Two-faced Mary and the Last Supper
Milan Travel Blog› entry 10 of 11 › view all entries
December 31st, 2009 – by: Adrian_Liston
We explored just a taste of the culture residing in Milan from this long period of wealth and power. The Milano Cathedral, as the third largest Christian Church in the world, took over 500 years to build, starting in 1386. It is a beautiful Gothic Church, built of warm pale marble and so covered with pinnacles the roof looks like a veil of lace. Inside it is all a Gothic Church should be - dark, brooding and melancholic, with gruesome statues like that of Bartholomew by Marco D'Agrate, with an anatomically-detailed martyr draped in his own skin.
Outside the Church the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a rich domed arcade, built between 1865 and 1877, housing all the leading fashion houses of Milan and one of only two seven-star hotels in the world, amusingly just across from McDonalds.
In the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco we visited the Rondanini Pieta by Michelangelo. It is a fascinating statue as it was left unfinished by Michelangelo due to his death. Some parts are perfected and polished while others are only the crudest sketch. The most fascinating part is how much Michelangelo changed his design as he was sculpting, if you look from the side Mary clearly has two faces, the original in profile and mostly carved off, and a new rough hewn face looking forward. Very interesting to know that even Michelangelo was unhappy with his work at times.
In Santa Maria delle Grazie we saw The Last Supper. The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 1498 on the back wall of the dining hall at Santa Maria delle Grazie. The painting today has been through so much that it is probably stretching the truth to call it the original - the painting was already labelled “ruined” in 1556 and a doorway was cut through the painting in 1652. In 1726 the painting was redone and even the restoration was in ruins by 1768 thanks to poor preservation decisions. The painting was restored again in 1770, but in 1796 the building was occupied by French troops and used as an armory and later a prison, being badly damaged by soldiers throwing stones and scratching off the paint.
An oddity in Santa Maria delle Grazie - in the Church there are coin-fed metres to light up the dome and displays in the crypts. Really really tacky. I mean, why not just a donation box? Is the Church housing The Last Supper really only one step away from a coin-operated animatronic Jesus? Someone really needs to have a word to the Catholic Church about keeping up good taste.
Finally, walking back along the Via Dante we were walking past a street full of helpful young men who were selling exceptionally cheap original designer handbags, laid out on the ground. By some strange coincidence when a whistle sounded suddenly everyone of the designer handbag vendors remembered that they had left the oven on, and in remarkably short time swept up their legitimate merchandise and ran off.
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