***for info on the shirt I’m wearing, go to fightthenewdrug.org***
Today was our day for sightseeing in Milan. We knew that we absolutely had to see the Milan Cathedral and, of course, The Last Supper. The only way to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece is with a ticket. To preserve one of the world’s most famous but most delicate paintings, only 30 people are allowed in at a time. Tickets are typically sold out months in advance. When we found that out I was mad, but Rick Steves gave us a clever loophole: city bus tours will include admission to it, and often have room for walk-ons.
So this morning we had breakfast at the hotel and walked through town to the Milan Cathedral where the 11:00 tour would start. Of course, we were besieged upon by immigrants trying to sell their various pieces of crap. We escaped mostly unscathed, except for some bracelets that were forced on our wrists by a silver-tongued Senegalese man.
The tour itself was nice. We saw the city’s old fort before being taken to the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where the Last Supper is housed. Our tour guide gave us some very interesting information about da Vinci and his four year process of painting it. We were then escorted through a series of temperature and humidity controlled air locks before being let in to see it.
It was magnificent. And way bigger than I expected. I knew it had been painted on a wall, but I didn’t realize how big the wall was. Unfortunately, absolutely no photographs or video recording was allowed inside, so I could only take a picture In front of a poster of it. But it really was amazing. Most paintings now hang in museums, so even though I have seen the Mona Lisa, da Vinci was never in the Louvre. Thinking about t the fact that I was literally standing where da Vinci had walked and worked was awesome.
When the tour was over we were dropped off back in front of the Cathedral. The outside was beautiful, but we didn’t feel like paying money and waiting for hours to get inside. Maybe we should have, but there are still plenty of churches to see.
Once this was over we collected our bags from the hotel and made our way to the train station to reserve tickets for our next destination: Venice!
Except we couldn’t, because every seat on every train for the next five hours were sold out. So after stressing a bit about the wrench in our plans we decided to get a train to Bologna, then either see the city or try to continue on to Venice. Well the ticket machine would only let us get business class tickets, and didn’t charge an upgrade fee, so that’s what we did!
Business class was awesome too. We got complimentary drinks and snaks! And we met a lovely American lady who lived in Italy. She told us that there is some kind of special music fair happening in Venice, and it just started this weekend, so everything there will be totally full all weekend. So thanks to her advice, our mess-up of not getting a train to Venice turned out for the best, and we decided to stay out of Venice til Monday, instead spending the weekend in the less crowded cities in the area.
When we got off at Bologna, we wandered through the streets a bit. Unfortunately we were wandering through what I have to assume was the ghetto of Bologna. When we found our way to the more touristic part of the city we found almost all the hotels were fully booked for some other kind of fair, in addition to people staying here for the world fair. But, like we always do, we eventually found somewhere. This place the consierge listed a price that was too high, but must have taken pity from our sweaty faces and heavy backpacks, because he gave us a discounted price of 33%! So we dropped off our bags and went to diner, which was, of course, delicious pasta.