We had only arranged a short visit to Milan for 2 nights with 1 full day. We arrived on the Sunday afternoon at 1.30pm. Lucky for us the train wasn't late as we had arranged to see the last supper by Leonardo DaVinci at 3.30pm. This was the only opportunity we had as the convent, now museum was closed on Mondays. Sara, the person we had rented the apartment from was really great as she had pre purchased the tickets for us along with metro tickets so we wouldn't waste any time. She also picked us up from the railway station in her car and took us to the apartment so we could drop off our luggage. The last Supper tour was only for about 25 minutes long, with an English speaking guide and was limited to about 20 people. While they whizzed everyone through, it was probably long enough. The fresco is about 21 feet in length painted onto one wall of the convent. According to the guide, DaVinci painted the last Supper directly onto dried plaster. Apparently, as explained to us, the usual process was to paint onto fresh damp plaster so that the paint would seep into the wall and bond. This meant that it tended to last and endure for much longer. Da Vinci was more known as a sculptor and didn't want to be rushed by having to paint to the time dictated by damp but drying plaster. This meant that the paint never bonded properly to the plaster and the work has therefore deteriorated significantly. Very little of DaVinci's original painting remains, with large areas having been repainted over the years. Regardless, it was still worth the visit.
The next day we visited the Milano Cathedral or Duomo.... yes, yet another one! The interesting thing (at least for me) about this particular Cathedral was that there were 2 dead Cardinals in glass cases. One had died in 1927 and the other in the 1950's. While they were all covered up with their cardinal vestments, shoes and with silver death masks, their dead dried fingers were exposed.....which of course was a good photo opportunity for me. I googled later and found that both had been beatified, one step toward being made a Saint. This explained why some people were rubbing the Cardinals name plate outside the glass case as if some prayer would be answered or special power would flow from the act (sorry if I offend the Catholics out there).
We had a wander past the exclusive boutiques and shops selling stuff that I could never afford.... you know those shops that have only 10 items for sale in little pigeon holes with at least 5 sales assistants ready to pounce. A Prada bag caught my eye priced at €1,700 ....or well over $2,000. While I know I'm a complete Philistine when it comes to such things as designer labels, but to me they looked pretty ordinary and very much the same as those Prada and Louis Vuitton bags that those African guys were flogging on the bridge outside San Marco Piazza in Venice. I took a photo for you to decide whether its value for money.
We'd arranged for Sara to give us a half day tour in the afternoon. We thought given the limited time we had in Milan that this might be a good option. She took us to see the castle which dates back to the 1200's as well as some areas off the tourist route. Not being much of a history buff, Jane reminded me that it was this castle (or a Hollywood version) that was in the TV series the Borgia's. Sara took us to see old Milan where people like her Grandmother had lived in typical Italian houses that overlooked communal courtyards. She said that was where poor people used to live, but now it had become trendy to renovate them as apartments. Close to one of these buildings there was a small off shoot of the canal where there was an old communal laundry that had been preserved, complete with flat stones to rub the clothes on. Sara said her Grandmother had used this laundry when she was younger. Sara finished the tour about 7pm taking us to one of her favourite restaurants. It didn't open until 7.30pm and looked fully booked. She negotiated with the owner (who didn't speak English) for us to get a table as long as we didn't stay past 9pm. The food was fabulous and not at all expensive. It was not a very large place and from the outside you wouldn't know it was a restaurant... yet every table was taken, so clearly popular with the locals.
We left Milan thinking that it was worthy of a longer visit.