Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Quiet Tuesday

Tuesday, 30 January, 2018

After a hectic, action packed last two days, I opted for a quiet day at the Villa Skorpion today.

A load of laundry in the morning and some internet work were enough for me leading into tonight's practices.

I did take the new car for a spin to the Esselunga Supermarket in the afternoon.

Esselunga is partnering
with Star Wars

You get a small package
with a Star Wars figure in it
when you check-out

Not sure who the red guy is though.

Flag Team working out

We had a good turnout tonight for both the Flag and Senior practices.

Our main problem tonight was not having a firm grasp of our assignments.

On the bright side, the effort was good tonight.


MAXIMUM Daily Allowance: One Church, One Museum and One R&B Concert

Monday, 29 January, 2018

In 2007, John Grisham published what most bibliophiles consider to be his masterpiece opus, Playing for Pizza. 

This fun novel is based on a season in Italy's Serie A, the highest level of American football in the country.

The protagonist of is fictional American import QB Rick Dockery, whose character is based on real life QB Jason Johnson.

In the book Dockery, who plays for the very real Parma Panthers, comes up with a theory of surviving day-to-day life living and playing American football in Italy.

His mantra is simple: "Visit only one church and one museum MAXIMUM per day."

Good advice.

Today I amplified Rick's motto a bit: "Visit only one church, one museum and one New Orleans based R&B concert MAXIMUM per day."

The day started with the usual train trip into Milan.

A Piaggio

I really need to have one of these mini-workhorse vehicles back in Camarillo.

"Visit only one church . . ."

Basilica Sant'Ambrogio

The Basilica construction began under the guidance of St. Ambrose himself, then the Bishop of Milan, in 379 A.D.

St. Ambrose was one of the great fathers of the early Catholic Church who, besides writing many important papers, converted St. Augustine of Hippo who would himself also become a great father of early Christianity.

Originally it was called the Basilica of the Martyrs in honor of some local 3rd-century martyrs.

Its architectural style is known as Lombardy Romanesque.

Courtyard just outside
the Basilica's entrance

In olden times, during Mass, the unbaptized were not allowed into the Basilica to participate in the Mass. Instead, they would assemble in this courtyard straining to understand what was going on inside the Basilica.

Powerful looking edifice

Art forms in the courtyard

Lots of art forms

Although Mass was not being said, I have been baptized so I entered with a clean heart.

 Pope Pius IX

Colorful Murals EVERYWHERE

"But Bishop,
your mitre is on backwards."


Fine side chapel

 Opulence is OK here

The Crypt under the Main Altar

The body of St. Ambrose is dressed in white and sits slightly higher than the body dressed in red of a 4th-century martyr.

The body of another red clad, 4th-century martyr lays out of our view on the other side of St. Ambrose.

The Main Altar

Mosaic above the Main Altar

The intricately carved
Sarcophagus of Stilicho
from the 4th-century
 Weird head placement

 A Crucifix in a church
is normal enough but . . .

. . . a snake?

Probably not a sign of the Devil in this case.

Milan's powerful Sforza family that ruled the region in the Middle Ages took the snake as part of their family crest.

I'm guessing that the Sforza family probably dropped a coin or two into the Basilica's coffers over the years, thus the prominently displayed snake. 

Baptismal Font

Jesus overlooking any and
all baptisms in the Basilica

Colorful frescoes are a must

Lots and . . .

. . . lots of colorful frescoes

Back in the courtyard after ending
a good visit inside the Basilica

Great carvings

Catalan artist Antoni Gaudí was definitely not the first to use animals on an outer church column. 

How did they do this without
any computer help?

I liked the sun rays

A Bishop's Crest

I like lions too

One last look at the
Basilica Sant'Ambrogio

" . . . one museum . . ."

The one I wanted to visit was located near the Duomo but would not open for another two and a half hours. I was lucky that it was open at all on a Monday.

Most museums in Italy are closed on Mondays.

So I opted to roam a bit while I waited for the museum's doors to open.

 Memorial to the Milanese
citizens who have died in wars


That's lunch my friends, a delicious arancini alla ragu from this sidewalk stand, located just outside the entrance to Milan's Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, hit the spot.

 Pastoral Quad of the University

How Bohemian!

I avoided this temptation

Don't ask me how.

 Backside entrance to Milan's
Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II

I opted to board the Metro here for my first underground ride in Milan.

I was headed to . . .

. . . this busy Piazzale

It is today a huge, open traffic
circle full of action

Now why did I come her you ask?

Well, for a historical reason from the tail end of World War II.

Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, were executed nearby and then their corpses, along with a few other recently killed fascists' bodies, were brought here to be put on public display.

That their bodies were being brought to this particular piazzale was no accident.

The year previous, 15 Italian partisans were captured fighting against the fascists, were summarily executed and their bodies were put on public display in this very same piazzale.

The crowd that gathered in the Piazzale Lorreto on the day that the fascist bodies were on display were in a blood lust mode from all reports of the day.

Mussolini and Petacci's bodies were beaten, spat on and even urinated upon by the mob.

Eventually, in part to display the bodies and in part to avoid further atrocities by the crowd, the fascist bodies were hung on meat hooks from a girder of a gasoline station under construction on Piazzale Loreto.

Benito Mussolini is second from the
left, Claretta Petacci is in the middle

There were no markers about this grim 1945 event that I could see but . . .

. . . there was one for the
15 Partisans who the fascists
executed in 1944

Just another random church

Sorry, I simply can NOT go over my daily limit.

On the Piazza degli Affari,
"Towering Middle Finger"
by Maurizio Cattelan, 2009

Exactly how I feel every morning when a awaken to hear about the latest, ridiculous Trump tweets.

This sculpture has a 1930s fascist built edifice behind it in this photo. Behind me is Italy's major stock exchange, the Borsa.

The Towering Middle Finger was a symbol about how the 99% feel about the 1% in political and financial power.

 On the Borsa building

A drink sounded good but I'm
more of a Fanta man myself

Finally, it was almost 3:00 p.m., time for my designated museum, the Circoloco Bianchi Duomo, to open.

The have a special exhibition
about the Knights Templar

That's a must for me, especially since this exhibit closes next Monday.

All of this leads me to a great topic of discussion, "Italians and Time."

At 3:00 p.m. sharp, I entered the museum. I was greeted by a helpful young lady who informed me that I needed to return in an hour because they simply were not ready to open at their advertised time.

Of course . . .

I couldn't wait that long because I had an appointment in the city of Cantù at 8:00 p.m.

Thus, I disappointedly trudged towards the Cadorna Train Station to return to the Villa Skorpion.

Lots of English language books
at this fine little spot

". . . and one New Orleans based R&B concert MAXIMUM per day."

Good friend David Lassen is heavily into music and knows of several groups and artists of which I simply have zero knowledge.

One of David's favorites, Bob Malone, who has been a keyboardist for years with John Fogerty's band, was doing a solo tour on the Continent.

Monday night he would play
at 8:00 p.m. in Cantù

The city of Cantù is located about 30 minutes from Venegono Superiore and I now have a car, GAME ON!

"Italians and Time" Part Due: When I arrived home to double check on the concert the starting time had been changed to 9:30 p.m.

 Oh, well, David says the
Bob Malone is worth it so I was OK
with the change of kickoff time

The venue is in a cave
like basement music club/bar

It sits below the Quadrifoglio (Four Leaf) Ristorante-Pizzeria that served a solid margherita pizza and a strong after dinner café.

 With Bob Malone before the concert

Bob is a great guy, easy going and, soon I was to find out, extremely talented.

He informed me that the concert managers had moved the concert's starting time, on this Monday night, back to 10:00 p.m. which led him to ask, "Do people work here?"

Maybe . . .

An intimate setting where 50 of us
equaled a packed house

Bob Malone, who lives in Studio City, California, was AWESOME!

His R&B singing style is a cross between New Orleans jazz and Delta blues. He has a definite Doctor John feel to his show.

His two sets were about an hour in length each. During the intermission, I bought his newest CD which he told me he recorded in a friend's studio in Camarillo, California.

Small world. 

Here is Bob Malone in action

How I got both to and from Cantù is a mystery to me, thank goodness for a good GPS app on my phone.

"Italians and Time" Part Tre: On Sunday, while Bumba was driving me back from our day trip to Como and Brunate, we got stuck at a railroad crossing.

It was the same one that Bumba had been stuck at for 10 minutes when he came to pick me up.

As it turns out three trains go past this street in about a 10 minute span at certain times of the day.

Instead of lowering and raising the crossing barriers as each train approaches and goes by, the railroad authorities wait the full ten minutes until all three trains make their passes before lifting the barriers . . .

"Italians and Time" Always interesting 

Monday was a GREAT
walking day for me!

Just another fabulous day living in Italy!