Wednesday, October 10, 2007

TCho Walks the Catwalks of Milan

Before I arrived in Istanbul, I spent a couple of days in Milan for a brief shopping excursion. I kind of had a crazy flight itinerary, where I flew from JFK into Istanbul, and then back West to Milan via Frankfurt. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted when I finally got to Milan.

Let me tell you, Milan Malpensa airport is freaking far from the actual city of Milan. By car, it takes about an hour to get to downtown Milan, and the cab fare can be over 100 Euros. The best option to get to downtown is to take the Malpensa Express train, but that had stopped running by the time I landed at around 12:30AM. Well, resourceful me had prearranged a car and soon I was on my way downtown.

Milan is a pretty boring city. Other than The Last Supper and shopping, there is nothing to see or do. I am glad to have seen The Last Supper even though I had to hoof it there to the chapel where it's housed. When I left my hotel that morning, I asked the bellman to point me in the direction of the Santa Maria della Grazie. He kind of pointed left, and off I went. But after a while, I realized I should have asked him to be a bit more specific because I had somehow started walking on a street going south instead of west. I retraced my steps and finally got to the chapel and ran inside, all sweaty and breathing heavy, frantically looking around for a big painting.

The reason for my panic was because you have to make an appointment in order to see The Last Supper, and if you're late, tough. You don't get to see it then unless there's an opening later, which is doubtful. All the guidebooks say you need to reserve your ticket ahead of time and they're right. But what they really mean is "Reserve your ticket before you come to Italy, doofus." There's usually a 4-6 week waiting list.

As soon as I entered the chapel, I was like "Where the fuck is this thing?" I went down the aisle, took a tour of the quick hall, went out to the back to the gardens, passed the gift shop and cafeteria, with no Da Vinci code primer in sight. Finally, when I passed through the gift shop for the fourth time, I dug out my guide book and pointed to a picture of The Last Supper to the old woman gift shop lady, who in turn dug out a post card to show me ANOTHER building that I had no recollection of. My Italian isn't what it used to be (and it used to suck), but even I understood that there was some other mystery building and I was in the wrong one.

I ran outside, and saw the building (actually, I think the correct term is an refectory), and rushed inside. I kind of had to beg and plead, but they finally let me join my group late. Soon enough, I was inside and standing 5 feet in front of The Last Supper.

It was worth the effort and the drama of getting in. There are all sorts of impressive things about The Last Supper. First of all, the thing is freaking big. I don't know what size I thought it was, but I was pretty impressed. Secondly, to hear how that The Last Supper somehow survived during a WWII bombing (the ONLY wall of the building to do so) makes you wonder if there is a such thing as "divine intervention."

Then, finally, you wouldn't be American, if you didn't look for Dan Brown's Last Supper imagery--like whether John is really Mary Magdalene, or who is holding the knife and if there really is a "V" between Jesus and John the Apostle. You can see all that, but it's easy to forget about it all (and plus I hate that book), and just look at all of the figures. You can see the emotion in each of the disciples. It's almost too difficult to describe it. You just need to see it.

The rest of my stay in Milan consisted of shopping and visiting a friend. I bought some nice leather things at Trussardi and Valextra, a pair of pants at Cruciani, and saw a coat at Etro that I would have given my right hand for, but they didn't have my size (sorry for the name dropping.) I also met up with a friend of mine and he showed me around a bit.

My visit ended with a rejection by a Japanese tourist couple. I was walking around the Duomo plaza, the main square in Milan, and asked a Japanese guy if he could take my picture. OMG, the guy just shook his head and walked past me! How fucking rude! Or maybe he was just a master of dark comedy. Who knows.

When I get my ass in gear, I'll have the one picture of me that I did end up taking that day posted here.

More to come from TCho European edition!


teahouse said...

Wow, sounds like a great experience!! Yes, I've also heard that there's not much else in Milan besides that painting and the fashion stuff. And I too hated the stupid Dan Brown book. It was dumb and poorly written!!

Can't wait to see your photos!

Jon said...

Ah, MIlano. A great place to be robbed, lol. I went there in 2003 with a friend. We rented a car and almost got killed- not because of my driving, but I'm not an aggressive enough driver for the Italian roads.

A lot of Japanese don't like unfamiliar situations or embarassing themselves, so maybe he figured it was easier to walk away, though I would have been pissed off as well. Anyway, hope you a good time and I enjoyed reading about it

Ming the Merciless said...

I saw The Last Supper when I was like 10. I'm not boasting.

I was just clueless to the significance of the painting at that age and all I wanted to do was eat potato chips. I was miserable because my parents dragged me to all the museums.

Now I wish I could afford to go back and do all those things.

Christopher said...

FYI...I'm a great travel companion, so lemme know if you're ever in need...

...soooo sorry that we didnt meet up when I was in NYC last week...I thought that your name was on the email that went out...dammit!...well, I'll just have to come back very soon then!

Soul Seared Dreamer said...

Wow... you got to see the Last Supper. Its more infamous now, thanks to the Da Vinci Code.

You didn't answer the most important questions though... whether John is really Mary Magdalene, or if there really is a V between them, in your humble opinion of course.


David said...

Everyone is traveling but me! I hate you all!