June 8, 2019. Our real first day in Milan and a trip to the Duomo. It's the third largest church in Europe , right after St. Peters Basilica in Rome, and the cathedral in Seville, Spain. Amazing in size and scope. I think there are 2,000 statues outside and 3,000 inside...I did not count.The stained glass windows were pretty spectacular and numerous. It took a couple hundred years to build and they are in a constant state of repair / replace. We also went to a piazza in the financial district where they had a public judging of the sculptures that were to go there and I'll let you guess who the winner was. You won't have any trouble analyzing the artists intent, it's pretty clear.
June 9, 2019. A little day trip into Milan and the Sforza Castle. The Castle has many different museums and a lot of it is dedicated to Leonardo DaVinci because he spent a great deal of time there. We usually have to go through Piazza del Duomo to get to most places we want to see. We went by Teatro La Scala and some very Saturday like crowds of tourists, and we continue to struggle with navigation, but that's just part of the adventure. We have the subway fairly well figured out, and not unlike the blind squirrel we occasionally find what we are looking for.
June 10, 2019. The one place in Italy we knew we had to visit again. Up until now it was the only place in Italy we had ever been. More than 30 years ago we had lunch on the shore here and were struck by the beauty, and serenity of this place. We only saw a tiny little slice of it at the time, so we got the chance to take a boat ride this time and see a bit more. The only thing that I know for sure that has changed, is lunch for two cost more than lunch for eight, thirty+ years later. And it was a really good lunch both times.
The big villa that sits out on a point with the well manicured lawn and trees that look like two, big, green mushrooms, reportedly belongs to George Clooney. I would mark that up as guess work because it was probably the nicest villa we saw and people on the boat were talking about it a lot.
June 11, 2019. Just a real laid back day in Milan. Had to go downtown to a camera store to buy a few more memory cards.Got that done and then had a lovely lunch in a great restaurant on a absolutely beautiful day. It seems that we had just a perfect day, not doing much of anything but walking around the Parco Sempione kind of Milan's Central Park right behind Castello Sforza. What a beautiful place. And up until round 1 pm it could not have been a more perfect temperature with a light cool breeze. Came back home and then went out for Mexican food. What a country.
No matter what your perceptions and preconceived notions of a place happen to be, reality usually changes, or at least reaffirms all of that. Fairly oppressive heat and a crush of tourists can put a damper on anything. Venice is in many places beautiful, unique and for us, maybe worth a second look at some other time of year. I would highly recommend it, September and later. That being said, we did enjoy it in a very limited amount of time that we had. We started by waking up at 4AM to get a taxi at 5AM because there is not much in the way of public transportation that happens before 6AM and a 6:25AM departure from Milan Centrale. I will say that the Italian train system is set up on a very precise and rigid schedule that means absolutely nothing. Departure and arrival times appear to be more like a loose suggestion of what you might like to happen, a wish list if you prefer. You need to roll with the punches, but you will be punched a lot. Here's my photographic take on the city.
June 14, 2019. La Scala is probably the most famous and celebrated opera house in the world. It's right on the end of the Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II near the Duomo. Taking a museum tour or being really good at opera singing, or having a lot of money for a ticket are about the only ways you get to see the inside of this place. As it turns out neither Ginger or I can sing that well, so we picked the tour. They did mention something about being permanently banned from any further auditions.
June 15, 2019. Little trip to the Naviglio Grande. These were canals that the Italians built way back to float up marble among other things for their monumental buildings like the Duomo. Now, it's kind of an eclectic tourist trap with booths that are selling an inordinate and copious amount of stuff that nobody needs. Lots of restaurants, bars, gelato stores, artists, cool places and even a tour boat to take you around.
Another beautiful city , lots of tourists, lots of heat. Since we just happen to be poor planners, we can't see much, because you need a ticket for pretty much everything. If you don't have a ticket reserved days, weeks or sometimes months ahead of time, you are just S.O.L. The other choice is to stand in line for hours in the 90 + degree heat for the few tickets you can get. We are happy to not do that. A little photo expedition in the morning, a really nice lunch in a friendly restaurant, a little siesta and we will hit again this evening.
Last night in Florence for a while, so we decided to go to Piazza Michaelangelo with a couple thousand of our closest friends for a night view of the city.