Sunday, June 03, 2007

Switzerland Journal: Day Five

It was Sunday, I was in Milan, and fashion journals rested on the marble topped table next to our bed. It all felt so very European, so continental. Breakfast was included, so we "Yanks" regrouped bright and early downstairs for breakfast. There were lots of "firsts" to try at the seemingly endless buffet: Greek AND Swiss yogurt, seven different kinds of sausages, an array of cheeses, loads of fruit, juices, breads and pastries, egg dishes...a dab of each was irresistible, and the coffee with foamy caps was perfect to linger over. Why oh why didn't I take a picture of all this?????
My only excuse: We had been out late and up early. And it there was a lot of orange in the dining room.
Funny thing about staying in a five star hotel: I have had that privilege several times now, and each time we manage to check in, dash out to see whatever city we are staying in, return at midnight, and check out early the next day, without seeing or enjoying all the wonders available at such esteemed establishments. Maybe someday we'll go to some city we don't care about and just lolly gag around the hotel for a couple of days.
That'll never happen.
Every city has SOMETHING to go see. You just have to WANT to see. So you can take a picture. And post it on your blog.
Right Lovella?
After breakfast we checked out of the hotel, and waited outside for a cab to take us back to the castle.
Now isn't that a fun way to start the day? Can't you just hear it?
"Darling, after breakfast would you be a dear and call a taxi? I'd like to go to castle early today, before it gets too hot."
Here's my darlin' husband, with his umpteenth cup of espresso, waiting for the cab.
Sherman has donned his new hat. (SWOON)
Now all the women want to stand next to Sherman.
The bell man, not to be ignored, presented me with a sprig of jasmine, with it's stem carefully wrapped, to prevent any of the stem's milky sap getting on my fingers. How charming, how thoughtful. Ahhh...I could get used to this!
The streets were almost empty, so the ride to the castle was quite pleasant. We gawked at the civic art work, and wondered what it was meant to express.
(Update: It is a needle and thread...and the word "millinery" comes from the word "Milano", see the comments of this blog from Kate, my millinery guru and co-traveler. She was the one who snapped the picture above!)
Maybe it was just a celebration of color. Maybe this young fashionista had similar inspiration. Or maybe she was just dressing wisely for a very hot day. Love the hemline and the shoes sweetie. Enjoy them while you can!
The castle floor plan. A six pointed star shape!
I really wish I could have had a tour. Who is this guy, and why is an angel hanging on to his leg, instead of fluttering overhead?
This is over the castle's entrance, so I am guessing he was one of the castle owners at one time. Bernie and I really should get busy and have a similar piece of art created of us to go over our front door. It would be such a perfect touch! I suppose it would look best with a horse, but maybe we can have Tiggie and Hart swirled around our ankles instead. It's a thought.
We headed into the extensive museum, which began with old Roman pillars, and then wound through the ages. At first I had a hard time being interested...I just don't care that much about the various styles of columns. But later on my interest perked up...once I realized there were fashions to be seen here too. I loved the delicate details of the marble carvings. You could see each link in the knight's chain mail, and the expression on each face drew me in. I thought about how the artist chose to use contemporary (to his era) clothing on those around the Christ child. I wondered if our era has created any enduring art, showing worship of the Christ child by people in modern clothing, even modern work clothes. How interesting to think about a marble panel with people in modern military garb, pastors in both clergical regalia and Hawaiian shirts as seems to be the spectrum of modern ministry attire. Our current pastor refers to his robes as his "sin fightin' suit." Just some random thinking along the way.
More mysteries: Is that a broken sword? I did grab all the handouts for each room, but didn't have time to read it at the time. If I find them and there is some information, I'll update this later. Meantime, I like the guy's outfit. Wasp waisted, pointy boots, gloves. Hard to imagine that when this piece of art was created, the subject wasn't dressed up for some theater production.
Wonder how the dewberries are doing back home? Boysenberries? Raspberries? Nice motif.
As some of my readers may know, I created a program at my college to name a poet laureate each year, someone who would be tasked with capturing campus life via poetic expression. The person who wins the right to hold that position has a lot of publicity splashed around about them, and our original winner has his picture several places around campus. I myself took his picture, as I happened to have my camera ready when he first came by to meet me and be interviewed for a press release. I sure hope David doesn't see this, as I am pretty sure we don't have the budget for this kind of acknowledgement.
The profile of the poet laureate. Wonder what his poems were like? What beautiful lips the man had.
Doesn't this just make you smile? So often Madonna and Child sculptures just leave me cold. This one has such a cheery looking toddler, and mom looks pretty comfortable with her son as well. I'm thinking it would make a great Christmas card.
Not sure what this was about...I think it would be a great ad for bladder control products. He seems to be in distress, with an urgent need to find the WC.
15th century tapestry about Noah's Ark. It was just huge, and since I have studied tapestry (a form of weaving where the weft wraps around every warp, rather that shooting from side to side) I know that this art form is extremely time consuming. The original "cartoons" or drawing for some of these tapestries are still around, and signed by the artist. I wonder about the women who sat for probably most of their lives weaving the tapestry. Was it one woman? How did she feel about Noah's Ark? What did she think about as she worked with the yarn on the wrong side of the piece, likely for decades?
Pretty fancy outfit there! Not sure about "The Scream" motif though. Very punk, not at all like you, who seems to be so elegant.
I'd loved to have seen his lacework in color, but he seems to me to have a rather unpleasant countenance. He's Benedict the Umpteenth.
This guy, on the other hand looks some one who would be very smooth and gracious one moment, and then would betray you in a trice in some political maneuver. Or have a very dry wit.
When I say big tapestries, I mean BIG. Tapestry were not only used to tell stories, but also to insulate rooms, room that in castles were often enormous. I can't say I would enjoy having this picture in my room, but perhaps the castle owner really liked it. Again, not sure what the Pope was doing in this picture but he is clearing "winning."
My favorite tapestry. Elijah and Elisha. I wonder how many people under the age of thirty would look at this tapestry and not even have a guess about the subject matter. All over Europe I saw art, from the 600's until the late 1800's based on Scripture. Then that subject seemed to disappear. I thought about the people from 600 until now, and suspect that they had other interests as well, but the Biblical stories seemed to always be the focus of their art. Now possibly the church's financial support of artist led to the subject matter, but castles had artwork that was clearly not commissioned by the church, yet Biblical topics were still the most common theme.
If I was to select a tapestry from the collection, I would have wanted this one. It contained several stories that featured Elijah and Elisha.
The men had gone on ahead of us, Kate and I were enjoying discussing the art and the clothing styles and all of that stuff. Sherman came back to check on us. I wonder if he was wondering what we exactly were doing that was taking so long.
Here's what was going on. Flirting...
Pinching...don't you try to look innocent, I felt that!
A little more flirting....
Sherman gave us a look, and Kate and I sobered up and got back being proper, and continued on, properly viewing the exhibit.
The more I looked at this the more I the sheep on the hillside behind the couple.
Grief portrayed so realistically, it was made your heart heavy even just looking at the hand holding Christ.
We never did figure out what this was but the angels surrounding the doorway seemed so expectant, it was had to pull away from this piece.

The body posture of this little piece struck me, the motion of breeze playing against her skirt, and the strenght of her body as she walked. An angel with juliet sleeves...again, modern for that time period. Would we consider portraying angels in contemporary dress?

A rambunctious Child, this bebe reminded me of my children,who never seemed to rest placidly against me, but rather were always reaching and leaning out to enter into the world around them, while anchoring themselves with one hand on my blouse. The mother looks so childlike herself. Did the artist create based on his own experiences with babies?

What did this look like before it was broken? And where did it go? It must be the three muses I think. Mrs. Vanderbuilt had three daughters and used the three girl muse motif thoughout her home, which I thought was a dear touch. Considering the tummies and strong upper legs, fleshy backs and hips, I think I like these girls! Not quite Rubenesque, but healthy.

A hat of sort. Love the hair and the flower. I'd enjoy having her as a statue in my home.
The details of the lace on the pillow, the tassles, the seashells, but most of all the serene face. It was so tempting to touch and smooth out the folds of his tunic. (He also looked a bit like Matthew McConaughey.)
The three dimensional details just blew my mind, all those horses and I could almost see the dust rising from the field of battle.
Fashion break...a white cotton skirt with a darling hem, and TWO purses. She looked so cool and fresh!
Several of the rooms had beautiful ceilings. This orange and blue number was caught on camera by Kate, the other rooms just didn't come out as well. Too dark, and flash was not permitted.
It was just a passing flirtation, a few glances, a sigh, and then a kiss...I was lonely, my husband wasn't paying attention to me, and before I knew it, my heart was being sought by a handsome stranger.
Bernie, looking up, saw the indiscretion, and ablaze with jealosy, immediately challenged the man to a fight. I was captivated by his valor, his passion, and fell in love with my husband all over again.
(Actually, the bust looks a bit like Bernie, don't you think? Ahh, what's a trip to Italy without a little Italian amore? And isn't amazing how close they let you get to museum art work in Italy?)
The real reason why we were at this particular museum was to see the unfinished Michangelo Pieta, known as the Rondanini Pieta. Bernie had written a paper about Michangelo in college and the opportunity to see this work of his art was of particular interest to him.

It is the legs, the almost finished part that really captivated me. A big chunk of white marble, and out of it comes legs so realistic you can almost see skin and pulse. Kate said she got to see a museum display of several pieces of incomplete human form sculptures and that it was just awesome to see how the pieces emerge from the marble. I kept thinking of the Magician's Nephew, the C.S. Lewis story that covers the creation of Narnia. From mud animals appeared, the same sort of feeling was in this scupture. As if at any moment it would just sigh and the rest of the figure emerge.
Michelangelo died before he completed this work, and reportedly he was undecided about several aspects of the design; the placement of the feet of Christ in particular.
We needed to catch a taxi to the train station. Walking through the castle courtyard, it was difficult not to linger and take more pictures.

Bernie pulling my suitcase, wearing a backpack with his stuff. It was HOT, and he informed me later that from now on, all overnight luggage would be handled by myself. It was pretty brutal pulling the suitcase over cobblestones, and it really did make me rethink my travel needs.
Kate and I are still capturing street fashion as we walk along.
Having an orange red bra should be of interest to everyone, don't you think? Love the dress, love the shoes, I'll have to think about peeping bra lines.

Friends, and fashionistas...wonder if we are on someone else's blog for street fashion?
A sweet kiss by the fountain.

And another kiss...maybe we should head home now.
With one last look, we say good bye to the Italian castle, and catch a cab to the train station.
It is a massive place!
People everywhere, some in orange shorts!
One pidgeon seemed to be on his way to somewhere too.
Fashion watching in the train station: Very high heels with knee length jeans.
Colorful trash cans and orange, of course.
And a future fashionista. Great look with those fun polka dotted round toed flats.

Clever Kate dashed into the shop in the train station and stocked up on fashion magazines to read on the trip home. I LOVE traveling by train, it is so comfortable and fun to visit face to face, share snacks, and be able to walk around and visit the ladies room without disrupting the trip. The four hours just flew by.
My one shot out of the back of the train, catching a huge waterfall that Sherman says is always running on the mountain, even in the heat of summer.
Lake Como, with gorgeous resort places around it. A quick train station stop at Como allowed us a glimpse of more Italian romance.

Orange buildings. These kinds of cube apartment complexes were in several places, sometimes in red or blue, but mostly it seemed like they were colored orange.
Home again in St. Gallen. It was very warm, and a cool drink in the patio in shorts sure felt good. Switzerland was having an unseasonable heat wave. We sat outside, and had cheese and wine, and other treats until the sun went down.
Then we climbed up on the rooftop and enjoyed the cool air and listened to the birds and the bells and the amazing town of St. Gallen in the moonlight. It had been another fabulous day and that was a perfect ending.


Demara said...

WOW! It was another long day, phew I'm tired of travelling now for a bit anyway, thanks again...and I think my favourite part was seeing all the beautiful fashion.

Lovella ♥ said...

Oh I felt terribly excited when I saw that I own one item that one of the local Italians also had.
I bought red round toe flats with white polka dots this summer. Phew, I'm not a total fashion loss. Mind you, the little gal could just be a Canadian tourist.

I've had this crazy desire to wear orange in the last few days.

I must say, your Bernie does have a possessive streak in him doesn't he? How fun to tease him mercilessly, flirting with those men. Oh Jill, you make museums such fun.

I was wondering how many blogs you would be showing up in and smiled when you mentioned the same thing. It does make you wonder eh?

Kate said...

Ahhhhh la bella Italia! Missing it already. Milliners take note that colorful bit of sculpture is a needle and thread piercing the street and coming back up. My picture was snapped from the taxi and doesn't do it justice but you can see the knot eh? Remember that the word millinery is derived from Milano, the center of Italian fashion. I just LOVE Italy. K Q:-)

Marie Christopher said...

Oh, my goodness!
I appreciate the pictures and narrative --- seems almost like being there with you all.

Julie said...

Jill, if I ever get to go to Europe I am not going without you!!
What a great narative/photo job of capturing your experiences!!
I specially loved the fairy princess chandelier and the romantic door in your previous post and the catedrals and sculptures and tapestry (I would love to have the Elija/Elisha one!)
I LOL at your 'guy' with bladder problems...I noticed you didn't flirt with him!!!!
Thank you for the wonderful arm chair tour!!

Becky said...

OHhh, I almost missed this entry of yours! I was at that Milan train station a couple of times. We sat out front with the drunks, almost having one of them fall asleep on my lap ~ it was the only shade in the area ~ rather an awkward moment! Lake Como AHhhhhhhh.... We had far too short of a stay in Belagio. What a beautiful place! I must go back! Thanks for sharing the memories! It would be far too much fun travelling with friends (not that Ray isn't my friend, but he doesn't have the same interest in the fashions) I would love to go back in real time!