THE GOTHIC DUOMO in Milan, Italy

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October 5, 2016

Milan’s  Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, or better known as  Milan’s  Duomo , is the most incredible and the most  visited sight in the city.  Building began in 1386 but  was not completely finished until 1965.    Being the  4th largest Cathedral  in Europe,  it  can hold 40,000 people.  The  cathedral has  3500  marble statues, with 2/3 of them on the exterior.  The roof  has  135 carved  stone pinnacles,  135 gargoyles  and interior has 52 gigantic and intricately  carved pillars.  Napoleon crowned himself King here in 1805.

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The  famous Madonnina, is  the gilded copper statue of Mary that stands on the cathedral’s highest spire of 354 feet.  Mary  was set in 1774 and measures approximately 13 feet tall.

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There is also a  replica of Mary  inside the Cathedral.

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Much to be seen inside the Cathedral.  Such as the statue of St. Bartholomew –  draped in his own skin, muscles and  veins are exposed. While creepy it  represents  his martyrdom where he was skinned alive.   And that was the beginning of what they did to him.  If you have the stomach for  it – look up St. Bartholomew for more details.

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Always interesting what is on display in these history-filled  churches and cathedrals –  I believe this is an Archbishop of the past.

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Just a few of the enormous  52 pillars inside the Duomo.

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A zoomed -in  shot of the carving on the pillars.  Each  pillar stands  about 78 feet tall.

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The ciborium that holds the tabernacle.

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An ancient Roman bathtub is used as the Baptismal of the Duomo.

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One of the many statues in the Duomo.

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The exterior bronze  doors are also intricately  carved and enormous in size.

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A walk on the roof was a real treat.

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Thankfully  there was an elevator that took me almost to the top – only 78 steps more after that.

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Views from the roof…….

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and  of the exterior of the Cathedral……

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Love those gargoyles!

Just a tidbit  – supposedly gargoyles do more than act as a drain spouts.  They are also  considered protectors and are  scary looking to frighten off evil spirits.  Thus they were  added  to churches and other important  buildings.

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SFORZA CASTLE in Milan, Italy

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October 5, 2016

Castello Sforzesco  is another sight to see in Milan and was  the  residence of the ruling families in the past.   It was built in the 15 century on the remains of  a 14th century  fortress and was  expanded many times over the centuries.   This  castle  is huge with walled grounds and  a moat ( now grass),  and today is the home of an art museum.

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Main entrance to the grounds.

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The castle extends to  both sides of the entrance.

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Another entrance to the castle grounds has a draw-bridge over the moat.

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One of the two defense towers.

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The moat is now grass  and a  driveway for utility vehicles.

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Partial family portrait of the present day  residents  of the  castle grounds.  I counted a total of 12 felines  but only 3 agreed to be photographed.

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(borrowed from the Internet)

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GALLERIA VITTORIO EMMANELIC, in Milan

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October 5, 2016

Another stop on the tour was “The Galleria”- which is a grand gallery/glass domed shopping mall that was built between 1865 and 1877.  It is the oldest shopping mall in the world.

Yes, it does  feel  grand to walk  through the mall, even though it is full of out-of-my-budget shops and restaurants.

The photos hardly due it justice,  especially since I am trying to shoot over the  heads of  swarms of people inside.  But it gives you an idea.

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While shopping at the  Galleria, legend has it that for  good luck,  you should  stop at the  bull and spin the heel of your foot on his testicles.

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The New Galleria in Milan  With Evening Strollers

painted by  Carla Canella in 1870

 

I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist. 

~Tammy Faye Bakker

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“THE LAST SUPPER” PAINTING in Milan, Italy

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Santa Maria del  Grazie Church and Convent

October 5, 2016

On my day of arrival in Milan,  I had a half- day tour set up, in advance, with  Zan Viaggi  Tours,  so that I could see  ” The Last Supper” painting.   Unless you make your reservations to see the painting months in advance,  a tour company like this is your only chance.   The tour was half  riding in a bus  to see some sights and history of Milan and half  walking tour.  It was enjoyable,  well organized and I would highly recommend.

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The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo da Vinci  from 1494 – 1498, directly on the wall  in the refectory of  the convent.  It  measures approximately  15 by 29 feet.

During World War II   the  church and  convent was bombed and much of the refectory was destroyed, but  the wall that holds the The Last Supper, which had been sand-bagged in order to protect it, survived.

In 1980,  a 19 year restoration began on the badly deteriorated painting .  Sadly  very few of  da Vinic  actual brush strokes remain.

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 The Crucifixion,   by  Donato da Montorfano , also  was painted directly on the wall in the dining hall across from The Last Supper  in 1495.

 

A funny  side note to this tour stop was that I sat next to a  Australian  lady, who was traveling alone and had quite a sense of humor.    We had a bit of free time while at this stop  and , while I went across the street to enjoy some strawberry gelato, this lady went to see the inside of the church.  When we all got back on the bus, she commented to me that,  even though she wasn’t Catholic, she had ” sprinkled myself with Holy Water – I don’t know if it did any good but thought I would try”.

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INTRODUCTION DAY TO MILAN, ITALY

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My favorite Italian meal – Alottagelato –  with pizza on the side.

October 5, 2016

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Delizioso !  A piece of heaven in Italy.

I am now  back to  home, sweet home,  but I  still want to share with you my adventures in Italy.  My home base was Milan with its wealth of attractions  and an easy to navigate Metro system  to provide inexpensive transportation.

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Milan is  best known for it’s fashion…..

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and it’s economic capital of Italy.

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Method of  personal common transportation – tiny cars ( this one was parked on the sidewalk)  and..

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hundreds of these  “motociclo”  buzzing in, out and between  traffic  like annoying  bees.

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Food is  a very popular part of Italy — – -no simple chocolate chip cookie to be found here.

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Italian food is so popular, they make and sell magnets to show off their famous brands

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Typical Milan building facades and  adornments are quite impressive.

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Space is at a premium , and this  church, makes the most of it’s corner lot.

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Many street artists can be found at the local  ” piazza”  but  I found this “art” to be especially  unique.

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Lastly, the bird of the day, is the Hooded Crow, a common bird  found all over Europe.

“To awaken  in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”

– Freya Stark

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CROSSING the CARRICK-A-REDE BRIDGE, in Northern Ireland

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See that little white building on top of the cliff?  That’s where the walk  to the bridge begins…

Oct 3, 2016

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There you can still barely see the white building, but the path is certain.

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One of the marvelous  views from the path.

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A view of where the path leads and just how far it is to walk is becoming more apparent.

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More views – the little white building where we started can barely be seen.

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Almost there…..

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Now I can really see what I am in for…

These people have already crossed the bridge and really to come back over.

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Besides the mile long path  walk along stunningly beautiful views, the Carrick-A-Rede bridge involves walking down very steep steps ( like almost straight down steps) to reach the bridge.    The  ravine opening where the bridge crosses over  is 65 feet wide and the drop off  from the bridge to the bottom  is 98 feet deep. Did I mention yet that this is a rope bridge?  That this location is incredibly windy?

Evidently a rope  bridge has been erected here by fisherman for 350 years to allow them to catch migrating salmon. This adventure continues the tradition, except it is  courage we are searching  for, not salmon.

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Only 8 people at a time are allowed to cross.

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View of the steps from the other side.  No, sorry,  I did not  take any photos while on the bridge – my hands were clenching  the sides of the rope bridge for dear-life as the wind was blowing, the bridge was  swaying and my jacket was  making flapping noises.  I was trying to concentrate on not looking down and how terrified I really was !  I vaguely remember  that the bottom held  moving  muddy water and rocky  sides of the cliff edges.   I  could see that before I took the first step onto the bridge.  From that point  on,  I looked anywhere but down and gingerly took each step until I  reached the other side.  Knowing all along, I would have to walk across it a second time.

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This little guy went across the bridge both ways but had a serious melt down when it was all over.   I totally understood and  wanted his Mum to hug me too when it was all over !

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Another  unbelievable view on the walk back.

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This little sheep,  holding his lucky shamrock,  smiled on all of us on the bus ride back.

That wraps up my  fantastically  enjoyable  trip to Ireland.   Now on to Italy!

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY, in Northern Ireland

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Nicknamed ” The Giant’s Pipe  Organ”

Oct 3, 2016

On the 2nd  Wild Rover Tour day trip,  the Giant’s Causeway was the 2nd stop.   The Giant’s Causeway has  a distinctive rock formation  symmetry for  almost 18 miles on the coastline.  The  rocks are  hexagon-ish  shaped tubes stacked next to each other like puzzle pieces.   It is believed to have been caused by volcanic eruptions more than 60 million years ago.

Of course, the Irish know the true story – it was really caused by the Irish  Giant Finn McCool.    Finn was having  trouble with the Scottish Giant  Benandonner  across the way.  Finn starts throwing  massive pieces of the coast toward Scotland to walk across and  teach  Benandonner a lesson.  But the Scotish giant was much more massive than Finn  and  Finn hastily retreats.    Finn’s wife quickly  disguised Finn as a baby.  Benandonner  saw the baby and  decided if the baby was that big,  then the daddy must be  even bigger.  Thus  the Scottish Giant ran back to Scotland and ceased to be a problem.

Here are my many favorite photos of  the Giant’s Causeway.

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I would be amiss if I failed to  mention how beautifully green and  rugged  the  northern  Irish coast  is on the  drive to the Giant’s Causeway.

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The scenery also  is full of grazing and lazing cattle…..

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and sheep .   What the Irish call a “woolly  jumper”  actually because the  wool comes from the sheep to make jumpers, sweaters and the like   – as  I was explained in one of the gift shops.

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We also made a photo stop at the Dunlace Castle, dating from the  13th century.   The castle is actually  eroding  off the edge of the Atlantic  coast due to wind and sea.  It was also  used  for filming in the  “Game of Thrones”.

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Coastal view  looking the opposite direction of the Dunlace Castle.

Lastly, the Irish say……
“Ireland, it’s the one place on earth
That heaven has kissed
With melody, mirth,
and meadow and mist.”

But Finn  McCool says…

“Count your joys instead of your woes,

count your friends instead of your foes.”

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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