Last night our concert in Turin was sold out. The audience didn’t seem super enthusiastic with their applause at the end, but they also kept applauding for what seemed like forever. We don’t usually do encores in the states, so it didn’t occur to us until the fourth curtain call that they were probably expecting an encore…oops.
Allora, we are prepared with an encore for the concert tomorrow here in Milan! A little aside: of all the fantastic Italian words we’ve been learning and practicing, none has quite captured our fancy like the word allora. It feels great to say, it can be inflected in so many ways – we’re bringing it back with us to the states, so get used to it.
When we were obsessively looking up what the weather would be like in Milan all week, we were prepared for grey skies and rainy days. To our delight, we arrived in full sunshine and 70 degree weather. We literally threw our bags in our rooms and attacked the city. Lunch was imperative, so we found a cute bistro the size of a postage stamp to have spritzes and some delicious bowls of pasta (nicoise salad for gluten-free me). Then we beelined it to the nearest coffee shop for a pick-me-up before hitting the sights hard.
First stop was to the Milan Cathedral, the third-largest cathedral in the world, six centuries in the making. Everything about it is awe-inspiring, from when you first spot it in between city buildings to when it reveals itself in full view. (Warning: the pigeons are out of control. They literally eat out of people’s hands. So expect the pigeons to get personal with you.) We didn’t wait in line to go inside, but I desperately want to go back and walk around on the roof to see the detail up close.
Then we headed to La Scala, stopping at a monument to Leonardo da Vinci for a second because we heard what was clearly an opera overture being broadcast into the square. After wondering what that was all about, we twirled around to realize we were actually standing right in front of La Scala. It was smaller and less grand than one might imagine, given its reputation. Hansel und Gretel and Tamerlano are the current productions, and we briefly entertained the idea of seeing one of them until we saw the price for a decent seat (~$220). Maybe next time.
So we were off again, this time headed for the Castello Sforzesco. I was obsessed with castles as a young child, and the sight of this one reawakened all my childhood enthusiasm. It even has a preserved moat, though now drained and probably best used as a sledding hill. The complex houses a number of museums, including the Museo Pietà Rondanini, which has the last unfinished sculpture of Michelangelo. But again, our whirlwind self-guided tour of Milan had no time for long lines and the actual insides of museums, so we headed back towards the hotel to look for apericena, and then a quick rest at the hotel before heading out for dinner.
In the morning, I ventured out to find Casa Verdi, the retirement home for musicians that Verdi built at the end of his life. He and his wife are buried there, and the home lies just beyond a monument to Verdi. Since I was there on Sunday, none of the rooms with memorabilia were open to the public, but I was able to visit the mausoleum and pay my respects to him and his wife. Then it was risotto, gelato, and caffe. A quick rest, then we packed into the van for our concert at the Elfo Puccini.
Attendance was less spectacular than in Torino, but no less enthusiastic. We busted out David Lang’s learn to fly for an encore, took some selfies, shared a couple bottles of wine, and are now all faced with the decision of whether to sleep a few hours or power through to our early airport departure. It’s been a delicious and delightful time in Torino and Milano and we all want to come back again soon. Grazie mille, Italia, e arrivederci!