Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Day 16: Milan

I woke up to find I had a tickle in my throat which blossomed into a full blown sore throat this afternoon. Donna's had a cold since early last week, and Steve came down with it a few days ago. It didn't (and hasn't!) slowed any of us down.

We were on the 9:25 train out of the Firenze Santa Maria Novella Train Station. It was just shy of a two hour ride on the high speed train. Donna and I sat next to each other on the train, and she wanted to take another selfie. We did. I'll post it at the bottom of this blog.

When we finally navigated our way out of the train station (much easier than Bologna but bigger), we got out front of the building and I couldn't help but take some pictures:

We started along the road towards the Duomo -- about a 40 minute walk from the train station. I was hoping for a prettier walk, as in Lucca or Bologna, but it was much more commercial. We learned later from our walking tour guide that much in Milan was bombed during WWII.

We continued on and I did manage to find a few things to take pictures of:

We got over to the Duomo Square through the Vittorio Emmanuel II Galleria. Beautiful! I will post pictures of that later in the blog as we went back through it on  our walking tour.

We found a place to eat -- Peck-- our waiter Francesco was very sweet. The restaurant is located above the store -- a gourmet grocery store. Of course I had to try the veal Milanese and the risotto Milanese-- both highly recommended by Francesco and delicious!

Steve had already cut the veal to share it with me before I could take this picture!

We then walked back to the Duomo Square to meet with the tour group. There was a young man standing there who looked at me and asked me, "Aren't you the Bishop?" I was confused for a moment and thought that after our last tour in Rome City Wonders, the tour company updated my profile because the guides found out I'm a Bishop (thanks to my sisters). No, it wasn't that. He was studying in Los Angeles and then Arizona at the time of my election and consecration and remembered me! His name is Giovanni -- and here is his picture with me:

Here is what he wrote to me on Facebook:
I was wondering: how many Italians were living in the US while you were appointed Episcopal Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles? 
Many, I guess. 
But, how many of them may recognize you while walking in Piazza Duomo, just because they remember to have read the news of your consecration on the newspaper? 
I guess just one! 
That’s incredible :)

Incredible indeed!

We did finally meet up with the tour and met our Tour Guide Katharine. She was extremely knowledgeable!

The 25 of us on the tour then headed out. She told us about the statue in the middle of the square of Vittorio Emmanuel II:

We then had to wait in a line and pass through security to enter the Cathedral -- it was all by hand wand and searching purses and backpacks -- it took a LONG time! This caused us to practically run through the rest of the tour!

Katharine told us that this is the cathedral where  Napoleon crowned himself (I remember the painting of that at the Louvre). 

She showed us a sundial from which noon was determined in order to change the direction of merchants and merchandise in the canals.

This is the only church made of white marble. 

When Constantine legalized Christianity -Milan was capital of western Christianity.

This cathedral houses a nail from Jesus's cross -- which is brought out once per year on September 14 Holy Cross Day! It is kept in a reliquary in the apse of the church. 

There are 52 columns which hold up the roof!

The statue of St Bartholomew's flayed is amazing:

This cathedral has the largest apse windows in the world -- I couldn't capture it all!:

Some more pictures from the cathedral:

We left the cathedral and went back through the Galleria-- beautiful and full of overpriced shops!

At one part of the crossing there is a tile that is very worn down. Turning in the tile in the genitals of the Taurus (yes you read that right) using your right foot and turning three times clockwisebrings you   good luck -- here is a picture of Donna turning! 

We went quickly through the Brera area -- full of art galleries -- we went so fast I couldn't take a picture!

We then went to the Sforza castle -- 

Napoleon built an arc de triumphe in Milan -- but it wasn't completed -- it was to link Paris with Milan -- it was almost completed but Napoleon lost at Waterloo. The Austrians kept it and renamed it the arch of peace --  Austrians changed the decorations on the top of the arche - horses and people facing Milan, with the horses rear ends facing Paris -- the opposite of what Napolean intended.

We then headed over to the building housing the Last Supper, but first we passed a train station with sculpture put up by the fashion industry -- a needle and thread going into the earth with the knot holding it in the other side of the street -- the colored thread reflects the colors of the cars in the metro at the time the monument was made:

We finally made it to the reason I booked this tour -- we had to wait until a certain time and go through a series of de humidifying rooms before we could enter in for our 15 minutes in the room with this masterpiece which had to be restored. Jesus' missing feet are because someone years ago built a door there.

Katharine explained how the painting was  made -- it's not a fresco. It is breathtaking, profound and moving to see it.

This was the perfect end to the tour!

Oh and here is the fresco a different artist did on the other side of the refectory:

After that we half ran to the metro station -- I couldn't take pictures because we were running to get to the metro to get back to the train. A nice man talked me through how to use the  machine to get tickets. A lady let us cut in line ahead of her -- she ended up helping us get on the correct train -- whew! We ran to the train station after exiting the metro and had just enough time to grab a sandwich to eat on the 2 hour train ride back to Florence.

This was an amazing day!

Here is a selfie of Donna and me from the morning train ride:

Total steps walked today: 20,705! 7.98 miles -- not bad considering that we spent 4 hours on a train!

More on the Last Supper from http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/davi/project/history.htm:


In 1495, Leonardo Da Vinci began painting the Last Supper on the wall of the refectory (dining hall) of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy, and completed it in 1498. Leonardo was commissioned to execute the painting in the Dominican monastery of this Church by Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza.

The church and friary found an ambitious patron in Ludovico Sforza. The Duke wanted to give visible expression to his position in both impressive buildings like the grand Church and grandiose paintings like the Last Supper. Therefore, Santa Maria delle Grazie became the court church, burial place for members of the Ducal family, and home to Leonardo's famous painting.

The Last Supper was painted on the northern wall of the refectory. It measures fifteen by twenty-nine feet. It stands whole as of today, except for the construction of a doorway in 1653, eliminating the lower central area of the painting.


Leonardo's method of working on the Last Supper was unprecedented. The Last Supper is not a fresco. Leonardo's intense concentration and hesitant manner of execution did not suit the commonly used medium for mural painting, in which the pigment had to be applied quickly before the plaster dried, precluding any changes during the course of execution. Instead of fresco, Leonardo devised his own technique for mural painting, a sort of tempera on stone.

The wall was first coated with a strong base of some material which would not only absorb the tempera emulsion but also protect it against moisture. His base was compounded out of gesso, pitch, and mastic, and has not proved durable. The pigment soon began to break loose from the base and a process of progressive decay set in. As early as 1517, it was noted to have begun to decay.

More than wood panel used in frescoes, the brick wall of the Last Supper has been subject to changes in temperature, humidity, and moisture. These factors have created serious damage to Leonardo's painting and place serious doubt on his new technique.

With regard to his use of perspective, Leonardo was successful in employing it to create an entension of the refectory and thus provides an illusionistic effect. There have been discoveries of how Leonardo made use of this artistic measure. A hole into which a nail had been driven has been found, located in the temple of Jesus. The location is the key spatial focus of Leonardo's painting of the Last Supper. He drove a nail into the wall and radiated string in various directions to help him see the perspective of the room he was painting.


While the Last Supper is a typical subject chosen for the decoration of many refectories because of the Eucharistic theme of sacrifice, Leonardo chose to capture the moment in which Jesus announces to the apostles that he knows one of them will betray him. The apostles are captured in their sense of astonishment immediately after this announcement. His conception and pictoral treatment of the subject forges a new path.

It is significant that Leonardo chose to ignore two widespread and long-established iconographical compositions. First, the arrangement of the disciples around a circular or square table had been tradition until that point. This was developed by Giotto from medieval models, and also used by Duccio and Sassetta in their paintings of the Last Supper. The necessity in this setup to depict some of the disciples somewhat thanklessly from behind was a contradiction to Leonardo's deisre for an expressive characterization of each of the twelve Apostles. A circular table would not provide adequate opportunity for exploiting the dramatic element of the scene.

Secondly, the Last Supper's initial appearances as Christian iconography illustrated two main ideas handed down in the Gospel texts: reference to the betrayal of Jesus Christ and the counter-motif to the betrayal. These ideas were realized in prior portraits with the image of Jesus feeding his traitor, Judas, a piece of bread dipped in wine, and John reclining his head against the breast of the Lord. It was from this tradition, familiar to all predecessors, that Leonardo chose to depart. His conception of the theme was completely dominated by the idea of bringing out the announcement of the betrayl as the dramatic central motif.

The faces in the painting, with the exception of Jesus (center figure), are reportedly those of actual people Leonardo sought out in Milan. Reportedly, Leonardo spend much time wandering through jails with Milanese criminals to locate the an appropriate Judas (fourth figure from left of painting). In addition to using living models from some of the disciples, Leonardo surrounded them with objects then in everday use. The tablecloth, knives, forks, glassware, and china were all similar to those of the monks residing at the monastery.

Additionally in its form, the painting portrays expression through the agitated movements of the Apostles. Leonardo believed that painted figures ought to be represented in a way that those who see them will be able to easily recognize from their attitudes the thoughts of their minds. His Last Supper exemplifies that belief that figures should express emotional and psychological realism. The Apostles are arranged in four groups of three with Christ in the center. Leonardo's depiction of Christ as the focal point in perspective and in the form of a triangle, symbolic of the Trinity, provides for calmness and stability, whereas the gesticulation and facial expressions of the Apostles conveys their sense of astonishment.

The dominant position of Christ is emphasized by the empty space around him. The background doorway frames his figure against the view of the countryside as his hands point silently to the bread and wine. His glance too follows this direction and places emphasis on the orderly arrangment of the objects on the table before him. To the left and right of him objects immediately fall into disarray. Thus Leonardo provides the space before the Lord as a symbol of the sacred action Jesus is ready to accomplish - offering himself as a sacrifice in the form of bread and wine.

Leonardo kept Judas within the company of his fellow Apostles within his depiction. In earlier paintings of the Last Supper, Judas had been shown to the side of the table as he was fed the bread dipped in wine by Jesus Christ in an effort to display him as shunned. However, as the fourth figure on the left, Leonardo portrays Judas as recoiling from Jesus. He is the only figure whose face is lost in the shadow, a subtle indication that he is lost from the light of Christ. He is also the only individual other than Christ to not be portrayed in the wave of emotion that seems to increase from left to right in the painting in an attempt to symbolize his guilt.

So you all know -- the look of the blog is slightly changed today -- blogger on my iPad ceased to work so I had to put this blog together on my iPhone -- not easy!

1 comment:

  1. So interesting that the young man remembered you from his time in LA!