Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 17: Milan

Day 17:  Milan

POTD:   You're welcome: De nada (same as Espanol, probably not pronounced the same)

Weather: High 60s, low 70s in the sun (and it was sunny all day long)

THB goes to the fitness center, and another American shows up right as THB is finishing riding the exerbike while watching the Giro de Italia (a bike race over a number of days), with no clue as to who the top riders were because the TV “message” overlaid whatever the broadcast was displaying. THB was on the bike because the elliptical made a huge racket.

Breakfast at the hotel (included) of cereal and strawberries and yogurt and a few small pastries and highly diluted decaf (THB suspects this pot of coffee was mssing the beans).

The YTs and DB and THB take a short taxi ride (9E) to Cenacolo Vinciano, aka the Last Supper, at Santa Maria delle Grazie. DB has arranged tickets ahead of time. The painting (or fresco), fills one entire “short” wall of a rectangular room, with a disciple of DaVinci’s version of the crucifixion on the opposite wall. Both are pretty washed out, and we have the worst guide in the world: she is bored, hard to understand, and without any redeeming value. It’s early Saturday morning; that is just an excuse THB made up. I guess the job requirement for telling visitors to Italy about one of the two most famous images in the world doesn’t list enthusiasm.

From here we walk the hood to see several other well-known sites:

Chiesa Di San Maurizio al Monastero  Maggiore

There are two distinct sections of the church

Roman wall ruins

Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (there’s an event going on at the University, and college age types are streaming towards us)

So we head around along the fringes of the University: 

To the real target, the Basilica San Ambrogio

Basilica S. Ambrogio, where’s there’s a wedding going on so we can’t get access. So instead you get what Milanese are wearing to a wedding (we couldn't stay to see the bride arrive,; if you want to order a dress #THBasfashionguide):

And, towards 10:45, we part ways: YTs to go shopping, THB and DB to chase more art. It’s a short walk to a large design museum, one setting for the Triennale di Milano going on all over town over several months. What a great stop: a number of exhibits, plenty to see including some art jewelry, and a brief stop for mini-pizzas, water and a café shokurato (a shot of espresso shook mightily with ice) for THB. It even included a Dan Flavin knock-off set of restrooms!

Smart heated towel racks

We’re getting a bit weary, it’s not quite time for lunch and there’s a local ceramics gallery DB has found, so we walk about 10 minutes and we’re at Officine Gallery, which has a show by Kati Tuominen-Niityla and we fall hard for one of her large “bowls” and make the purchase. The young woman at the gallery doesn’t know how to finalize the deal, and the owner is “20 minutes away” so we leave our contact and credit card information and head back to the hotel to refuel and meet the YTs for our 2pm launching time for the afternoon’s events.

Buffet lunch in the hotel works well on two levels: we need fuel right away and don’t want to order off the menu; and the 66E lunch will go against the 100E credit (or is it $100 credit) that comes with the Amex booking.

At 2pm, the YTs meet us and we meet our driver for the afternoon. He’s driving the same car that THB drives (now) at home: 350 E Class Mercedes. Our first stop is the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca temporary exhibit space. Hangar is right, the place is huge. And, full of great art.

A giant structure made out of recycled materials:

A stupendous Anselm Kiefer installation of huge “bombed out” structures (including his signature lead books) and extremely large paintings (with his signature sunflower seeds imbedded). Kiefer is one of THB’s top artists, we saw an exhibition of his at the Gehry Guggenheim in 2008 that also was tremendous, along with many other pieces. This one is oppressive and intimidating, very strong art.

Three dimensional, the scales are hanging off the painting

Kiefer's trademark lead books in between sections

Here’s a sampling of some of the other pieces:

THB getting fitted with 3D goggles that turn everything upside down

You can book two beds and spend the night; the bed is moving!

Plus, THB buys his first t-shirt of the trip: 23E.

Our driver is awaiting our return, and we shuttle to the Fondazione Prada, a series of buildings also housing temporary exhibits, one of which we had seen before in late 2011 or early 2012 in LA: Edward Kienholz’s Five Card Stud (the exhibit is named after the shocking installation). There are a few other interesting pieces, one a talking robot that is semi-life like. 

The namesake installation: it's dark, a rape scene, and THB gets only an impressionistic shot

A car containing the US Supreme Court

Our third installation is the Dan Flavin installation, installed in 1997, at the Chiesa di Santa Maria Annunciata in Chiesa Rossa. 

Dan is one of THB’s least favorite artists (so we’re going from top to middle to bottom), and sure enough since the church is surrounded in light Dan’s installation does not have the impact as it would if it was dark out (which doesn’t happen here until around 10pm and the exhibit is only “open” from 4-7pm). The pics are better than the in-person experience, the opposite of what almost always happens

The mobs have overtaken the roads and it takes us nearly a half hour to return to the hotel though THB swears we are within a few miles (this is centro Milan, so there are no straight roads anywhere, nor any that are traffic-free). Walking wouldn’t have been any better as the sidewalks are crammed as well. We’re back around 6pm, which gives the four of us a chance to rest up (YTs have used the transit time to take jet lag naps).

At the hotel, we get a call from the owner of Officine Gallery and we agree that a wire transfer will work better, we can arrange that when we get back to E-ville.

Dinner is at 7:30 at the very nearby Bagutta: THB and DB share a starter of raw artichokes and cheese (a dish THB also makes at home, this one is excellent), frites and a whole branzino (another dish we get at home, this one is comparable) and a slice of Nonna’s cake (lemon filled tart); YTs share fried calamari (terrific), linguine with clams and sauteed porcine mushrooms. With two reasonably priced bottles of wine and the cover, it comes to 255E (which makes THB think that last night’s meal was closer to that range than 150E).

In two nights we have a welcome dinner and a going-away dinner: the YTs are off to Zurich for a few nights and then to Africa to chase wild animals and THB and DB are doing a week at Opera02 in Modena (sort of between Milan and Bologna).

Shots from around town:

Time to update the sign with a smart phone

Utility box

Two utility boxes!


Forest high rise

THB will not be driving this one either

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