Friday, December 27, 2013

9 Hours in Milan ~Brera Gallery, Window Shopping and The Duomo at Christmastime!

On the day before I left Italy, I headed to Milan. I arrived at around 3pm, and knew I didn't have much time. You see, I had to get to my hotel, check in, get organized, have a power bar, and head to the Brera Gallery. 

Here's a little classical Italian, for you.

I cabbed it to the Brera District, from my hotel, knowing I wouldn't have a lot of time. The Brera Art Gallery is at the Palazzo Brera, which it shares with the Brera Academy. Its art collection, is rather extensive, and happens to have several paintings that I studied in art history class. 

Pinacoteca di Brera
Brera Art Gallery, Milan

It's not all that tourist friendly, or easy to find, so I am glad I took a cab. I remembered in a guidebook reading to go up a set of stairs, once you get across the courtyard. They did give me a map of the gallery, but only after I had asked. The gal at the desk was a little pesky, but I didn't let her dampen my mood.

Most museums let you take photographs of their own collections, as long as it is without a flash, but just not the visiting works, that they don't own the rights to.

For instance, with the exception of the Sistine Chapel, which is a chapel, you can take all the photos you want, in the Vatican Museums.

Not so, at the Brera. I didn't realize that, until after I'd taken a couple of photos. This next photo, by the early Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini, was one of them.

Madonna and Child
Giovanni Bellini (1425-1516)

This was a detail, of angels, from a larger icon.

The following are public domain images, I found on Wikipedia. All of them are paintings from the Brera Gallery's collection.

Madonna della Candeletta 
Carlo Crivelli
c. 1490

The Marriage of the Virgin
Raphael c. 1504

Holy Conversation/Brera Madonna
Tempera on panel
Piero della Francesca
c. 1472-1474

This following painting, is often studied in art history classes, for several reasons, including the use of perspective, its balance, as well as its symbolism. Also, it is an example how much art was commissioned by wealthy patrons, who were then painted into the pictures, hanging out with Jesus, Mary, and the gang. See the guy in the armor? He is the one who paid for the painting, Federico III da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino.

Lamentation Over the Dead Christ
tempera on canvas
Andrea Mantegna
completed between 1475-1501

"The Dead Christ" is often discussed in art history classes, because of its extreme and dramatic use of forced perspective, and not idealizing the figures. It is very dramatic and something quite different for the time.

Madonna and child 
Giovanni Bellini
c. 1510

Brera Triptych
Jan de Beer
c. 1515

The Kiss
Francesco Hayez
c. 1859

The Brera District is quite swanky, so when I left the museum around closing, (7:15) I walked around the neighborhood, enjoyed the lights, and looked in shop windows.

Eventually, I made it out onto Via Ponte Vetero. Check out the prices on this "to go" food. Keep in  mind, that the prices are in Euros, so it's even more in dollars. (no idea about the exchange right now.)

I used my "Trip Advisor City Guides" app, on my iphone, to find a place to have dinner. It worked. It pointed me right to a Pizza place on that street, that was reasonable, and full of Italians. All I can tell you, is that I ate the whole thing and forgot to photograph it first. That's what happens when you are running only on a power bar.

This pup jumped into a windowsill, to hang out, while his owner had a chat with some friends.

The Fabriano store on Via Ponte Vitero. Lots of groovy stationery, paper, wallets etc. And, in lots and lots of red, which I love.

More shop windows ...

Now, it was time to make my way to Piazza del Duomo, to the big cathedral. I used the Google Maps app, to figure out where I was, and where I needed to go! I needed to head south ... 

"Best Wishes!" 

I came around a corner and this was my view. The Duomo. It took my breath away!

Piazza del Duomo

I almost started crying. (I know, I keep saying that, but I guess the holidays are extra emotional, with all the spectacular loveliness!) It was just so beautiful. Not sure what I expected, but really, this was better.

Next to the cathedral, they had set up booths with all sorts of goodies, and the buildings looked like sparkling Christmas packages!

If you are looking toward the Cathedral, then if you look directly to you left, you see the Gallery Vittorio Emanuele II.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

On the floor, just to the left of the center, (when you walk in the main entrance and you are under the big center dome,) you will find the famous little bull. It's an odd tradition, but you are to place you heel on the bull's ... groin. Then you spin around, on your heel, for good luck or to ward off bad spirits or something.

Apparently, the tradition came about, because the builder died, falling off some scaffolding, before the building was completed, and you are trying to escape the same fate, or something. Anyway, it's a tradition and it's fun, so go for it. It's actually, even more fun watching other people try to spin, in a coordinated fashion, without falling over.

By the time I got there, most of the shops were closed and I think even most of the restaurants, as well.

I took the Milan metro (very easy!) to the metro stop that is also the big Milano Centrale Train Station. When you walked out, there was a huge Christmas tree, and people had written notes and wishes (I think) on all sorts of things ... including train tickets.

This was my tiny, but adorable, room at the Hotel Berna, very near the train station. The buses to the airport leave from there, so it's quite convenient. AND they have a huge buffet breakfast, with excellent coffee. They also ask you ahead of time what kind of pillow you want. Which is great, because in many places you something more like a watermelon, than a pillow.

I stayed there in 2008, as well, and would stay there again. It's really quite convenient, with the ease of location and big breakfast included. (At least mine was, but I would make sure.)

Well, I was going to try to get this post up on Christmas but I was busy watching "Love, Actually" with my parents, after eating a large amount of stew, that my mom and I made. 

This post was from the last night of my trip, but as I mentioned, there are a few things left of Genoa and Piedmont, to share. Still trying to finish blogging this year old trip, before the New Year!

I hope, 
That all of you who celebrate it, 
Had a blessed and beautiful Christmas!
Big hugs and love, 
And many, many blessings to you all!

Buon Natale!

p.s. Sorry about all the typos! I am posting late at night!


Rick Forrestal said...

What a treat!

I did your post just the right way . . . I played the Torelli Christmas Concerto for background music, while I scrolled through your wonderful travelogue.
You have a great eye, by the way.

I love seeing Milan the way you did. The Duomo (wow), Brera Gallery (amazing art), the food, the night time street shopping. You shoot the way I love to see a city -- window scenes, markets, what you've eaten -- as you go, what you see. Fantastico.

Great post. Now I'm ready to travel again.
Buon Natale.

donna baker said...

Milan is a feast for the eyes!

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