This suitcase is clearly not big enough....

So, I'm traveling to europe for the trip of a lifetime

day nine:

Mom and Amelia have a complete lack of confidence in my ability to get us to our destination without getting us lost. We set out this morning to start our day at the Castello Sforzesco. the castle is a pretty spectacular example of fourteenth century castles in Italy.

the interior is entirely made of different museums which is pretty cool. We started with art collection in the civic museum, worked our way through the ancient art museum (I somehow didnt get my fill of ancient and renaissance art while in florence), the Egyptian and prehistoric sections of milan’s archaeological museum (Amelia is not okay with dead bodies by the way. after seeing the popes and several martyrs in the churches in rome one would think she’d be okay with mummys. not so much, they completely freak her out.) and the furniture museum (medieval to modern period. i’m highly unimpressed with the “modern” furniture. amelia really liked the baroque/french style furniture and we were all blown away by the boxes that looked like buildings that had secret locking compartments in addition to normal compartments for people to hide things in. they were really cool looking). 

after spending the morning there we headed down one of the main boulevards towards Milan’s shopping district and il duomo. going towards il duomo from this angle was interesting because you could only catch glimpses of the shining white spires from over the tops of other buildings until you hit the main square thats in front of it. you emerge into the square and the cathedral dominates the view. as well it should considering it is the 4th largest cathedral in the world and the second largest in italy behind st. peters in rome. of course calling it il duomo is kind of a misnomer as duomo means cathedral and is used in reference to all cathedrals. in this case its in reference to the cathedral of Milano.

the entirety of milan circles the duomo which is at the central point of the roman city that formerly existed on the site. construction of the duomo began in the thirteen hundreds and continued for centuries. the installment of the final gate in 1965 is considered the completion of construction on the duomo even though there are still blocks of marble for statues that havent been completed. that means that il duomo was under construction for five hundred and seventy nine years. the end result is pretty spectacular. 

while beautiful from a distance, it is only up close (on the roof) that one can appreciate the thousands of statues that dot the surface of the spires. the white marble all but glows in the sunlight and the contract between the church, the glass galleria and the surrounding greek revival style buildings is sharp. the interior is no less amazing than the exterior; stained glass and sculpture lining the exterior walls, the floor is a design of different marbles and the statue of san bartolomeo as beautiful and horrifying as expected (statue of the saint who was flayed and who stands with his own skin a macabre cloak).

galleria vittorio emanuele II is a shining example of nineteenth century arcades. the cross shaped building’s ceiling is made entirely from glass and on sunny days that is the primary method of illumination. this highlights the pale stone interior facade and the mosaic floor. the shops in the galleria are everything from mcdonalds to prada, gucci and louis vuitton. 

after shopping around there and in the fashion rich streets behind the galleria we called it a day and headed back to the canal area near the hotel for dinner. it turned out to be dinner and a show as as a waiter from the next restaurant over had to chase down a woman who was trying to duck her tab.

Day 2: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi part 2

Day 2: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi part 1

Day 2: Fountain of Neptune

Day 2: Spanish Steps

Day 2: Fontana del Moro

two more and then i’m caught up on daily blog posts. pics will hopefully happen in mass tomorrow night or mid day depending on how much wi-fi on the train is.

day eight:

we started the day somewhat early and headed over to the central market to check out what was for sale there. it was a huge mess of stalls and people selling tourist souvenirs, leather coats, gloves, purses, and scarves. it was really interesting. people were shouting, more than half the people there had dogs with them and we got two purses! amelias is a clutch-esque beige bag and mine is a red leather shoulder bag.

we then had to gather our bags and head over to the train station to catch a train to milan. I messed up something in my elbow hauling mom’s suitcase down the stairs and on and off the train. a vast majority of this train ride was spent in tunnels compared to the one from rome to florence. the land between florence and milan has some hilly areas apparently.

once we got to milan and found the hotel we ended up wandering down to the “canal area” at the recommendation of the woman at the desk. milan, while landlocked, has several cannals from centuries ago. they were used to transport goods from out in the countryside into the city, however only a few of them remain intact. we wandered around for a bit after that, people watching and looking at the stores that were in the area. it was an interesting experience and an indication of how different milan is from florence and rome. florence is a very small city with a very large obviously tourist population. rome is a midrange city with a large tourist population and an equally large local population. milan seems to have far more locals than tourist. while the tourist are obvious, those who are clearly local are a more frequent sight. people are also far better dressed here than other places. it is the fashion capital of the world and that is quite obvious from the state of the clothing we saw.

day seven:

We started the day early at the Galleria della’Academia. Michelangelo’s David is housed there along with his unfinished prisoners sculptures. the galleria also houses many copies of statues ranging in origin date from the roman period through the early twentieth century as well as a collection of medieval art. (i’m so over mid-byzantine era religious iconography after florence)

we split up after lunch. Mom and Amelia went to chill out for a while and I went off to explore the smaller market by the river and wander away from the tourist area. I found a bunch of places where you can stop in and get food to go to eat on the street that I would loved to try for our meals during the rest of our time in florence but Amelia doesnt like to eat standing up so that didnt happen.

We met back up three hours later at the Palazzo Vecchio. we toured the main rooms of the palazzo and saw some impressive art from the mid to late fifteen hundreds (several pieces of sculpture were Michelangelo’s work). the most amazing thing about the palazzo was that it was that after its completion the owner had the builder go back and raise all of the ceilings because he felt that they were too low.

We wrapped up the days events with a trip to the Gucci Museum at Amelia’s request. it basically covers all the elements of gucci’s lines, from its beginnings to current styles with explanations of reoccurring themes and why things are the way they are. she thought it was really cool.

after dinner we ended up hanging out in the Uffizi’s outdoor statue gallery on the piazza (two doors down from the hotel) as there was an orchestra performing in front of the palazzo vecchio (three doors down from the hotel). it was an interesting experience and just about the only music we recognized was the abba medley.

day six:

We started the day early at the Uffizi art museum. Mom and Amelia werent all that excited about it but it was an awesome experience. the Uffizi museum has been around for centuries and they have art that was deposited there three and four hundred years ago by private collectors. This lead to a wide variety of art from all manner of styles stretching from Greek era up through the late eighteen hundreds. thankfully, the Uffizi doesnt have a modern art collection (I really dont like modern art).

After Uffizi, we headed over to the Duomo (Cathedral of Florence). I’ve discovered that its really difficult to extrapolate exactly how large a cathedral is just from looking at the exterior. Yeah, its a big church but it really didnt look as large as it seemed from the inside. Compared to the other large cathedrals that we have visited, the interior of the Duomo is plain. there were some statues, a lot of stained glass and a very large painting in the interior of the dome, but it wasnt as ostentatious as the other churches had been with gold and paintings covering every square inch.

Amelia wanted a time out from all of the history and art so we went over to the Pitti Palace so that she could visit the Costume Museum. she was highly interested in the development and mirroring of styles and trends through the ages and I was interested in the eighteenth century paintings on every ceiling. Period wear is interesting but personally I dont care about clothing.

to get back to the hotel we needed to cross the Ponte Vecchio. the bridge is lined in jewelry shops and sparkles with gold. the bridge had basically been around in some form or another since 996 when it was first mentioned in a document.