We’re back in Milan, which seems like a very big city after Vernazza.
It’s heavenly to be in our hotel, the Berna, which was the first place we stayed after arriving in Italy. I highly recommend it. Comfortable, quiet, walking distance from the train station, very helpful staff. It seems luxurious after our shoddy creepy apartment in Cinque Terre. We have only two days left in Italy : (. It’s been such a wonderful trip!
So today we go out for pizza for breakfast, as usual (I’ll have to find a way to break myself of that habit once I’m home again. . .) and walk around the city. We sit on a bench at the dog park for a while and watch the pups play and then we walk to a modern art museum. I feel a little nervous walking on the big, wide avenues because a couple of seedy-looking men have already come up to us and and thrust official-looking documents in our faces in an attempt to hustle us. When we first arrived in Milan, in fact, at the beginning of our trip, a man crossed the street and approached us quite aggressively with some story about needing milk for his baby. It was unnerving, especially since there was no one else around and it was dark. Rick pointed out that there are video cameras mounted on the street corners, so I suppose our every move—and the muggers’—are being recorded, though I don’t think that makes much difference at the moment of the mugging. Only later, which wouldn’t do us much good since we’re leaving so soon. . .
Back to the art museum. There’s a very interesting video exhibit by American artist Tony Oursler. Large, amorphous forms are scattered throughout the bottom floor of the museum.
I’m not sure what they’re made of—they could be plaster, papier mâché or even balloons. The important thing is that parts of human faces, mainly eyes and lips, are projected onto the forms. There are no noses or eyebrows. They’re really strange looking.
The eyes are huge and highly magnified, and they blink and look this way and that. There’s a muted voice in the background—I’m assuming it’s the artist’s—rambling on about various things (mental detritus, my young friend Jordan would call it).
Upstairs is another exhibit I really enjoy: it consists of tiny little stages and houses, only a few inches square, made of painted cardboard, wire, etc. (Again, I’m not sure what they’re made of because naturally we’re not allowed to touch.) There are teensy papier mâché and wire figures on the stages and in the open rooms of the tiny houses. The houses remind me of the wonderful dollhouse I got for Christmas one year from a doting grandma, three stories high, with tiny perfect furniture and miniscule human figures whose limbs could be bent and posed however you wanted. I usually bent the male and female figures into compromising positions on the beds—I was at that age. Anyway, the fun thing about these tiny stages and houses is that each one is attached by a long flat strip of metal to an iPod, which projects movies onto them. On one of the stages, for example, there’s a little tube that runs along the top of the stage (like a catwalk, but a tube), and there’s a little red figure, maybe half an inch long, worming his way through the tube on his stomach. When he gets to the end he turns around and worms his way back. A comment on the futility of modern life, perhaps? The rat race, hamsters on an exercise wheel, the usual depressing analogies to our modern lives?
At this point the grumpy Italian guard comes up to me and forbids me to take any more photos. So no pics from the tiny-stage exhibit. Sorry!
We find the best gelato of the whole trip on the walk back to our hotel. Even better than Bologna! I get a scoop of deep dark chocolate with pieces of candied orange peel in it, and a scoop of dulce de leche, full of big hunks of soft milky caramel. As we say in LA, OMG!!!!!!! Now we’re resting for a bit until we can cram some more food in.