Nom de Plumage

May 19, 2012

Da Vinci Invites Me To His Last Supper


My last day in Milan and what better way to spend it then with the ‘Italian Master’s’. In the heart of the city, is the medieval castle Sforza. What I did not know at the time, was that it is famous for exhibiting the very last and unfinished sculpture by Michaelangelo. This castle has been converted into a stunning museum and houses many wonderful centuries old paintings, furniture, sculptures, musical instruments and much more.

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is a smaller museum that at the time that I was in Milan, had drawings on display by Leonardo Da Vinci. Not wanting to miss such an opportunity, I went to this little treasure and discovered some beautiful Italian cultural pieces.

Now for all the food lovers, there is a food hall that is an absolute MUST when in Milan. Called Becks and just around the corner from the Pinacoteca, it is a little place of heaven and well worth visiting. I personally LOVE Italian food and found this food hall a delightful treat. Everything from cheese, meat (fresh and cold), seafood, salads, wines, pastries etc, can be found here. So, take it from me, go there and treat your senses.

For lunch, I got the courage to visit a cafe near the Duomo and had a hot lunch. A huge fan of mushroom risotto, I thought no better place to eat it then in Italy. Somewhat very buttery, it was still delicious especially when accompanied with a glass of white wine and then followed by a cappuccino. Now that is actually a big no-no, for Italian’s only drink milky coffee’s for breakfast and from then on, it is the ‘espresso’. But I was desperate and didn’t care what the Italian’s thought. For dessert, I walked to one of the many gelato stores for a long-awaited gelato. Store windows are crammed with numerous flavours and colours of mouth-watering frozen creamy delights. Piled high and decorated beautifully, one cannot pass and not stop. It would be the start of my love affair with gelato.

By the end of the day, I was to experience a miracle and be invited to dine with Leonardo Da Vinci that was wholly unexpected. What I did not know, was that to view the fresco “The Last Supper”, you have to book in advance and it is not for free. Disappointed, I had to accept that I would miss out on seeing one of the worlds greatest painting. When I arrived back at my hostel late in the afternoon, I met with my roommate from Portugal. Lydia informed me that there was a rumour that the painting would be open to the public without a booking. Excited, Lydia, I and another roommate Lucia, caught the metro to a suburb called Carbona. The church of Santa Maria Grazie was a short walk from the station and not to our surprise, a queue of people was already waiting. Not to be deterred, we joined the back. From here on it became somewhat a fiasco. There was road works underway, so part of the main road was closed off and narrowed. Those waiting to view the fresco had lined up alongside the barricades. It was dangerous and stupid because there was heavy traffic passing and even trams. Tram drivers had a nightmare passing safely and there was a lot of verbal abuse by both parties. Nobody wanted to lose their place in the line, so the ordeal was reckless. One bright spark came up with a brilliant idea of having the long line turn back onto the piazza and away from the traffic. Brilliant! So the wait was on! The temperature plummeted and the evening passed by slowly. By 10 pm a member from the museum came out to count the remaining crowd. She unfortunately sent home people who were only 30 places behind us. We were so thankful that we were still in with a chance. We then got talking with a couple who are originally from Mexico but have been living in Milan for three years. It was only then that I realised of the miracle and my great fortune. Never before, has the Church opened the fresco without a booking and without payment. The fact that I was in Milan for three days only and happened to be here on the ONLY time that they decide to do this, was amazing and I felt so privileged.

By 10;30pm our 15 minutes with the master was awaiting us. After three hours of waiting, we entered the the building and then went through several glass rooms, each locked behind us until we got to the last door. Heavy security, air controlled rooms and groups divided into fifteen, the amazing efforts taken to preserve this fragile and priceless work, is a true testament to Da Vinci’s fame.

We finally enter the room and I was at first disappointed. For such a work, it it housed in the plainest room. White walls void of anything except with a large fresco on opposite walls. But there it was! It was beautiful! Fading due to the poor judgement by the painter, the paint was peeling and so very fragile. But it was perfect. On the other wall, was another fresco depicting Jesus on the cross. Unfortunately for that painter, his name is not widely known and I have forgotten it already. Sorry!

After all that excitement and waiting, dinner had long by-passed us and we were feeling very hungry. The three of us caught the metro to a suburb called Genoa and walked this quaint town renowned for it’s wonderful eateries and bars. It was late and we were very lucy to find a pizzeria who would serve us a very late dinner. They were reluctant at first, but they soon changed their mind. The two pizza’s were delicious when you are starving. With our bellies full, we were contented and happy. It was a great evening. We caught the very last metro back to the hostel and for the last bit of fun, a car stopped near us. The passenger door flew open and a transvestite prostitute was pushed out the door. Poor thing! Obviously the guy got what he needed but not happy about where he got it from? Beggar’s cannot be chooser’s?

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