I am back in my beloved Italy for three months to do an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. I will post more about my internship here.
I flew into Milan and got to spend a couple of days there before heading to Venice.
I got into the city around 3pm on March 27th. I checked into my accommodations, found a grocery store to get some dinner and crashed (hard).
While in Milan, I stayed in a monastery in a residential area on the southwest side of the city. It was well located, right near a metro stop and a grocery store, and was a 10-20 minute metro ride into the city center. When I was planning my backpacking trip through Italy two summers ago, I discovered Monastery Stays. This site has become my go-to when booking a place to stay in Italy. Essentially, it’s a way for monasteries or convents that are no longer active to offer modest rooms to travelers. It’s well priced, and there are locations all over the country. Ranging anywhere from 15 – 100 Euros per night, breakfast is often included and the staff is very pleasant and helpful.
For my short time in Milan (one full day) – I had a list of things I wanted to see and do. While walking around, however, I saw a poster for an exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s works, and that derailed a lot of my plan.
Frida Kahlo is one of my all-time favorite artists and it’s a rare opportunity to get to see her work in person. The only works of hers in the US are in D.C., the MoMA in NYC, and the San Francisco MoMA. The vast majority of her work remains in her home country, Mexico.
This exhibition of her work was at the MUDEC – Museum of Cultures and has been advertised as “the most important European exhibition ever devoted to the most famous and acclaimed Mexican woman painter” (MUDEC). The exhibition included photographs, archival artifacts from her life, personal letters, oil paintings, and sketches. It was laid out throughout 5 or 6 huge rooms – each room focused on a theme of Frida’s life (pain, love, family, nature, politics, etc. etc).
To say it was incredible would be a complete understatement. It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see so much of her work in one place. UGHHHH. I wept. The exhibition is up until June 3 and I have every intention to go back and see it many more times.
After finishing at MUDEC and attempting to gather myself, I headed to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where The Last Supper is housed.
Some info about the fresco (copy and pasted from a previous blog post)
To see The Last Supper, you have to get a ticket for a specific time several months in advance. They only allow 900 visitors in to see the fresco per day because of the fragile state of the fresco, and visitors can only be in the room for 15 minute intervals.
A little history about the fresco… Milan’s leading family at the time, the Sforzas, hired da Vinci to decorate the dining hall of the Dominican monastery that adjoins to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. In paying for da Vinci to decorate the refectory of the monastery, the Sforzas family was essentially trying to bribe the monks to allow their family to be buried in the church.
This fresco was pretty rebellious for the era in which it was done. Depictions of the last supper scene are typically just a meal between Jesus and his disciples. Da Vinci, however, chose to depict the moment right after Jesus said: “surely, one of you will betray me.” This depiction shows the raw emotional responses of the disciples right at this moment. It was one of the first pieces of religious art to have such emotional weight.
After seeing The Last Supper at 4:45pm, I walked about 15 minutes to the piazza where the Milan Cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II are located. I did a lap around both and then stumbled upon the Museuo del Novecento, which is directly across the piazza from the cathedral.
For some reason, the museum was offering free admission, so I went in. I will say that the art in this museum is pretty unremarkable, however, there is a two-story room of windows with an amazing view of the cathedral and the mall. It also had a cool light sculpture installed in the space. That view made it worth going in.