Thursday, February 27, 2014


The consensus of opinion in world travel circles is that Milan is a bit of a dump. It lacks the historic charm of Florence or Venice, and if it weren't for Fashion Week, it would be about as appealing as... well... Perth. However it does have a few attractions.

First up, my travel buddy wanted to visit Milan’s noted Cimitero Monumentale, a place where, in death, Italians can indulge in the same florid histrionics as they did in life.

A lot of effort and creepy statuary went into the memorials, including this one, which I'm guessing is the Tomb of the Unknown Child Molester.

Meanwhile Admiral Ackbar offered comfort to the bereaved, or possibly the aesthetically distraught.

At its best, in the grand main chapel, the Cimitero Monumnetale has a beautiful and weighty dignity. At its worst, however, it’s an exercise in ridiculous excess in both materials and emotion. Like the mausoleum in which, behind locked gates, there were photographs of nonna and poppa and, on a lower shelf, a photo of their cat. Who is resting at the feet of a virtually life-sized stained glass Jesus Christ.

Afterwards we visited the Triennale Design Museum, partly to see the art, but mostly to have lunch. Italians take lunch seriously. Even in what was essentially an art gallery café, there were waiters in black aprons and ties gliding about with lofty professionalism, bringing complimentary panini and plates of pasta and risotto to the crowd of art students with hipster beards and design academics in beautifully tailored tweed jackets.

I had chickpea and bacon soup with rosemary oil, which, along with a selection of complimentary panini, a large bottle of aqua frizzante and a caffé latte, was only 10 euros. I should have had some wine, just like the nearby Italians had while they were spooning up their risotto with the utmost seriousness. But combined with the jetlag it probably would have caused me to curl up under a sculpture and go to sleep.

There was some very good avante garde art and sculpture in the museum, including this paint and epoxy sculpture of a man shooting himself in the head.

We weren't supposed to take photos in the gallery, but I decided to be a scofflaw and snap one anyway with my iPhone. So of course it was at that exact second that a guard came along.

I CAN SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING THERE! she seemed to say. Except that it was in Italian, so of course I can't be sure. She may have been advising me that the risotto in the cafe was particularly good today.


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