Monday, April 1, 2019

Eight Days in Terruggia - Genoa, Milan, Turin, and Como

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For the last week or our Italian adventure we decided to located ourselves centrally in order to visit four different locations without having to relocated every other day.  We chose a small hilltop village halfway between Milan and Turin.  Terruggia has a population of about 300 and sits atop a hill overlooking the agricultural plains of norther Italy.  The Alps can be clearly seen in the distance and it is quiet and peaceful.  For $43 a night we found a lovely family villa.  Our apartment was the peasant quarters and stables from 200+ years ago and the property has been with the same family for three centuries.  Our flat was recently renovated and next to the huge adjoining family mansion.  Our host was so very kind, went out of his way to accommodate us during a Wi-Fi outage, and his 91 year old father, and former Ambassador to Bulgaria had us up for drinks one night and to talk about travel.  Those are the gems of world nomading that create lasting memories for sure.

Our first day out was to Genoa.  It was a 90 minutes drive through the southern mountains to the seaport.  We parked at the harbor and spent the day touring the Maritime Museum and some of the city center sites.  Genoa is a small city in relation to the rest of the country, but of course has a huge maritime history and is still one of the world's largest and most famous seaports.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we truly enjoyed our decision to do the long drive.
The museum was huge, could easily have taken up several hours of our day, and was full of history and more current displays.

 The city center boasted some beautiful 19th century architecture as well as churches and civic buildings dating back to the the 1400's.  Built on high hills and cliffs cascading down to the harbor, the city had a unique charm and for a Saturday was pretty quiet.

 We drove into Milan on two separate days.  The first day was devoted to visiting DaVinci's Last Supper.  The tickets are hard to get and we lucked out with two spots in the afternoon.  The drive was a little over and hour and we easily found parking near the church.  We wandered around a bit before meeting up with our guide and group.  The process for viewing the painting was pretty intense.  All entries are timed, the chapel is sealed with double closing doorways to prevent elementals from entering, and only 30 visitors are allowed in at at time and only for 15 minutes.

The church the houses the painting was not unique other than it was built in 1380, partially destroyed by the Allied Armies in WW2 and rebulit.
 The nearby castle has a wonderful tower and a lot of existing structure.

 Once inside we were able to take photos of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.  It was an memoriable moment to be front of such a famous work or art. and it was huge.  Somehow |I had always an impression of it being much smaller.

 There was a lovely trumphant arc with lots of adorement nearby and we walked through the neighboring park before heading home.
We passed a reminder that Milan is a modern city with the interesting "crumbled foil" roof on the main train station.
We returned the next day and enjoyed a lively two hour walking tour of the historic center.  Our guide was charming as usual and it was once again a beautiful spring day.

We started out a the church next to the university.
 Viewed Milans only downtown skyscapper from 1960.
Were entertained by many graduation parties.  The grads wear the leaf garland.

 The symbol of the city...a serpent dragon eating a nice.
 The magnificent cathedral.

The Galleria shopping center.  I opened a Dunhill story here in 1981. It was still in the same location but looked a "bit" different.
 Zillions of tourists in the cathedral square.

 The roof of the galleria and the amazing tiled mosaics.

 Our guide Delucca.
 Gelato stop.  This one was decadent.
 La Scala Square and the unassuming opera house.

 And the Stock Market and the "interesting" statue by a local artist in front.

 Our tour group.
We took a full day to drive north of Milan to Lake Como.  There we met up with our friends John Poole and Constanza Schneider.  They took the train down from Zurich and we had a lovely day together.  Lunch and a visit to the top of the funicular for spectacular views was followed by a drive back to Milan where we left them off for the evening.  Could not help but note the muscular couple that we caught in the photo.  They were exercising their dogs and showing off their finely sculpted bodies.
 We took the tram up to the top of the mountain.
 The views were of course what we expected to find.,

 For our Turin visit, we drove 90 minutes further west to the first capitol of the Italian Federation and joined a lively walking tour of the city center for three hours.  This is the central train station.
 The symbol of the city is the bull.  An most of the drinking fountains in the parks looked like this.
 Like Bologna, the sidewalks are all covered arcades.  Beautiful stone columns held them up all over the city.

 A statue from 100 AD - Roman and gracing a reconstructed fountain.
 One of the many large squares.
 Original home of the "shroud of Turin."
 Another upscale shopping "mall" dating back to early 1800s.  Beautiful deco styled window trims and an awesome sky-lighted roof.

 A great corner with triangular buidlings.
 The flag reads "the contraption for the baby keeper."  It celebrate the invention of the wire cage pregnant women wore to protect their budding offspring during gestation.  It soon became a fashion trend all over Europe.
 Anther grand church.
 The duomo in the distance.  The dome was quite interesting.
 One of the oldest still standing towers in Italy.  Built in 1250 by one of the Savoy kings.
 The duomo.

 The first royal palace.
 The opera house is built within surround buildingts that encircle the royal plaza.  These gates were designed in 1960 and slide on rails to open and close allowing entrance to the couryard and theater behind.

 The tallest building in Europe until the 1960s this tower caught our gaxe for quite some time.  Look at the two story temple near thetop.  To give you a perspective, it is the size of nearly a small city block.

 A street car from the beginning of the 20th century, still in use today.
 Following the walking tour, Carol opted to visit the royal palace.  If we had had the time, it would have taken well over five hours to see we had to keep a tight leash on her lest she get lost.  She of course was taken by the grandeur and spectacle of it all.  We have seen so many of these, we were a bit jaded...but nevertheless, here are a few highlights.

 Real taxidermied horses with armor.

 The inside of the duomo dome.  This was the highlight our our visit. 

 On the way back we passed by the home of Martini and Rossi and Lavazza Coffee.
Our last day was spent resting and preparing for our next adventure.  We had not been on a plane since Belgrade so it was time to shed stuff we have been accumulating and get under that 20 \Kg limit.  It was a lovely sunny day and Bobbie and Carol took a long walk in the village.  I began an new piece of art,.  Motivated by all the sculptures, I'm working on a few hand and anatomical well as a still life.

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