What seems like our annual trip to Italy plus first day adventures – 3/17/17

I am not going to say a whole lot about our trip here. Flying internationally these days is like childbirth. The only reason why you do it more than once is because you forget how bad it is. Our misadventures include a very warm cabin temperature for 10 hours, a security re-screen at Heathrow which makes us almost miss our connection that we had an hour and a half to accomplish, a man throwing up in the aisle between Sarah and my seats, and an endless passport control line in  Milan where we vie with the passengers of other flights for superiority while standing in line. Other than those things? A piece of cake.

We get to Milan and catch a taxi which brings us to our hotel, The Hotel Berna. The Berna has an excellent location near the railroad station which will be handy tomorrow when we start our journey south to Florence.

After a fitful night’s sleep for Sarah and me, we go down for our hotel’s award winning breakfast. Wow, it is really good!

Breakfast st Hotel Berna

Then we catch a taxi to the Pinacoteca di Brera. We spend about three hours enjoying ourselves in the museum. Here are some of my favorites:

Ran across this saint in Arezzo last year and did not know who he was. Today question solved at the Brera! This man got the rawest of all deals in the Old Testament. Horrible afflictions were given him in a wager between Satan and God. The leperous saint is Giobbe or in English, Job.

Unknown saint from Arezzo
Saint Giobbe identified in Milan!

I love learning new things. Here are a group of saints in what I used to think was just a deteriorating background. But here’s the real story. These rather static figures went out of fashion when the more realistic figures of the Renaissance arrived. The gold leaf was too precious just to discard with the old paintings so they scraped it off and used it again. The orange paint was the underlay for the gold leaf.

Saints on a previously gold background

Here is a painting by Jacopo Bellini, the father of Giovanni Bellini. In Venice we will see the younger Bellini’s fabulous triptych at the Frari. In it the Madonna appears to be practically stepping out of the frame. In this much earlier picture by Jacopo you can begin to see the elements of the son’s later style. The Christ child looks as if he is leaning forward to escape his mother’s arms.

Jacopo Bellini’s Madonna and Child

Finally here is my absolute favorite of the day, Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus. I love the realistic everyday people that Christ and his followers have become in this painting. Christ blesses bread while the others look on wondering what he is doing.

Caravaggio’ Supper at Emmaus

Now we head off to lunch. We settle on the Mo’Puglia Bistrot which has been recommended by someone on Facebook. It is pretty good.

After lunch we catch a cab, pick up our luggage and head to the train station for a train to Florence. The high speed train to Florence takes less than 2 hours. It is comfortable and quick and seems like a good time for Sarah and I to nap.

We are renting apartments in Florence right in the center of the old town. We have stayed here before and except for the terrible wifi that we hope they can fix tomorrow, everything is great.

Our living room in the Prisco apartment
We have a nice kitchen with a great gas stove
Looking across the hall to Sarah’s little apartment
Sarah’s living room

Sarah and I make a quick run down the street to pick up some staples. Sarah is charming talking to the shopkeeper in her rudimentary Italian. Our little neighborhood has it all. Within a block or so are a bakery, butcher, deli, tavern, and restaurant. We head down to the restaurant, Trattoria Marione for dinner. Afterward we head back upstairs and allow our thoroughly jet lagged selves some sleep.

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