January 15, 2012
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
This week preparations planned in 2011 are now starting to grow in earnest in 2012 as we see another new fashion season approaching. Milano is hosting Men’s Fashion Week and many visitors are in the city these days. It is always interesting to see Milano with foreign eyes and appreciate this city and its treasures again. I have never understood why because there is great business to do here in Milano, many don’t even try to know or understand the magic of our past and present, so here are some of my favorites.
The first and sometimes only image people remember is The Duomo. Like a confection rising up from the piazza with a view from its roof across Central Milan, this image is celebrated around the world. And the most celebrated opera house in the world, La Scala, is nearby.
Another architectural masterpiece rarely visited is Giò Ponti’s skyscraper conceived by him for the Pirelli Company as a symbol of the economic miracle Milano went through recovering from the devastation of war. It was this period that reinforced the Milanese sense of business and industry that has been our reputation since the Dukes of Sforza in the Renaissance. A visit to the 31st floor now open to the public is a great discovery of Giò Ponti’s vision of the Belvedere and his “metaphor for the infinite urban horizon” of civilization.
It is a must to find some time to visit the Biblioteca Ambrosiana. Founded by Cardinal Borromeo in the 17th century, his library has an important collection of manuscripts including a Codex of Leonardo Da Vinci. Borromeo also collected art and started a university for Doctors where study and culture joined. Raphael’s cartoon, and Botticelli as well as Titian are in this collection. Here in the pictures three drawings by Leonardo, articulated wing, inclinometor, parachute.
Milano is the capital of industrial design, true, but continues today to be a leader in fine arts. To balance the beauty of the treasures of Brera with Piero della Francesca and all the Italian masters, the new Museum of Novecento is an impressive witness to the history of Italian art in the 20th Century from the “Futurism” of the past to the art of the present.
Maurizio Cattelan who lives in Milan and New York now has a large retrospective of his work in the Guggenheim in NYC. Last year his sculpture L.O.V.E was installed in front of the Milano Stock Exchange. It caused some comments, as art does. Here his colouring and activity book.
It might sound strange but a visit to Cimitero Monumentale is a real discovery. It is a very large cemetery conceived at the time of unification in the middle of the 19th Century. Since then it has become a who’s who for the architects and sculptors of Italy from modernist to classical with size and composition all demanding attention as you walk around. It even has its own museum and tours. Here in the picture a tomb sculpture by Arnoldo Pomodoro, 1969.
At a walking distance from the Monumentale, at the entrance of the inner city, since 1880. Antica trattoria della Pesa has served Milanese the best risotto “al salto” (fried) in town. The name of La Pesa comes from the weights (pesa) used to calculate the taxes on merchandise being brought to markets, including the salt from the coast, a very expensive commodity traveled on horse carts with armed guards during the Renaissance. Another curiosity at La Pesa is that Ho Chi Minh lived here, after he came from Paris where he was chef patissier with Escoffier.