Matt loves horse racing more than anyone I know, and thanks to him, I find it entertaining and exciting now. It’s also a good thing he loves horse racing so much, otherwise I would have never gone to the St. Moritz White Turf horse races. But I’ll have to get to that later, because we did so much on this trip leading up to the actual event!
Matt planned this Valentine’s Day and Anniversary trip awhile ago, because White Turf is on his bucket list of races he wants to see. I’ve mentioned this in past posts, so I’ll spare you the details. The agenda started with a trip to Milan, Italy. Matt chose this route because airline prices were cheaper flying into Milan, and then we’d get to take a train ride through the Alps to get to St. Moritz. We landed in Milan early Friday morning, checked into our hotel, dropped off our bags, and set out into the city to see the sights. We went to the Piazza del Duomo first, because we wanted to see the Cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Duomo of Milan, or the Milan Cathedral, was absolutely stunning. The gothic architecture rivals anything I’ve ever seen in person or in photographs. Inside, Matt joked that it has it’s own atmosphere, because haze and smoke from the candles rested far above our heads in the gigantic ceiling.
From the Cathedral we grabbed lunch on the square. We split a bottle of celebratory champagne (the first of many in the weekend, ;-)) and the biggest pizza I’ve ever seen. I thought everything was bigger in Texas, but apparently I was wrong! Imagine one slice of Sabarro’s Pizza – you know, the food court kind – and multiply it by ten. That was our pizza and like true Americans, we finished most of it!
We then happened to stumble across the Castello Sforzesco and then strolled through the adjacent park. People were playing frisbee, walking their dogs, and riding bikes. The weather was nice, so we didn’t rush; we took in the view of the Peace Arch, and then slowly made our way back to the hotel. We grabbed a taxi there, because we were headed out to the Santa Maria delle Grazie to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
That was truly something to remember. Our guide took us through a series of sealed rooms to get to the painting, supplying historical facts along the way. The sealed chambers made it so that the humidity or weather outside the refectory wouldn’t make it’s way in, which would speed up the degeneration process of the painting. We learned that only about 20% of the original painting remains, and that in WWII, the church was bombed, leaving only the wall with The Last Supper, and the opposite wall with The Crucifixion, painted by Donato Montorfano. Our guide explained who each character in the painting was supposed to represent, and why da Vinci placed them in that specific position or action. She explained the lighting in the painting and how it was supposed to compliment the lighting in the room. Unfortunately, with only 15 minutes to view the painting, we were left with only a minute or two to admire The Crucifixion. When we left the room, we were shown a smaller replica of The Last Supper, and our guide pointed out the differences between the original painting and the restorations. It’s truly amazing how much of the painting is actually gone, but you can still admire what Leonardo da Vinci accomplished.
With a very early morning train scheduled the next day, Matt and I had a quick dinner, and then turned in fairly early. We didn’t want to miss a minute of the spectacular views of the Alps. And to be quite honest, we weren’t as impressed by Milan as we thought we would be. Obviously, we had a great time, but unless you’re prepared for it, you’ll find yourself surprised by the industrial nature of the city. Milan is not what you expect Italian cities to look like; it’s fairly dirty, hazy, and brings in so many tourists that it’s hard to find one of those quaint Italian restaurants or an area where someone isn’t trying to sell you something on the street. Yet, I’m happy to say I’ve been to Milan and it was a fantastic stop on our way out to Switzerland!