Monday, June 20, 2005

Milan and Bern: The Misty Mountains

We're trying so hard not to rush, but I just have to squeeze in a bit of time to see the Portniari chapel, so we take the metro back to the Navigli district (shuttered again as if nothing had happened last night...) and walk to Sant'Eustorgio again. It looks like it's not to be though as the chapel seems to be closed on mondays. As my Dad and I wander into the church though, we realize that the back doors under the crypt are open. Two women are busily tending the gardens and they've opened all the doors to the sacristy and the chapel, so we furtively sneak back there and get a peek at the brilliant colors of the Michelozzo fresco. Luck has really been with us this time.

I read belatedly that the Metro stop that we've been using near the hotel -- Loreto -- marks the square where Mussolini's body was strung up after he was killed. My Dad remembers the ghoulish nastiness of it, and I'm happy enough never to have seen it.

Helene asked about the train station in Milan -- I have to say, it is one of the largest but also most confusing stations Ive been in in Europe. For all it's gargantuan architecture, it's hot and bothersome, and we wandered around so disconsolately, we almost missed the train, which with Swiss efficiency pulled out of the station on the DOT.

Travelling in first class is new to me, and the whole air conditioning thing is much appreciated, but of course what was most fun was the gorgeous ride through the lake region and the mountains.

We passed Lake Maggiore which was an extraordinary color (the light of the sky all day was an extraordinary color too) and then moved into the mountains. I couldn't help but recall that I'd read J.R.R. Tolkien passed through the region and found the inspiration for Rivendell at the Lauterbrunnen valley. As I looked up and down these positively lush valleys with their streams and waterfalls and saw the gathering clouds over the Alps, I thought that his picture of most of Middle Earth must have come from this area.

Spectacular scenery flew by the windows and when a small crowd got off at Spienz on their way to Interlaken, I couldn't help but want to trail after them into the mountains. That we'll do on Wednesday though...

More to come on Bern soon...

No comments: