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Milan

from Zani: Milano mods & art moderna, the moral capital of Italy, heaven & hell

Thursday, December 01, 2011

MILAN - The blue dome with stars (and England-Milan flag :) and the biggest Christmas (natural) tree in the world have been confirmed, but only thanks to a sponsor: Milano Prada. Waiting for Pretty Green to sponsor :).
Tevez new place ;) (don't you know you might find a better place to play :)

They say in Italy every road leads to Rome, well in Milan every road seems to lead to the Duomo, the magnificent gothic cathedral built from 1380 and over five centuries. As a lapsed catholic taught by the Jesuits from junior to senior school (motto “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man” - Ignatius Loyola - so I must have been a man three times over) this place is both heaven and hell to me, solace and darkness in its most splendid form. Entering the dark gothic interior, the majestic stained glass and vaulted ceilings, the blackened mummified corpse of St Borromeus, trapped in time inside his glass tomb, in full canonicals, mitre and bejewelled gloves, the tiered rows of candles lit in memory of a loved one and the procession of priests and altar boys accompanied by a ghostly choir as swirls of incense waft up into the heights, it’s enough to bring anyone to their knees in prayer.
But for me, it evokes rather sinister memories of being ten years old and on school bell ringing duty, and no matter how much I checked my watch over and over, I would always be told I’d rung the bell ten seconds late and would receive six of the best from a kindly Jesuit, consequently I’m always looking at my watch and never late for a meeting but that can’t be a bad thing can it?
The exterior however, is the real joy of this monument to religious fortitude and centuries of political manoeuvring. Sculpted and crafted from Candoglin white marble it is really quite beyond compare, and frankly breathtaking. And you simply have to go up onto the roof walking along the length of the church amongst the marble statues of Saints and Kings, Napoleon to the Virgin Mary, and finally climbing up onto the roof you have the whole of Milan sprawling before you and the Alps in the distance on a clear day.

The surrounding Piazza Del Duomo leads off in every direction to the fashion houses and stores of Milan and I can’t help thinking there is a distinct Mod vibe about the clothes and attitude, from every passing scooter to the cafes and bars, people just simply present themselves to a standard lost on the marauding gangs of Chavs of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, fat oafs roaming the streets in their uniform of grey tracksuits and white trainers (having never been in a gym in their lives) stuffing rancid buckets of KFC into their faces and feeding the scraps to the trophy pit bull. The Milano Mods aren’t just a scooter club, it’s a way of life here.

The next day with little time to spare, the concierge at the hotel sends me off to what I thought was going to be the Modern Art gallery of Milan but instead I find myself at the delightful Galleria D’Arte Moderna, a collection of 19th Century art which of course to the average Italian is Modern Art – silly me.
I’m not going to try and pretend I have any real knowledge or education of such art (I’m really a Tracey Emin unmade bed kinda of critic and other such outrages) but I can pass on my joy at this collection.
The ground floor hall features the neo classical marble sculptures by Pompeo Marchesi and hand drawings (uncannily like the works of Leonardo Da Vinci) and extensive works by Milanese artist, Andrea Appiani.
Amongst the sizable collection I was particularly drawn to Massimo D’Azeglio’s ‘Revenge’ and Milgliara Giovanni’s ‘Mortuary Chapel’ and the works of Segantini. There are so many Milanese and Italian artists on display here that it hits home how in visiting international galleries and museums you are only really scratching the surface in viewing the good and the famous and how this gallery (itself a masterpiece of neoclassicism) is a fine example of the background and rich heritage behind the classics and national treasures of Italy.
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