I have to start out today’s post with a confession of sorts (seeing as how I am in the land of oober religious crap and all). The last few days have worn me down. I had been moving so much through the first half of my trip, sitting for several days in Santorini was both welcomingly restorative and paradoxically irritating. Being in a place that was so remote can give the soul space to breathe and move, but can also make you feel completely land locked at the same time. I realized that I spend way too much time thinking about people that piss me off versus the people in my life that I love and care for. I have a new game now to catch myself ruminating about a-holes, then gently remind myself to wonder about how one of you are doing or where you are or worry if everything is okay in your lives instead. I also realized that I have no fear about my present moment circumstances, yet total fear surrounding stories and bulls**t conversations I make up in my head. Of course, I have a lot of time these days to keep myself company and the stories I can make up are definitely interesting, but they have worn out their welcome.
There was a certain liberation that came with this realization and then a sense of impending doom followed shortly thereafter. Having no fear has its good and its bad parts. Lack of fear is what propelled me to take this little adventure in the first place, but then I landed me smack dab in the middle of the riots in Athens (causing my poor parents a tremendous amount of angst – sorry!). This led to my awareness that I have spent most of this journey riding on faith – THIS is faith – that things will work out when I get to wherever I am going and I don’t really need to know much more than where I am right now (and possibly 3-feet in front of me). The past few days I have just trusted that I would make it from Santorini to Athens to Milan, that at some point I would get there, and I did. Much of the trip, I have booked train tickets 5-minutes before I leave the station, or a hotel an hour before I arrive, with little concern as to the outcome because it will be the same regardless – I will get there, I will find somewhere to stay, I will probably get lost looking for my hotel, have to back track, and then eventually find it – “no problem” (This the #1 most heard phrase thus far in all of Europe….no coincidence I think).
Today was no different, then, in my “helter-skelter, I am just gonna wing it” plan. After arriving at my hotel yesterday evening, I realized that I should probably think about getting a ticket for the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum in order to view Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper because it was really the only reason that I flew into this ugly ass city. (Why is it that the Fashion Capital of the World looks like it was plucked straight from the USSR circa 1982 and slammed into Northern Italy?) I asked the gentlemen at the front desk about getting tickets, and they said it was sold out until November. WTF?! I am not sitting in Milan until November! (first no Acropolis and now no Last Supper?! Maybe my luck had turned after all….POOP I say!) They gave me the phone number of a tour company that I could call to see if they had any spots left on their city tour which included a ticket to view the Last Supper. After I got to my room, I tried to call the number a few times, but no answer. “No problem” I told myself, I decided I would get up early this morning and head over to the Museum ticket office (45 minutes away by subway) to see if anyone either cancelled or no showed. I didn’t have anything else better to do, so why not, right?!
So, I woke up nice and early…..at 9am….ate breakfast in the shitty cafeteria of the hotel, then jumped on the subway to Cenacolo. When I walked into the ticket office, posted there was a big sign “No Tickets. No Cancellations.” I pretended that I was illiterate and walked up to the desk to ask about tickets anyway. Sometimes, playing dumb has its advantages; I must remind myself of this. The man behind the desk said ONE ticket was available but only for 12:15pm (it was now 10:52am) – SOLD, Senorge! I purchased the ticket then ran gleefully back outside and once around the Piazza with the all of the other little kids. I was so, so grateful to be able to see the artwork that I started crying (of course) and I hadn’t even seen the damn painting yet! After my lap around the square, I immediately walked into the church that houses the Monastery where the painting was done, caught the end of mass (where we say my FAVORITE part), said a big thank you to the Universe, and then went across the street for a cappuccino while I waited (like I really needed any caffeine, but whatever).
At high Noon, I left the café and crossed back over to the Museum to stand in the queue in order to see this legendary piece of work. You would have thought I was waiting to see the Rolling Stones as giddy as I was standing there, well bouncing around from foot-to-foot is more like it. At 12:15pm, the man came in the room to scan our tickets – only 25 people are allowed into the room where the painting was done at a time. Then, you all get corralled into another smaller glass room where the doors shut behind you. It’s all very Mission Impossible like when the next set of doors open and the entire group of people is herded from one room to the next and again the doors shut behind you. From there we waited forever until the final set of doors opened and we were now free to view the LAST SUPPER!!!! Wow, wow, W-O-W! I ran right up to the front of the room and just stood in awe, then said (with my best five-year-old outside voice possible) “There is no WAY that is John! Definitely Mary – the figure is way too feminine to be a dude!” To which everyone started at me like I had the bubonic plague – probably because they didn’t speak English (at least that is what I am going with).
It amazing how fragile the painting is, the paint fades rather quickly – hence the need for all of the rules. There was no way I was going to sneak a picture of this one, so the best I can show you is the picture of the work that is hung in the hallway on the way out of the viewing area. Da Vinci experimented with a new technique when he painted the Last Supper for Duke Ludovico Sforza, which allowed him to work slowly and paint over things as needed, but it also made the painting very fragile to the elements. It has been
restored something like 17 times, the last one being in 1999. On the south end of the room is another painting of the Crucifixion, but it gets little air time next to the great master and goes by pretty much unobserved at the opposite end of the hall. (Poor guy who painted it – who ever that was).
The fifteen minutes we were allotted to view the artwork sailed by and before I knew it I was back out in the plaza and in the direction of downtown to tour the Duomo di Milano, Castello Sforzesco and another monument to the Great Vittorio Emanuele. The Duomo is the 2nd largest church in Italy (next to the Vatican – since it was the capital at one time) and you can walk on the ROOF! That was awesome – and totally fun to see all of the people who are afraid of heights freak out (if you know you are afraid of heights, WHY would you go up on a giant roof with no safety harnesses or railings and crap?). After seeing the interior of the Basilica, I was conned out of another 4-euros to go to the basement and see the Baptistery that was constructed in the 4th century – along with the original church. It was kiiind of cool, but not as cool as the Last Supper – and that only cost 6.50 – damn Catholics are scam artists I tell you!
The Castello was nice, mostly because it had a huge park behind it where many people were out enjoying the beautiful fall weather here. It is kind of nice to be in a place that actually has a fall season for more than two weeks, where the leaves slowly change from green to vibrant shades of orange, yellow, deep purples and reds. The smell of roasted chestnuts from the street vendors is everywhere. And people are bundled up as if it were mid-winter. It is 60-degrees people – that is shorts weather in Colorado! But, it gave me a good reason to go tour the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – which is not quite as cool as the monument in Rome, I have to say, but they do like their fashion here in Milan, so instead of a big monument, there are big name designers that you can buy all of kinds of over-priced crap from….Prada is outside my travel budget and over my pay grade, so I decided it was time to head back towards the hotel. I stopped for dinner along the way, but forgot to take pics of it…so I won’t tell you what wonderful things I had to eat. HA!
I now sit here in my hotel, in the middle of the Indian neighborhood in Milan, Italy, full from eating too much spaghetti with clam sauce and oodles of olio (oh damn it slipped out sorry!), thinking of the wonders of the day as I listen to the Latin Music that is bumpin’ up from the Chinese wedding taking place in the Reception Hall downstairs. Isn’t globalization grand?!