Milan

We were supposed to stay with Silvia’s family but they were not at home. Therefore, we stayed two extra days in Switzerland. Due to time restraint, we could only afford a one-day trip in Milan. I was not sure about the attractions in Milan. I had always heard people saying that Milan is a good place to shop. My host Dad showed me pictures of him in Milan. Besides Duomo, I found another interesting place that I wanted to go, which is to see ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci. I searched through many websites to buy the tickets online but I could not get any for the date we would be in Milan. In the end, I booked a half-day tour in Milan, which included a tour to ‘The Last Supper’.

It was sad to bid farewell. Besides, I wasn’t sure when will be the next time I will be seeing my host family again. W took a train to Milan and that journey took us about 4 hours. As we travelled from the North down the South, the weather changed drastically. It was foggy in Zurich but as we headed South, it started to snow heavily. However, as we were near the border of Italy, the weather became sunny. The sunshine welcomed us to Italy! When we reached Milano Centrale, we left our luggages in the locker. The railway station is quite big. There was a market selling food there.

Milano Centrale

We then took the Metro to Cairoli Castello. As I was pressing the touch-screen ticket machine, this Gipsy lady came up and did everything for me. In my head I thought…who is this lady? Why is she wearing like that? Why is she being so helpful? When she tried to grab my money to put into the machine, I sensed something wrong. I inserted the note myself but what I did not expect was for her to grab my change from the machine! At that moment, I felt like being conned! We couldn’t stop talking about that incident for the rest of the day! As we learned through a lesson, we said no to every strangers who brought bracelets or flowers to us. NO!

As we came out of the Metro, we found the tour agency and we were still half an hour early. We went to Castello Sforzesco. From outside, it looked more like a fort. For many years, it has represented a symbol of the power in the hands of the Dukes, as well as of the foreign dominators. Only at the beginning of the 20th century the Castle assumed its distinctive role, becoming a place of culture, which hosted numerous Lombard art collections. The Castle was named after Francesco Sforza, who transformed it into a ducal residence in 1450. There was a big coutyard within the four walls. We did not stay long there and I believed this castle was one of the places we would visit with the tour.

Castello Sforzesco

The first stop of the tour was Teatro alla Scala. Unfortunately, we only had time to visit the museum but not the theater itself. The tour guide told us that we could still use the tour sticker to enter the theater the next day but we would no longer be in Milan by the end of the day. Instead of looking around by ourselves in a museum, not knowing the history or story behind each statue or paiting, being on tour means a tour guide would explain all the important sights. Teatro alla Scala is a world renowned opera house. Most of Italy’s greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala during the past 200 years. In the past, this theater was a grand architecture but nowadays with modern buildings being built around it, it did not look as grand as it used to be.

Teatro alla Scala

Museo Teatrale

Piazza della Scala

Just directly opposite of Teatro alla Scala, the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II connects Piazza della Scala with Piazza del Duomo in grand style. Shopping is, and always has been, the Galleria’s main activity, and fashion flagships radiate out from the twin powerhouses of Prada and Louis Vuitton in the centre. The ceiling vaults are decorated with mosaics representing Asia, Africa, Europe and America. At ground level are mosaics of more local concerns, such as the coats of arms of Vittorio Emanuele’s Savoia family, and the symbols of Milan (a red cross on a white field), Rome (a she-wolf), Florence (an iris) and Turin (a bull). All of us spinned twice on our heels on the bull’s privates. The guide told us that is was for good luck.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Tourist spinning on the symbol of Turin

Entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from Piazza del Duomo

As we came out to Piazza del Duomo, I was captured by the unique and really grand cathedral. I have not seen anything as noble as this. It looked magnificent, especially as the light of the sunset reflected on it. We had the opportunity to go inside as well. Although it was quite dark inside, it did look splendid. There was a ceremony going on while we were there but we did not stay long. I felt it a bit rush but we were on tour and always being in a rush in a norm.

Duomo

Interior of Duomo

Piazza del Duomo

After that, we went to Castello Sforzesco. The sun had almost set when we got there. We had some time to have some snacks to fill our stomachs.

The last stop at Santa Maria delle Grazie was the reason I joined a tour in Milan. The Last Supper is a 15th century mural painting created by Leonardo da Vinci. It represents the scene of The Last Supper when Jesus announces that one of his twelve apostles would betray him. The painting measures 450 × 870 cm and covers an end wall of the dining hall at the monastery. It specifically portrays the reaction given by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would betray him. All twelve apostles have different reactions to the news, with various degrees of anger and shock. From left to right, Bartholomew, James and Andrew form a group of three, all are surprised. Judas, Peter and John form another group of three. Judas, the betrayer, is wearing green and blue and is the only one in shadow. Both Jesus and Judas reached out for the same plate. Jesus was in the middle. Thomas, James and Philip are the next group of three. Thomas is clearly upset, James the Greater looks stunned, with his arms in the air. Meanwhile, Philip appears to be requesting some explanation. Matthew, Jude and Simon are the final group of three. Leonardo Da Vinci used an experimental technique, known as Tempera Forte, to paint the Last Supper. This allowed him to paint with more nuances than would be possible with a conventional fresco, but already in 1518 it became clear that this technique led to a fast deterioration of the painting. Opposite Leonardo’s masterpiece is a fresco painted by Donato Montorfano. Only 25 visitors can enter at one time and it is advisable to book the tickets before.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Last Supper

We took the Metro back to Milano Centrale and waited for the train to Venice. We bought some bread to eat while waiting for the train. We all slept on the train after a long day!

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