Our last full day in Europe, we took a high speed train to Milan. After milling around the outside of the train station in Milan looking for our hotel, a kind cab driver pointed us in the correct direction. We dropped off our bags and took the subway into the city to the Duomo. Wow. The Duomo is pretty spectacular, inside and out. Photos are not allowed inside unless you are willing to pay to get permission, which I wasn't. After seeing it in person, I'd say the Duomo is my third favorite church in the world, just behind Saint Peter's Basilica and Saint Paul Outside the Walls. It has some truly amazing history behind it as well, which I'll go into a bit later. We did a quick look around and then went into the Galleria next door to find a place for lunch. We ended up in a rather fancy restaurant--white table cloths and napkins, crystal stemware, etc. The food was really wonderful and they treated our boys like little princes and did not mind the pizza sauce on the table cloth. There's always bleach, right?
After lunch we caught the subway to Santa Maria delle Grazie, otherwise known as the Last Supper Church, as Wingnut Jr. and I had tickets to see the famed fresco at 3:15 pm. They have so much to try and preserve Leonardo's masterpiece. Visitors must have advance tickets, arrive 15 minutes early, and then move through a series of closed off rooms before entering the painting room, where they are allowed just 15 minutes to take in the painting. At first, Wingnut Jr. was disappointed he could not stay outside the church with his dad and little brother playing in the square. He was certain I was dragging him through yet another museum. In the end, I believe he really did enjoy seeing this particular attraction with me, especially since he only had to see two paintings and only had to stay 15 minutes. We sat together and discussed what he saw in The Last Supper and then we turned around and took in Giovanni Donato's Crucifixion, which is actually in better condition than the Last Supper, even though they were painted at nearly the same time.
Once our time was up, we made our way back to the Duomo, as we hadn't had time to explore the historic "basement" of the church. We arrived just after 5 pm and purchased our tickets. What a blessing we came so late, as the excavated basement was completely empty of tourists and pilgrims. Contained beneath the Duomo is an ancient baptistry. This particular baptistry is significant, as it was there Saint Ambrose baptized Saint Augustine. As faithful readers might recall, our oldest son's middle name is Augustine and Lil' Wingnut's middle name is Ambrose, making this visit doubly significant to us. What a wonderful way to end our trip to Europe.
The next morning, we rose quite early and took a train to the airport. We flew 9 hours to New York, where we parted ways with Wingnut as he made his way back to Salt Lake City and the boys and I flew another 5 hours to Seattle, spent the night and flew on to Spokane the next morning to be reunited with the girls. We relaxed with family for the next few days and made the 10 hour drive back home just in time to prep for Thanksgiving. I still can't believe it is over. Wingnut and I are already making plans to return to Europe, just the two of us. I'm already working on a list of places and sites we missed and are definite go-sees next time.
The incredible and imposing Duomo of Milan
This photo doesn't do them justice, but the bronze doors are spectacular. Figures reach out from the main carvings, they are an amazing work of art in themselves.
The Galleria is an enormous upscale shopping center.
The exterior of Santa Maria delle Grazie--I wish we had toured the church as well as the famous DaVinci painting. I've read we missed a great deal by not touring the church.
The excavated ancient baptistry in which Saint Augustine was baptized by Saint Ambrose