Thursday, June 1, 2006

See "L'Ultima Cena" (The Last Supper) in detail.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, pictures are not allowed at Cenacolo Vinciano in Milan. However, I found a zoomable image of The Last Supper.

At this site you can also see the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie which houses the Leonardo masterpiece, as well as the fresco on the opposite wall, a crucifixion scene by Giovanni Donato Montofarno.

And this is beautiful Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses the Cenacolo Vinciano.

Sorry Romeo, but Juliet's the star these days.

Forget the Arena, the trendy shops and restaurants, the piazzas, castles, bridges and statues. More than any other reason, tourists come to Verona to because of Signora Giulietta Capuleti.

The attraction is Juliet's house, her statue and of course, the famous balcony. We know that the house did belong to the Capuleti family, but was there really a Giulietta? We don't know. And the famous balcony, which will cost 4 Euro for a brief cameo before hordes of rowdy tourists?


The balcony was constructed in the 20th century, at the request of romance-hungry tourists.

The scene at Juliet's house is a horrid tourist zoo. Frankly, I couldn't get a good picture of the statue because of the hordes elbowing each other to pose with her, and rub her right breast for good luck. Look again at the picture above. See how shiny her right breast is? It's very disturbing to see such enthusiastic and public groping.

For many people, Juliet is not just a story. They look to her for help in their love lives. There are two walls at the entryway allotted for Juliet-letter graffiti.

There's even a "Club di Giulietta" devoted to answering letters to the late Miss Capulet. Why do they think they can get help for their love lives from a fourteen-year old whose solution to her own amorous conundrum was suicide?

In Verona there is a house that once belonged to the Montecchi/Montague family, but it doesn't draw even a fraction of the interest in the Capuleti/Capulet home. Boy, in this feud,it's clear to see which family won in the public relations arena.

Incidentally, some streets in Verona bear names used in Shakespeare's play. I saw Via Mercuzio and Via Montecchi while we were driving around.

I understand that closer to home, the Eastern Washington town of Othello has a Desdemona street.

P.S. Charles Dickens' impressions of Verona are in Chapter 8 of "Pictures from Italy." Back in his day, as it is now, the biggest tourist draw was Juliet's house. Some things just get worse over time.

Wines of the Veneto, to the lees.

Verona really is a beautiful city. Cosmopolitan, ancient, scenic, historic. The sidewalks are made of marble! Beautiful, beautiful. But probably hellish when it rains.

After our guide Alberto led us through the arena, Piazza delle Erbe, the various other piazze and the Scaglieri tombs, we took a break in a historic wine bar.

This was our opportunity to taste some wines of the Veneto. I've been reading "La Cucina Italiana" for years, often resenting their effusive descriptions of Veneto varietals, because I just never could find them in the U. S. to taste them for myself. At long last, my chance.

Chief among the Veneto varieties is Amarone, a red of great depth, ending with a slightly bitter aftertaste. ("Amaro" is the Italian word for bitter.) I tried a sweet white, Recioto. It was gloriously smooth, with so many layers of fruit and flowers - I could have sipped on that one glass for an hour of revelation!

This is how wine rounds out a lovely Verona afternoon.

Salute, John, Barbara, Beverly and Sanni!

Cin cin, Arianna!

And salute, Cherri!

What Italian Gyms Can Do for You.

I wish I'd seen it myself.

Cherri and Liz were seated on the subway in Milan, when a woman wearing sheer linen pants boarded and planted her back against the vertical support pole right in front of them. Her black thong was clearly visible. With both hands full with shopping bags, how was she going to steady herself on the train?

When the train started to pull away, Cherri and Liz were treated to a demonstration of the great potential of Gluteus Maximus. La Signora firmly grasped the vertical pole, with both cheeks. And thus she steadied herself for the rest of the ride.

Scusi, Signora! Chi e la sua personal trainer, per favore?

Dear Sueann Ramella:

Saw a portrait in Genoa of a woman that must have been your Italian great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-many=more=greats-grandmother. The portrait dates from the days when Rubens and Van Dyck were in Liguria, influencing Genovese artists. (You do the research, girl.)

I know you descended from her, because she was centuries ahead of her time in fashion sense. On her feet were pointy-toed shoes! She obviously knew those were going to be "da moda" at the time her fabulous descendant was playing resident What Not To Wear expert at NWPR. Oh, I also know she's your ancestor, because....SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!

(Everybody join in the chorus now, "SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL.....!!")

Photos were not allowed in that museum, sorry. I also can't remember whether the painting was by Rubens, Van Dyck, or one of their proteges.

Thanks for being the live wire who brightens our days at work, Missy!

Love, your Other Asian Mother