area, a beautiful Renaissance church, by the way).

The prices are reasonable (about E. 7), sometimes concerts precede the films.

Evening outdoors in Milan? Lather yourself with anti-mosquito spray.

Some of the locations may have you sitting directly on the ground. Pillows for less naturally well-padded behinds may be in order. Bad backs? How about bringing one of those seatless backrests usually reserved for the beach? Get comfy!

Go here for the intro page (all in Italian, I fear), and where you can download the (Italian) pdfs of the location programs.


(P.S., I snapped this picture for your personal non-commercial viewing pleasure. For all other uses, please contact me for my permission, first, thanks.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A delightful evening of classical Indian dance in Milan: the Accademia Sangam end-of-the-year show

Milan is becoming more and more openly multi-cultural.

When I first came here from a large metropolitan multi-cultural city...More......

...more than twenty years ago (gulp), there were a few Chinese on the streets, though they mostly kept to Chinatown, and a few Tunisian ladies, who were maids or nannies.

Years ago, I remember catching myself staring at some very very black men at a train station, and I realized why I had been staring...I just hadn't seen any black people in donkey's years.

Now the inhabitants of the city--whether the Milanese like it, or not--are very multi-cultural, for one reason, or another. Time will aid integration...the more the kids mix in the school system and grow up, together, the better it is.

In the meantime, the Indian Consulate in Milan and the Association of Indians in Northern Italy are doing a lovely job of promoting Indian culture to the Italians, and it is through them that I discovered dott.ssa Lucrezia Maniscotti and her classical Indian dance school, Accademia Sangam. Lessons are held regularly in Milan and Monza, and I see that something is also planned for Mantua.

"So what?!," you say, "I'm not interested in learning to dance."

As an Italian would reply, "Male!" ("Bad/Wrong answer!").

But what if your physical condition doesn't allow you to take it up, even just for fun and exercise (even a non-expert like me can see that even the quieter movements require great control, strength and balance)? You're still in luck.

The school has a couple of public performances a year, and the general public is invited.

It's a super way to enjoy classical Bharatanatya Indian dance and support not just the school's efforts, but principally to give encouragement to the students ranging from very young to mature adults. Contact the school for more info and to be put on their mailing list.


PHOTOGRAPHS: I snapped the pictures during last evening's end-of-the-academic-year show for your personal non-commercial enjoyment. In the first picture, dott.ssa Maniscotti is in the foreground. For any other use of the photographs, my permission, the permission of dott.ssa Maniscotti and of those appearing in the photograph are needed.

REMINDER: I get no kickbacks of any kind for talking about products and services.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's not in Milan, but it sure was SCRUMPTIOUS: Gelateria del Corso, Prato

Met a dear friend in lovely Prato. If you haven't been, here's another reason to go: heavenly gelato.


In fact, it was so heavenly that I didn't even get a picture of the place or the gelato. We were too busy savouring.

The gent that served us was chipper and informative...a younger brother of the owners.

GELATERIA DEL CORSO, via Mazzoni, 12 (just down the street from the Duomo), Prato - tel. +39.380.6410709

The picture's captured from their web site (only in Italian...), and I can assure you that what we ate was a delicious as the ice creams in this picture look.

Usual CAVEAT: I get no kickbacks of any kind for any of my endorsements...they're all heartfelt, and for your enjoyment.

Friday, June 12, 2015

What to do with the kids this weekend, 13-14 June 2015?! Disney at Parco!

Even if you're not all that pro-Disney, maybe your kids are, and, what the heck, it's free...

Saturday and Sunday, the 13th and 14th of June, from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M., at Parco Solari near the MM2 Sant'Agostino stop: Disney Junior 2015 tour.

(Info in Italian)


Hungry at the Stazione Centrale in Milan?

Want a snack or something more substantial to cart around town with you while you visit? On your way home, late, and too exhausted to stop at your local supermarket? On your way out of Italy, and you realize in a moment of panic that you still haven't gotten a gift for your crotchety elderly aunt?

Rescue is in sight, a supermarket has returned to the Stazione Centrale in Milan (yeah!).

Same place as before (underground floor, on the extreme left when exiting from the metro), but this time, both practical and offering SAPORI & DINTORNI products, good for gifts, too.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Expo2015...should you go? My answer: "Yes!"

Expo2015...take a sun hat, a sweater for those chilly exhibits and a big plastic bottle of water.... More......

Like exotic food? Get the very yummy plate for only Euro 10 at the Bangladesh exhibit in the rice area (though you'll have to find somewhere else to sit), and... sure not to miss Estonia's personal favorite. Swing, and find out how much energy you generated. Spin a grinding wheel to spin the info on the screens. Dash around on a stationary bike with the video road in front of you. Slip into a poplar (?) forest. Put your aching feet up for a few minutes while you lounge on a gigantic cushion surrounded by honey colored wood and plants. One of the best integrations of the country's culture, the use of space and technology and Expo's themes, in my opinion.

My second favorite? Poland. Why? Can't tell you. Don't want to ruin the surprise.

Unsuccessful exhibits? Of course there are, but I'm not going to share my list of them with you...don't want to influence you, unduly. My yardstick? See the closing comment about Estonia, above.

Hot and tired in mid-afternoon? Plunk yourself down on a cushion in the shade under Turkey's gazebo. You can even get some baclava (though it's pricey, at Euro 3).

Want something for the kids? There's a Chicco and a Kinder area, as well as video games and buttons to push and levers to pull scattered throughout the exhibits.

Mobility problems? You can get an electric cart.

What else can I tell you without ruining any surprises?

It was lovely to leave troubles behind (we all have them), and slip into the wonder of childhood, even if just for a long, exhausting, but satisfying day. Even enjoyed the "Tree of Life" light show, but be sure you get there early enough to get a good seat. The seats balance on a conical point...interesting experience, and perhaps purposeful to help us remember the precarious nature of our environment and the fragility of life. Or maybe they were just big red plastic pointy chairs.

The day passed much more quickly than I had expected. And I was there from morn to night.

Thinking about going after 7 PM to spend only Euro 5 to get in? Good deal. Lots to see from the main streets, and there are restaurants and bars open, but many of the exhibits are closed. Forewarned is forearmed.


(My photo of the upstairs area of the Estonia pavilion, snapped on Friday, June 5, 2015)

Milan is not a trash can (revisited)

Milan is not a trash can. There, I've said it.

Some actions, such as throwing stuff away in trash cans, take such little effort, and yet yield such an enormous benefit, that why more people aren't civic-minded on such a basic level simply boggles my brain. Do you know how long it takes for your wad of gum, the cellophane wrapping of your cigarette pack, or your cigarette butt to degrade...if ever?...More......

Depending on the local conditions (exposed to the air and elements, or sealed away in a dry place?), your piece of gum may take around five years to degrade (all the while collecting filth, and turning a nasty ugly dirt black peppering sidewalks, walkways and pavements...and costing us all--that includes YOU--extra money just to clean it up that could have been spent better elsewhere), while the paper and tobacco of your cigarette butt may take up to about TEN YEARS to degrade--releasing their toxic chemicals into the environment all the while--while the filter and the cellophane wrapper, made up of a kind of plastic,...well, we all know how fast plastic degrades...maybe never, maybe in hundreds, or even thousands of years.

"It's only one piece of gum/cigarette butt," I hear you say. Maybe.

But how many times have you flicked a cigarette butt onto the street, or onto the railroad tracks, and how many smokers around you are doing the same thing?

This is not an anti-smoking campaign.

We're adults, and should be able to decide for ourselves in a way that doesn't impinge on others' health. (My non-smoking doesn't affect the smokers' air, but the smokers' smoke does affect my air. There's the rub, isn't it? If smokers had been politer, and had asked more often, I don't think the situation would have gotten as emotionally charged as it is, and, now that I live surrounded by more smokers than before, I've learned to "chill out" in the open air, but still would prefer to taste my food, not someone's smoke, in a restaurant. I think that's fair, though I'd like to add that I'm not happy that some of my health care-destined tax money is paying for consciously self-inflicted problems, such as smoking, exaggerated obesity, or high-risk sports, either...whew, now that's off my chest, too.)

It's not even a "Think Green" campaign. (Though there are some simple things we all can do to help, even if only a little.)

It's my anti-litter soap box. (No pun intended, but it's a good one.)

What to do if there's not a trash can around?

Keep the gum wrapper to wrap the gum in, and put in in a pocket, or purse, til you get to a trash can.

Put the cellophane wrap of your cigarette pack in your pocket, or purse. (It's SO HEAVY and SO AWKWARD a shape, I know, I know, but be a sport, and just do it.)

Put out the cigarette carefully, and put the butt in the cigarette tray of your car. In lieu of a nearby trash can, wrap it in a gum wrapper, or a "portable" ash tray (I swear, I just saw these on the internet, they're little foil-like pieces of paper). Put it in one of the chic little portable "old-fashioned" cigarette butt containers, no bigger than the palm of your hand.

Cityscapes that make us go "aaaaaahh," instead of "arrrrrgggh," are in our own hands.

Please be a good sport, and cooperate.

Want more info? Try these links for starters:

(Originally posted 25 August 2010, now that Expo is in full sway and the summer holidays are around the corner, it's a good idea to propose it, again...I think it's the first time that I've repeated a post.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Freebies entrance to (state-owned) Italian museums on the first Sunday of every month: extended, yeah!

Congratulations to MiBAC-Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo for extending this great offer:...More......

...freebies entrance to state-owned museums on the first Sunday of every month. Great especially for families large and small.

Check out the list of participating museums organized by region then museum on their website (alas, only in Italian, but it shouldn't be hard to understand the list).

The page opens and you think it's not the right one? Scroll down below the video boxes for the list.


(The image was captured directly from their website.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It's June 2...what to do in Milan?!

It's going to be a nice day, come on!, get up off the couch and out into the fresh air!

Milan's beautiful late...More......

...Renaissance city hall, Palazzo Marino, once a private mansion that broke the mighty coffer of its builder, offers rooms newly open to the public. From 10 A.M. to 8 P.M., it will be possible to go (you might have to stand in line, let the visitor beware). Where? Piazza della Scala.

The line for the mansion looks a bit too long? Then try the one for the mid to late 19th century multi-use complex (and you thought malls were inventions of our own day! Heck, there were already shopping streets with covered porticoes as far back at least as the ancient Roman empire...even in Milan!), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Very recently, the upper catwalks have been opened to the general public. The entrance is at via Silvio Pellico 6 on the other side of the Galleria from the Piazza della Scala. Hours? From 10 A.M. 'til 6 P.M., groups of 25 will leave on the half hour.

These visits, though not with these hours, will continue to be available. Stay tuned!

What could be a better way to spend time with the family: beauty, history and (hopefully!) good company, all rolled up into one!

Enjoy! And Happy Birthday, Italy!

Monday, June 1, 2015

More strikes on their way...sigh...

Wondering about strikes in Italy?

Here's the scoop--focusing on Milan--taken directly from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Transportation's web site (in Italian):

--Wednesday, 3 June, national strike of some train workers from 9:01 A.M. until 5 P.M.

--Thursday, 11 June, ATM-public transportation in Milan for 24 hours (usually 8:30 A.M. to 3 P.M., 6 P.M. until the end of service)

--Monday, 15 June, Malpensa and other Italian airports, 24 hours

--Tuesday, 14 July, Traffic controllers at Malpensa airport, 1 - 5 P.M.

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Italian handicrafts display in the historic downtown of Milan, today 31 May, from 10 AM to 7 PM

Enjoy a lovely spring day and traditional Italian handicrafts, today, in historic downtown Milan's Palazzo Giureconsulti from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M.

Don't know where that is?

Head to the piazza del Duomo, look......More...... the direction of the Sforza Castle, spot the late Renaissance building on the corner with a tall tower, and head to it. You're there!

Entrance is free, and you'll have the chance to see live demonstrations, talk with the artisans and, ahem, even buy their great stuff.

Take the kids so they can be inspired and informed while having fun.

Go on, be prepared for once for upcoming birthdays and that last-minute unexpected gift!

Want more info AND you read Italian? Here's the MilanoToday article.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hurry, it's closing on the 4th of June: "I'll Be There Forever. The Sense of Classic" at Palazzo Cusani

Sponsored by Acqua di Parma and curated by Cloe Piccoli, "I'll Be There Forever. The Sense of Classic" explores not classic style, but...More......

...the essence of what makes a classic by juxtaposing contemporary and multimedia works with the historic interiors of Giovanni Ruggeri's Palazzo Cusani.

The first work to confront the viewer is the gigantic work by Diego Perrone, which seems to dialogue smartly with the surroundings, now the private club of military officials. Large white cannons - in color harmony with the courtyard - seem to threaten you as you pass through the street portal, but as you move around this super-size sculpture, the object turns into what looks like a gigantic garden fork. Food for thought (no pun intended, not even an EXPO reference). That is, until I read the title "Fusion of the Bell" (2007) and what the artist intended by it in the free booklet (Italian and English): a reference to the age-old tradition of casting bells. You decide how you want to interpret it.

The first room - stifling hot, take a fan - hosts the projected "Hidden Conference" trilogy of Rosa Barba that juxtaposes works of art from antiquity to the present in rapidly changing still and moving images projected onto ca. 6 foot tall by 12 foot wide screens, so that even the passing visitor or guard becomes a part of this evanescent glimpse at works seen and unseen, wrapped, stored or visible. Even the large projectors positioned around the room contribute to the sense of the past in the present with their ever constant clicking and humming. The room is completely dark to favor the vision of the films, so there is no evident dialogue with the interior.

The second room, the Garibaldi room, is quite literally a breath of fresh air, but the light coming from the tall windows interacts delightfully with the glass paste sculptures also by Diego Perrone. This, for me, was perhaps the most traditionally laid out display, yet the interaction of the pieces and the light of the room was one of the most successful, I thought.

The room with the photographs was, for me, a great disappointment, but it's not the artist's fault. Armin Linke, according to the little guide provided, was exploring the strata of cultures and time, but the picture on the PR material enticing me to come to the exhibit had led me to believe that I would be seeing THE Laurana sculpture, and not a photo of it. He's one of my favorite Italian Renaissance sculptors, his pieces transmit such beauty and peace. I was really disappointed. Now that you know, you’ll be able to evaluate Linke's installation better than I.

In order not to hurt feelings, ruffle feathers, and influence you unduly, I'll say no more. IMHO, some of the installations are quite successful, others so-so, and others not at all, and, since the PR material intrigued me with the idea of a multi-media installation, I would have liked an olfactory interpretation of the classic aspects in each room (if Parma delicately didn't want to push its perfumes, base elements could have been used and explained), but go judge for yourself before it closes much too soon on the 4th of June.

It's well worth the trip, before or after Brera for the art gallery and nearby nibbles.

Palazzo Cusani
Via Brera 15 - Milan
May 15 to June 4, 2015

The web site of the exhibit is pretty useless. The hours are not listed (and, ahem, I forgot to ask, I just showed up), and the arrows that seem to direct one to further information...don't, but here it is in English, anyway: I'll Be There Forever.

Sunday, May 31st, the "Via Lattea" (Milky Way) returns to Milan and surroundings...for some fresh air in the countryside

Cooped up in an office all day? Hemmed in, in the city all week long?

Get out into the countryside for some fresh air...More......

...(bring the kids, too!) together with FAI-Fondo Ambiente Italiano...they take care of what we call "material culture" we can all recognize, such as historic mansions and gardens, but they also take care of "immaterial culture"...habits, customs and traditions, in the case of the Lombard plains: animal husbandry and agriculture.

See the Via Lattea web site for info in English.


P.S., the picture is from the FAI web support them with signing up, if you love Italian history and culture, even if you're not here to enjoy it, physically. It costs about the same as the subscription to a local museum, and you'll help preserve the monuments for when you can come, and for the future.

Thursday, June 4...the first dramatized tour of Milan on a historic tram...don't miss it!

Want an overview of the city while having fun? A history buff, but you have to drag your Significant Other kicking and screaming to cultural stuff?

Drag no more!

Dramatram comes to your rescue...More......

...the first Thursday of every month during EXPO (and, let's hope, after!) first with a dramatized tour in English shortly after lunch, followed by a tour in Italian.

All on one of Milan's historic 1920s trams.

We went on the inauguration trip, yesterday, and it's really quite enjoyable, even for those you who might be familiar with the city's history and monuments.


The first trip is just around the corner, so hurry to get your tickets: Thursday, June 4, 2015.

For info and reservations: Dramatram.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Help! It's Monday, and all the museums are closed! (Not!)

Many museums the world over are closed on Monday. Just so you know.

If you're in Milan, though, there still are some interesting artsy things to see, beginning with any of the many beautiful churches scattered all over town. One heads-up:...More......

...the churches generally close by noon-thirty and don't reopen, again, until around 3 P.M. (The caretaker does have to eat, too, you know. Speaking of caretakers, they cost, too, as does the lighting, maintenance and restoration, so always find the box just for such donations -- restauro - mantenimento -- and be generous, after all, you're visiting it as a museum, not to pray.)

Here's a handy list of museums that are regularly open on Mondays, with some brief info for Mondays. Note that museums generally stop letting people in at least 30-45 minutes before the closing time.


MAPP-Paolo Pini Art Museum (contemporary art), 9:30 A.M. to 4 P.M.
Via Ippocrate 43 (MM3-yellow line to Affori FN)

Holocaust Memorial, 10 A.M. to 8 P.M.
On the right hand flank of the Stazione Centrale (MM2-green line / MM3-yellow line)

MUDEC-Museum of Cultures (cultural context of non-occidental objects), 2:30-7:30 P.M.
Via Tortona, 56 (MM2-green line, then a loooooooong walk down via Tortona)

Brera Observatory and Botanical Gardens, OBSERV.: 9 A.M. - 4:30 P.M., GARDEN: 10 A.M. - 6 P.M.
via Brera 28 (MM2-green line to Lanza)

Museum of Art and Science (ethnic art; the processes and techniques of authenticating art), 10 A.M. - 6 P.M.
Via Quintino Sella, 4

PIME Museum (ethnic art from Catholic missions around the world), 9 A.M. to 12:30 P.M., 2 P.M. - 6 P.M.
Via Mosé Bianchi, 94 (MM1-red line to Lotto)

Museum of the Basilica of St. Eustorgio and the Portinari Chapel, 10 A.M. - 6 P.M.
Piazza Sant'Eustorgio, 3 (trams 9, 29, 30 to Piazza XXIV Maggio, tram 3 to Piazza Sant'Eustorgio)

Poldi Pezzoli Museum, 10 A.M.-6 P.M.
via Manzoni, 12 (MM3 / tram 1 to Montenapoleone)

La Scala Theater Museum, 9 A.M. - 12:30 P.M., 1:30 -5:30 P.M. (If there are no performances, you will be able to go into one of the boxes to see the interior of the theater.)
Piazza della Scala (MM1-red line to the Duomo; MM3-yellow line to the Duomo or Montenapoleone; tram 1 to La Scala)

PAC-Contemporary Art Pavilion, 2:30-7:30 P.M.
via Palestro, 14 (bus 94 / tram 1 to Piazza Cavour)

Treasury of St. Ambrogio, 10 A.M. - noon, 2:30 P.M. - 6 P.M. (many objects have been moved to the Diocesan Museum, but there are still some VERY interesting things to see, and seeing the collection, housed in what used to be the monks' walkway between the monastery and the church, allows you also to see a very precious and well-preserved Early Christian mosaic of the late 4th century A.D.)
Piazza Sant'Ambrogio (trams 16 & 27 to via Monti/via Carducci; MM2-green line to Sant'Ambrogio; bus 94 to via di Amicis/Sant'Ambrogio)

Triennale (modern and contemporary design, temporary exhibits, cafè), 10:30 A.M. - 11 P.M.
Viale Alemagna, 6 (bus 61 - Triennale stop)

Opening the post is my photograph of the exterior of the Portinari Chapel, a "must-see" Milanese Renaissance jewel.

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