Monday, November 5, 2018


I have always wanted to go to Milan, but never really made it a priority in my past trips to Europe. After visiting it, I am mad at myself for waiting so long & I am mad at myself for only having two days there! 

One thing you will learn about me as a traveler is that I do not like wasting time. Michael makes fun of the way that I don't like to relax on vacation. Honestly, I just love exploring and I love to jam-pack my days with everything! When it comes to Europe, I basically run on adrenaline cause my body is so so tired from the long long days & I am happy as can be when I am exhausted in Europe, haha! 

Ok, side note over... Back to Milan! My amazing & cute sister in law lived in Milan as an Au Pair, and so she gave us so many recommendations - check out her cute instagram here. We tried to hit as many recommendations as we could, and still didn't manage to get to them all! If you go to Milan, I definitely recommend this pizza place! Probably the best pizza I have ever had and my sister in law would go here with her host family, so we know it is native approved! ;) She also recommended Gelato Giusto, but we were unable to make it on our trip! 

Milan is an interesting city because we didn't really talk about it much in my art history classes. In the Renaissance, Rome & Florence were the centers of the art scene and Milan really took the back seat. Even though Milan wasn't super popular, it still was a place that Leonard Da Vinci worked at times, and is actually home to the famous Last Supper! 

Related image

Along with housing this famous work, Milan actually was the home base for the Sforza family. The Sforza family, who were basically the Medici family of Milan. They had claim to the Duchy of Milan and were rather large patrons of the arts! Leonardo Da Vinci actually traveled to Milan because he was searching for work & he was actually trying to work for the Sforza family as a military engineer.  In his application (see translated version of his application here), Leonardo lists all of his mechanical abilities, and leaves his artistic ones as a small side note! So crazy that his paintings are the reason he is so famous! The Sforza family is actually the reason the Last Supper was even created, because they are the ones that commissioned it! Sadly, I was unable to get in and see the Last Supper when we were in Milan (pro tip, if you are going to Milan, book a space to see the Last Supper ahead of time!).

While we were there, we did get to see the Duomo. The Duomo is a very interesting Cathedral, and one that was quite controversial since it took centuries to build (from 1386 to 1965!). Over its construction, it had 78 architects... speaking of architects, did you know that Leonardo Da Vinic actually contributed to the plans for the Milan Duomo? I only recently learned this and I am constantly amazed by Leonardo's genius! His plans didn't end up being used though, but Leonardo lived right next to the Duomo and would analyze it everyday! Look at his plans below: 

Along with having a bunch of architects,  there are more statues on the Milano Duomo than any other building in the world! The statues total at 3,159! The Duomo really has seen it all, and is quite hard for me to analyze since there are so many things going on stylistically. John Ruskin critiqued the Duomo and said that the cathedral steals from every style in the world and it spoils each one. He also said that the statues look like they were made by common stonemasons. While Ruskin hated it, Mark Twain visited it and loved it and remarked about how grand it was. When you walk in the Duomo, it is jaw-dropping how tall the entire structure is. I am always impressed by how they could build such grand buildings without modern technology! Although the composition is all over the place, I still think the cathedral is beautiful in its own way. 

One thing that is super fun about visiting the Duomo is the ability to climb to the top of it and see the city of Milan & look at the statues up close. I loved this aspect and thought it really was a neat experience! 

One thing that I really loved about the Milano Duomo was the color and texture of the marble & stone used on it. It is really unique compared to others that I have seen and I think it is my favorite marble that I have ever seen on a cathedral. 

From Milan, we traveled to Venice. I will be posting about that soon haha, I started a new job and I am just a little bit behind on writing all my posts! I am so excited to share all the pretty things I have seen in Venice! 



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lake Como!

While we were in Europe, we stopped by Lake Como! We only went for a day trip and it was a lot of fun! We took a train from Milan to Varenna and explored the lake by water bus. Lake Como is really beautiful and we loved the town of Bellagio. We also took the water bus to Lenno, which has Villa del Balianello on it, which is a villa that has been used for a James Bond movie and for a Star Wars movie. We didn't go into the villa, but saw it from outside.

my dad sitting after the long hike up. 

After our trip to the lake, I started to wonder what the history of Lake Como was. The geographical location of Lake Como made me wonder if it had been a location of possible political moves. When I looked it up, it appears that I was correct!

Originally, the city of Como was inhabited by a Celtic tribe. The tribe had chosen to start their city in the neighboring hills surrounding the lake. After the Romans took control of the city, Julius Caesar decided to move the city to the lake. Caesar drained the southern tip of the lake an built a walled city, which is where the city of Como is now located. Isn't it so bizarre that the Ancient Romans were that innovative? I am always blow away by the things they did back then! There is a castle in the hills near the current city of Como, which shows you where the Celtic city used to be. There are also still villas surrounding the lake from the Ancient Roman period.

Como was eventually taken over in 774 by Charlemagne and there it became an important trading city. While under Charlemagne, it was a free commune until it was destroyed by the Milanese. Eventually they made peace and Como was set under the rule of the Visconti and Sforza family of Milan. Under these families, Como became a big producer of wool and silk and were the big suppliers of those products for Milan. This makes me think of my silk scarf and how the silk has so much more history than I realized! Como is actually now the site of the National Silk Institute! 

Overtime, Como was under many different rulers and was constantly changing alliances. It wasn't until 1859 that it was part of the Italian kingdom again.

One other interesting fact: Mussolini, while trying to escape Switzerland after WWII, was captured in the city of Dongo (a city on Lake Como) and was brought to Mezzegra (another Lake Como city). In Mezzegra, he was executed by firing squad. There is actually an American newsreel from the time about the event online - it is surprisingly graphic! I didn't know they were allowed to show things like that back then.

So there ya go! You probably weren't expecting this kind of blog post... I wasn't either! I am sorry if it was kinda boring, I thought it was super interesting!

some nuns enjoying some gelato