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April 6, 2006 - Thursday - We travel from Venice/Mestro to Milan today. It takes about four hours on the expressway for us to arrive downtown and meet our guide at the Castle of Milan (Castello Sforzesco). Inside the museum is a display of one of Leonardo da Vinci's original Codeci, or notebooks. There is a self portrait and a page of his notes. The notes are written in Leonardo's typical mirror reversed script.

Interior courtyard and tower. Castle of Milan

Main gate. Castle of Milan

Interior gates. Castle of Milan

Moat & cannonballs, Castle of Milan

Sculpture and fresco. Museum, Castle of Milan

Courtyard just outside the Museum, within the Castle of Milan

Fresco and tapestry. Museum, Castle of Milan

Fresco, Museum, Castle of Milan

Tapestry depicting a pope, Museum, Castle of Milan

Partially carved Pieta Rondanini by Michaelangelo Buonarroti. Museum, Castle of Milan

Leg detail of the partially carved Pieta Rondanini by Michaelangelo Buonarroti. Museum, Castle of Milan

A bronze bust of Michaelangelo Buonarroti. Museum, Castle of Milan

We also see the outside of the famous La Scala opera house, as well as the nearby super deluxe street level shopping mall: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This Prima Galleria was built in 1878, and has high end shops and restaurants, but also has Macdonalds! We also visit the second largest cathedral after St. Peter's in Rome - the Duomo. This is the world's largest Gothic cathedral, but the front half of it is currently hidden behind scaffolding while it is being restored. It is in the adjacent piazza to the mall.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Prima Galleria

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Prima Galleria

Reconstruction and restoration on the Duomo cathedral, Milan

The statue of the Virgin Mary, the “Madonnina” is covered in 3,900 pieces of gold leaf, the Duomo cathedral, Milan

Spires, the Duomo cathedral
, Milan

Spires, the Duomo cathedral
, Milan

Rear view, the Duomo cathedral

Main sanctuary, the Duomo cathedral, Milan

Chapel & marble floor, Duomo cathedral, Milan

We are not staying in Milan because our tour operator couldn't find rooms in town.  Apparently there is a large furniture designers' trade show being staged at the same time we are in Milan. We stay in quaint Hotel Villa Carlotta, located in Belgirate, a town 60km north of Milan on Lago Maggiore, which is very near the Italian Alps and the Swiss border. It was cold and rainy when we arrived.

Lago Maggiore, Belgirate, Italy
A dark and rainy Lago Maggiore as we arrive in Beligerate
for our last night's stay in Italy

An aerial view out the aircraft window of the same area as I return home to Canada from Athens, flying over: Lago Maggiore, Beligerate, Italy. Alps - Switzerland-France

April 7, 2006 - Friday - My group returns to Toronto today, however I am going on to Athens. We have a 5am wakeup call and the bus arrives at 6:30am. After we we arrive at Malpenza Airport, our airport guide takes the group to the Alitalia check-in. He then takes me to a different check-in, since I'm not going to Canada/US.

After clearing security, I use my cellphone to call Paul the Honest Greek taxi driver and confirm that he will pick me up at Athens airport upon my arrival. I have carried my cellular telephone with me on this trip for the first time.  It has been very handy to call home and to receive calls from home.  The overseas network which Rogers offers works very well, and is not too expensive if the calls are kept short. It is also very convenient to be able to place and receive calls while traveling. The cost averages about $1/minute for local calls in Italy, about $2/minute for calls to/from North America and Italy, and about $3/minute to place other long distance calls.  In Greece, the rates are about 50 cents/minute more (in each category) than in Italy.

People watching in Malpensa Airport

bulleta Russian sports team - lots of hot looking, muscular young men!
bulleta woman packing her Yorkshire terrier with her
bulleta young Italian woman wearing sequined cowboy boots
bulleta  sports team from Tunis and another from Italy - I thought the Turin Olympics were over...
bulletyoung men & women at an American Express booth stopping people to sign them up for the Alitalia gold card - a tough job
bulletseveral African men in traditional long robes and caps
bulletDolce & Gabbana advertising in the gate lounges featuring bare chested sexy young men
Dolce & Gabbana advertising in Malpensa Airport Dolce & Gabbana advertising in Malpensa Airport Dolce & Gabbana advertising in Malpensa Airport


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