Saturday, May 21, 2011

Milan, a City that Embraces Old and New

Five years ago after finishing a summer class with the Florence Academy of Art, I left Italy and promised myself that I would return, but not alone... I wanted to come back with my husband, Steve. This week, the dream came true, and it was all made possible by Steve's new job working for a company called Festo. Last week, he was in Germany, where Festo is internationally based, for work. This week, he was scheduled to work in Milan, so on Thursday/Friday, I flew in to join him. After his work week is finished, we will spend the next two weeks exploring Switzerland and Italy. It is an opportunity I never thought would be possible so soon, and I am grateful to be here!

I've promised many of you that I would blog about this experience, so consider this my first little update. Of course, I could write a great deal about all the cultural differences and the little things I've felt silly having to learn the hard way (like how to buy an underground metro ticket...), but everything comes together in the end, and the Milanese are gracious people, willing to help even with the language barrier.

When I first landed in Milan, I felt my heart flutter. I could hardly believe I was back in Italy! Still, Milan, as I have discovered, is very different from Florence or Rome, and I am anxious to learn more about it. My first introduction to the city basically consisted of curious, random wandering for an entire day. I only had one goal on my first day here, and that was to find an art supply store where I could buy solvents for oil painting. Once I finally found one in the Brera district, I continued to wander, wondering what kind of portrait (or series of portraits) I would end up painting of the city of Milan. It's unlike Florence, which feels locked in time, and also unlike Rome, which revels in its historical fame. Milan is extremely urban, bustling with real city folk who go about their day, but dress more fashionably than Americans and yet aren't ashamed to take public transportation. I have yet to see the high-end shopping districts or go into the art galleries, but I've seen enough to realize that Milan's beauty is unique, and it will be challenging for me to find places to paint that really capture this dichotomy between the old and the new. The city, so rich with tradition, is also a leader in the modern age - art, fashion, technology. So, the question I have is: what portrait shall I paint of Milan?

Day 2 (today) - Steve and I unashamedly playing tourist... here are some pictures of our adventures.

Steve and I in front of the famous Duomo, which is charactarized by its numerous architectural styles, as it took over 500 years to build.

One of the impressive views of the buildings and streets below from the top of the Duomo.

Walking through some of the expensive shopping areas in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. This was an impressive window display for Louis Vuitton.

At the Piazza Della Scala, with the statue of Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci was very active in Milan; tomorrow we will be going to see "The Last Supper."

One must have gelato as often as possible when staying in Italy! These flavors were mixed berry and milk (this is branching out for me - I'm usually a stickler for chocolate!).

A typical, beautiful city street.

These strawberries in a Milan fruit stand looked absolutely mouthwatering.

At the Castello Sforzesco, a fortress built in the 1300s.



  1. I'm a bit slow but lovely photos, thanks so much for sharing! Can't wait to continue reading about the rest of your trip *moves on to next blog post*

    I noticed the same dichotomy in Turin... Modern combined with beautiful graceful history. And the incorporation of art into every aspect of life. THIS is why I adore Italy.

  2. Wow, are we able to see the results in the 20th century recreation of the Renaissance tower above the facade?


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