Today, was certainly a more relaxed day here in the city of St. Ambrose and Silvio Berlusconi. After getting acquainted with the tram routes (Milan’s subways are few and far in between), we got off at the Duomo square. (I must say, my original favorable impression was somewhat spoiled last night, when we, along with others, both tourists and locals were mobbed by groups of menacing Africans and Arabs offering to sell us strings. Well, more like thrusting them into our faces than offering. Utilizing my best Soviet scowl along with a string of Russian profanities, I managed to drive these wonderful immigrants away.)
After having delicious and laughably cheap panzarotte calzones (anchovies/olives/onions/just a hint of tomato sauce) at the famous “Luini” bakery, a mere block away from the Duomo, we made our way to the Brea art gallery (a hit tip and a bow to Dr. Fleming for recommending it). A wonderful collection of mostly Italian 16th century art, that deals mostly with New Testament themes, the Brea is well aerated unlike the Orsay, remarkably free of tourist hordes unlike the Louvre and the Met, and has paintings of remarkable emotional power. Sebastiano Ricci’s “St. Cajetan Ministering to a Dying Man” and Tanzio da Varallo’s “Martyrdom of the Franciscans at Nagasaki” made an especially powerful impression on me, both magnificent examples of the gallery’s Baroque painting.
Next stop was the Sforza castle and the nearby park, followed by a brief walk of the Vercelli shopping district so vociferously recommended by every Milanese I spoke to. I must say, it did not meet my wife’s expectations (so much the better for the family budget!) and the only thing we purchased there was some beer. Window shopping at the Vittorio Emmanuele gallery near the Duomo is much more advisable. As for actually buying clothes and shoes – there is a reason why Europeans flock to NYC with empty luggage bags set aside for clothing shopping.