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Italy - France Journal
June 18 to July 4, 1998

Day Eleven: Sunday, June 28, 1998

I realize that every day my heart is Italian.
- Stendhal

When we tried to get lost in Venice, we couldn't, and when we had all our luggage and had a train to catch, we got lost on the way to the vaporetto. As Margie would say, "It's an adventure." On the way to the train station, we passed a church where the scaffolding set up for restoration looked a bit charred. We read later in the International Herald Tribune that the fire that we saw Saturday was in this church. Someone was arrested Sunday for suspected arson.

We took an Intercity train to Milan - one step down from the Pendolino trains - with no reservation required. You just get on the train and find a seat. If there are none, you have to stand. Fortunately, space on the trains was never a problem. This train was nicer than the Pendolino in some ways. There were six seats - three facing three - in private compartments with glass doors. We had a compartment to ourselves! The train goes just as fast - almost 200 mph - it is just not as modern.

We arrived in Milan at 2 p.m. and walked to our hotel, Hotel Mazzini, about five blocks from the station. It was nothing to write home about, but was clean, had a king size bed and a shower with a door! We took the Metropolitana - clean and uncrowded - to the Duomo in the center of town. This is one of the largest churches in Italy and is a conglomeration of spires made of white marble. It can seat 40,000. We admired the stained glass windows and the statue of St. Bartholemew, who, unlike Michelangelo's painting of him holding his skin in "The Last Judgment," is "wearing" his flayed skin like a stole. There is a lift to the top of the church, and believe it or not, we chose not to take it. We walked across the street to the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle II, Milan's famous glass-domed shopping center which houses all of Italy's couture shops. We ate lunch at the classiest place there - Ristorante McDonald's. After lunch, we visited the Milan Opera House - completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II and rebuilt after the war. It is nothing special on the outside and we were unable to go in because the opera season had ended one week earlier. We stopped at a sandwich place on the way home and had our last delicious focaccia bread sandwich with eggplant. It was only 6 p.m., but we were hot and tired, so we decided to turn in early.

We had seen six Duomos, visited five of them and climbed to the top of three of them. They were all beautiful! Flora took a two-hour nap before bedtime. Meanwhile, Barry watched France beat Paraguay 1-0 in World Cup play, setting the stage for a France - Italy semi-final showdown in St. Denis (a suburb of Paris) on Friday, July 3. What luck - we will be in Paris on that day!

Milan Duomo

A view inside the Duomo, Milan

Milan's famous glass-domed shopping center