October 23, 2012 – Love in Milan
I don’t know where to start with Milan except perhaps to say that I fall in love immediately. I still can’t put my finger on why. It’s not the Italy I’d always imagined in my head. It’s a city, and I’m not a city girl. Maybe that’s what love is. Something unexpected and startling. Often irrational. Beautiful. The pull of opposites attracting.
It might just be that for some odd reason I’ve given myself more time in Milan than any other place I’ve been in Italy so far. I can relax a bit. Settle in. Take my time.
It might be that the transit system is accessible and easy; making me feel like I know my way around, like I’ve always known.
It might be for the museums decorated with paintings by Tintoretto, Picasso, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, Bramante, Rubens, El Greco, Licini, Cavallino, Carloni or Vecellio.
It might be the perfect coffee that my hostel has as part of its free breakfast.
It might be for the fact that I’m sharing my room with a girl from Turkey who’s been living in a small town near Rimini learning shoe making, and that seems like something out of a fairytale.
It might be for the gorgeous people. The insane fashion. The treacherous high heels. The boys--the pretty boys--who walk with their arms straight, unmoving by their sides as if they’re on a continuous runway. The women who are more beautiful than I can imagine being, who invest time in that beauty where I never would. For all the tall, skinny people.
It might be for the view I get when I climb the steps up to the roof of Milan’s Duomo. For the intricate and elaborate detail on every centimeter of the cathedral. For the gargoyles and the strange faun creatures with their hoofed feet. The spires and staircases. The statues and reliefs.
It might be for the sunshine and warmth despite the forecast’s prediction of all day rain.
It might be for the Vittorio Emanuele II Shopping Gallery where I follow tradition and spin on the bull’s balls for good luck. For the girl who agrees to take my photograph as I spin, and her mother who instructs me in Italian to “Later think about good fortune.” And, for later, whether or not because of that (who can say?), when I get in free to the Pinacoteca di Brera Museum.
It might be for the walking tour I take called In the Steps of Leonardo. For our guide, Lorella, who is a da Vinci enthusiast and history loving storyteller. It might be for the opportunity to see Leonardo’s actual journal pages with my own eyes. For the melding of history with the present through Lorella’s words and the art she shows us as we walk through Milan. For what she quotes from Leonardo when she tells us that photographs are not allowed while viewing The Last Supper. “Leonardo said we have all we need,” she says, “’The eyes to see. The mind to understand. The heart to remind.’”
It might be for the fifteen minutes I get to look at da Vinci’s The Last Supper (“Don’t take your eyes from it,” Lorella tells us). For the feminine beauty of John the Beloved, the surprise of Bartholomew, the questioning expression on Peter’s face and the knife in his hand, the foreshadowing betrayal of Judas Iscariot, the disbelief of all the other disciples. For the great obsession art historians have taken to restore this painting that Leonardo did with an improvised and quicker to deteriorate technique. For my own amazement at being here and seeing this. For having a kind of life luck that came way before I put my heel to the bull mosaic in Vittorio Emanuele II.
It might be for the Castle and the Ambrosian museum where I see Bramantino’s strange painting Madonna delle Torri with the devil as a dead frog and a heretic in human form lying at the Madonna’s feet.
It might be for the statues or the Museo Astronomico. For the Biblioteca Nazionale with its honey-dark shelves lined with books. For the flowers. For the fountains. For the street performers. For church tower clocks.
It might be for all these reasons combined.