Today we are flying back to Milano over the winter landscapes and my mind goes to one of the old Dutch masters who painted only winter landscapes.

Hendrick Avercamp born in Amersterdam in the XVII century painted so many fairy tale winter scenes with people ice skating on frozen canals as the ones we had just left in Groningen. It has been a week of fairy tales; a feast for the senses.

Saturday evening and I am spending it happily immersed

in the last ten years of Mr. Alaia’s work. A living treasure; a master in cutting and shapes; his vision of beauty and women is ever lasting and striking in this second period of his astonishing creativity.  I am delighting as a child in the colors, textures, lines and folds of these wonderful creations.  The exhibition reminds me of the other exhibitions in Florence, New York and here at the Groninger in the mid 90’s where the museum hosted a retrospective of Mr. Alaia’s work of the 20’s century.

 

And now we are getting into the darkest days faster and faster approaching Sinterklaas’ visit here to the Netherlands! We are in Amsterdam and Groningen

for the opening night of Azzedine Alaia’s 21st Century work at the Groningen Museum. While it is wonderful and fascinating to see so many people arriving in Groningen to share this special moment with Azzedine Alaia, a trip around the city at this time of year is a must.

 

The medieval atmosphere that you feel walking around this city gives way to surprises with the groundbreaking modern architecture scattered throughout.What strikes the most is the young population;  a quarter of the city are students and you feel this enthusiasm and energy even in the early dark.

Here the Westpoort brug (bridge) which crosses the Channel and the new 92 meters tall building with undulating curves; it is one of the most environmentally  sustainable office projects in Europe.

 

 No trip to rue du Bac is complete without a stop at the Grande Epicerie.

Located one door from the Church, is the most wonderful grocery store in Paris and one of the best in the world. A foodie paradise, it is perfect to shop to please yourself and to find wonderful holiday presents. My favorite the chouquettes, a great viennoiserie made of choux pastry sprinkled with pearl sugar.


The 8th of December is a Holy day to celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I was in Paris on Thursday and went to the Rue du Bac, to visit the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal where visitors and pilgrims go to pray to St Catherine Laboure’ who received the vision for its design.

I see more and more people in the world (and some non-catholics) wearing the blu medal around their neck.  It is a sign of distinction; people look at each other differently and share in the hope that we can work to make a peaceful world.

 

On the 7th of December every year Milano celebrates its patron, St. Ambrogio especially here at the church he built in the 4th century named in his honor. While the rest of Italy uses the Roman rite in Milano we use the Ambrosian rite which takes the name from our patron saint with differences in the Mass and the liturgical year.

It has two beautiful bell towers and is one of the most ancient churches in the city.

Growing up we would visit this church and attend the opening night of the season
at La Scala, always also on December 7th.  In a long dress and my hair in a chignon, my father would take me with my sister on this traditional tour.
A happy memory of a Christmas’ past.
Posted on: Saturday, December 10th, 2011

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