Thursday, February 22, 2018

111 Places in Milan That You Must Not Miss . . . Getting Started

Wednesday, 21 February, 2018

I just flat out needed t0 get out of the Villa Skorpion today . . .

 It was cold when I woke
up but it would turn out to
be a nice winter day in Milan

 I thought that I would
start to attack this list

First off, I realized that  had already seen eight of the sights in the book, namely . . .

#15 Cattelan's L.O.V.E.
The rude gesture

#17 Cimitero Monumentale
A walk among Milan's most
renowned families

#34 Gallerie d'Italia
In the vaults of the bank

#78 San Maurizio al Monastero
The "Sistine Chapel" of Milan

#87 Sforza Castle
A breathtaking view from the battlements

#88 The Steam Factory
A cultural center for the arts

#91 The Talisman at the Galleria
That bull's got lucky balls

#94 Toti
A submarine in the heart of the city

So I headed to . . .

#24 The Devil's Column
The mysteries of the Basilica of Saint Ambrogio

Located outside of the consecrated grounds of the Basilica, I had noticed it on my previous trip to the Basilica of Saint Ambrogio but took no special note of it.

Now I know, the rest of the story . . .

The column dates back to the 2nd-century and is Corinthian in style.

Legend has it that St. Ambrogio, the Bishop of Milan, defeated the devil incarnate on this very spot.

The legend further states that Satan unwittingly rammed the column with his horns during the skirmish with Milan's beloved Bishop.

Satan's Horns punched these
two holes in the aptly named
Devil's Column!

The devil has a narrow head methinks

Placing your fingers in these two holes is said to be good luck. We have our season opener this coming Saturday night, so sure I took a shot!

The Milanese attribute magical powers to this column, saying it can also cure reptile bites.

Besides luck on Game Day, I'm hoping that touching the two holes is some kind of insurance against a future rattlesnake bite while revisiting California's Calico Ghost Town someday.

The Basilica's Courtyard
with a bevy of art students
studying the architecture

This column inside the Basilica
is the Devil's Column's sister column

Another legend has it that the snake atop this column was forged by Moses himself during his 40 years wandering the desert refusing to ask anyone for directions.

We Catholics are full of fun stories like these!

An ancient cross in the
Basilica's Courtyard

Near the Basilica, the backside of
the Monument to Milan's War Dead

Same Monument, Front Side

It was closed the last time I walked by here but the gates were open today so I entered.

Saint Ambrogio
Patron Saint of Milan
watching over the city's fallen

An Eternal Flame

With Carlo Colombo
Today's Honor Guard at the
Monument to Milan's War Dead

Quite the hat Carlo was sporting!

Carlo is 76 years young and full of enthusiasm!

He gave me a quick rundown about the history of the Monument in a mix of about 25% English to 75% Italian.

We communicated well as it turned out.

It was closing time as I entered the Monument but Carlo said not to worry, he would close the gate but stay until I was done.

His story about visiting New York on Columbus Day years ago when people found out about his last name was a good one.

Good on his word, he gates were closed and he was waiting for me. We visited for about ten minutes before I finally left the Monument.

Carlo is a great guy but that hat of his might be greater!

Speaking of Men's Headgear . . .

On to another sight . . .

#64 Palazzo Imperiale
When Milan was capital of the Roman Empire

From 286 to 404 A.D., Milan was the capital of the Western Roman Empire.  

Not much is left of the old capital

Most of the old buildings were recycled by the Christians to build their churches in later years. 

A random tower near
the Palazzo Imperiale

 As I was in the neighborhood,
I had to revisit #15 Cattelan's L.O.V.E.

A one finger salute to Milan's Stock Exchange Building or Borsa.

Near the Borsa

Also near the Borsa

I was getting hungry, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone . . . 

But not here

Why did I have to stumble upon this delicious Parisian establishment?

Because it was right across the street from . . .

#68 Peck
The "impeckable" deli owner

Noted for its traditional Italian recipes, Peck is the pride of Lombard gastronomy.

Francesco Peck, a merchant from Prague, opened a small deli in the city in 1883 that bore his name.

While many Milanese were skeptical then of this new deli, today it is an institution in the city.

Let's take a look . . .

Looks . . .

. . . Good!

Looks . . .

. . . GREATER!

All sorts of herbal teas on sale

Colorful produce is a must

A Vintage 1930
meat slicing machine

A ate a pricey but excellent lasagna for lunch at Peck, good times indeed!

Keep Laurie away from this spot
at ALL costs

Four unhappy men

Attacking Sforza Castle?

The Pope runs a ristorante and
pizzeria joint on the side?

#34 Gallerie d'Italia

The old bank building turned into a fascinating art museum that I visited last week.

That reminds me, I have to buy
a digital scale soon

Vixens at play

Sounds on the old #1 Tram

Walter Mitty would love the constant " . . . ta pocketa, pocketa . . ." sounds.

I know I did.

#11 The Cannocchiale
A view through the arches

Local refer to this view as the Cannocchiale or telescope.

It is the telescoping view from the Peace Arch through Parco Sempione to Sforza Castle.

The yellow tram was an added bonus.

The Peace Arch up close

#93 Torre Branca
The Fernet terrace

Known originally as the Torre Littoria, it was built in 1933 in only 68 days but its design was way ahead of its time. 

In 2002 the Branca family of Fernet liquor fame financed the tower's restoration. The top floor has a terrace perfect for sipping a glass of Fernet I am told.

Boules? Pétanque? Bocce?

I'm guessing this game in Italy is called bocce, similar to the games I've seen all over Europe under different names.

Fun to watch but I've never played a game on the Continent.

Lots of arguing is an Italian
must in any social endeavor

WATCH OUT for that heavy metal bocce ball incoming high and to our left!

You should have aimed it over here!

It was another good day in
northern Italy for some exercise


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Little Painting, a Lot of American Football

Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

As you may have noticed reading this blog the past five weeks, Milano is loaded with tremendous artwork from across the centuries.

Thus inspired, I opted to work with oils today as we continue to prepare for the 2018 opening of our beloved Varese Skorpions Italian DII season this coming Saturday night against the Varese Gorillas.

As I said, I like to work with
oils and HAMMERS!

SLEDGE HAMMERS that is . . .

This one still needs more work.

Why oils?

Why hammers?

It's an American football thing.

Speaking of American football, our Senior team practice tonight from 8:30 to 10:30 . . .

. . . will be quite chilly
it appears

When I arrived at our practice field for the 6:30 p.m. start of our U15 flag practice, I noticed . . .

. . . that all of our trees had
been trimmed back severely

No problem really, except . . .

Our sleds were buried
in the loped off branches

It took six players but our sled were soon extricated.

U15 WR Filippo Petrillo in action

U15 WR Dario showing off
for the folks back in California

Our Senior team practice tonight was well attended, spirited and extremely competitive.

Those are all good things to a coach's mind.

Reading Is FUNdamental

Four Short Stories from the
Queen of Nordic Noir

All good yarns with good ending plot twists.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Gorillas Game Prep Week Begins

Monday, 19 February, 2018

Most of the day was taken up by lots of scrimmage/game video study on HUDL.

It took a while, but the video of our scrimmage last Wednesday in Switzerland against the Lugano Rebels was finally uploaded on Sunday while I was visiting Genoa.

After breaking it down I can say that we got much better as the scrimmage unfolded.

Our Defense played as well as I suspected that night.

The Special Teams still needs some tweaking to be sure.

The Offense is progressing but needs consistency as we approach this Saturday's DII season opener at the home field of our crosstown rivals, the Varese Gorillas, this coming Saturday night at 8:30 p.m.

After breaking down our scrimmage video, I then started to evaluate the schemes that the 2017 Gorillas used against the Skorpions in our road game against them last season.

We will have to play much better than we did in either of our two scrimmages to bring home a victory this Saturday night.

Outside of the world of Skorpion football, I did have one other task today too see to as I got a parking ticket in Pavia last Friday.

I had parked in a pay-to-park blue lined spot that had a two hour limit. Since we were still in the Lombardy region, as I understood it, parking was free if I just put my document stating that I drive an energy saving auto on the dash.

I did so, toured Pavia's historic center for about an hour and returned to find a parking ticket under my windshield wiper.

What the . . .

Finally it dawned on me as I looked at the car next to me. While I could indeed park here for free, I still had to honor the two hour time limit.

You see, in Italy cars have a little blue card on their windshields or dash like . . .

. . . this one on mine

I had forgotten to reset the time that I arrived at the parking spot using this little blue device. Thus the officer who spied my arrival time was told by it that I had been parked there since 9:30 a.m. and it was now about 4:45 p.m., way over the allowed two hour stay.

This breach of parking etiquette on my part would cost me 28.70 Euros if I paid it within five days and 98 Euros if I waited longer to pay it.

A huge GRAZIE to Santa Barbara Nardi and her daughter Federica for helping me decipher the ticket before our practice on Saturday and explain how to pay it!

How does one pay a parking ticket issued by a city over an hour away you ask?

Why at the Post Office of course!

This is the Post Office in
Venegono Superiore

In Italy everything governmental and financial eventually ends up at your local Post Office.

Paying this ticket in less than five days would thus be easy.

No it wouldn't

It was 1:45 p.m. and as you can clearly see in this picture, the Post Office closes Monday through Friday at 1:35 p.m.

I was ten minutes late but not to worry, it was only day three of my early five day reduced fine payment period so bright and early on Tuesday, day four, I planned to take care of my parking mistake.

On the plus side for the Italian Postal Service . . .

. . . I got a card from Laurie that
she mailed in late January!

It was her annual Groundhog Day
card for me

And only 17 days late.

In the evening, while making a pizza at home, I turned on the TV to the Rai 1 channel which to my surprise was showing . . .


I have read 11 of the Inspector Montalbano mystery books by Andrea Camilleri set in the fictional Sicilian towns of Vigata and Montelusa.

The Camarillo Public Library has the first 20+ videos of the TV adaptations of these fun reads with English subtitles. The episode tonight on Rai 1 was much newer.

Most of the same actors were in the main roles as usual but, somehow, they have all gotten older looking.

How is that possible?

No English subtitles on Rai 1 but I still had fun watching old friends nonetheless.