Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 95. Milan is a Lucrative City

Milan is a wonderful city. Natasha and I visited it to celebrate our silver wedding on 22 February. We were fascinated by charm and temperament of the Italians,

their spontaneity and loud voices. They can accompany a most trivial phrase with such unrestrained gestures, that sometimes one feels ill at ease. So full of that kind of impressions about Milan, Natasha invited Cathie and me to celebrate her birthday in Milan. I chose not to be difficult and make Natalka cajole me and agreed right away. Cathie was also for that, however she had to make arrangements with her academic adviser. He also did not mind that and did not allow begging him, but gave her three free days with the following working off. So the question of the trip was decided. Though we did not want to go without preliminary planning and started studying a repertoire of La Scala in the internet.

Unfortunately, the repertoire as well as the performers for the three days we planned to be in Milan did not evoke our interest. However in December they were displaying world masterpieces of a XVI century artist Georges de La Tour at an exhibition hall right across from La Scala. "Damned Italian imperialists" paid to make the exposition available for free for the viewers, and groups of schoolchildren

accompanied by a teacher were let inside without waiting in a queue. On Saturday the queue was not very long, about fifty meters; it even did not reach a monument to Michelangelo.

We were standing in the queue compliantly waiting for our opportunity to have an access to the beautiful. But no such luck. When there were only two people left in front of us on the way to the entrance, a charming couple in their eighties; she was in a mink fur coat, and he - in a light brown coat with bright mustard-yellow scarf around the collar. The couple was so sweet, so fragile that one felt like rushing somewhere to find and bring chairs for them to sit and wait on; and there, when it was the couple's turn to go inside and after them ours, like simoom in a desert got up, there came three groups of schoolchildren. I've mentioned already that schoolchildren were allowed skipping the queue. So a policeman, who was keeping order and simultaneously carrying out duties of a ticket collector, offered those "frail old people" to go ahead of the three singing and moving restlessly groups, but the "frail cuties" in no way wanted any privileges and stubbornly refused to walk inside before them. Finally there was the "frail cuties' " turn as well as ours. Five people were let inside at a time. I was impressed by reverential silence in the hall. The loud Italian students, who were dancing break dance at the entrance, were quietly sitting on the floor in corners of the big hall behind separating ropes and attentively listening to guides' lectures, who were also sitting on the floor. It was a surprise to see such metamorphosis and also pleasure. I am not going to describe the following paintings.

Nativity, 1644


St Joseph, 1642

You can see them in the internet, though I will insist that emotions which overwhelmed us were very strong. Everybody felt some spiritual elevation when leaving the exhibition hall. I was struck by the talent of depicting light of a candle. An impression is created that it is reflected even in sweat drops on the forehead of St Joseph. We regretted a lot that we did not understand the Italian language. A guide was speaking so emotionally, gesticulating and pointing with his hand at the painting and for some reason he was addressing Natasha all the time. We think he had a feeling that there was her birthday the next day. And the next day after visiting the exposition of works of Georges de La Tour

we started walking around Milan looking for Santa Maria delle Grazie church (Holy Mary of Grace), where there was the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci. Why not? If to enjoy true art then in full measure!

Especially as because in February Natasha and I were collecting information about what sights were located where. The church happened to be so far from the hotel! We were walking for more than an hour. We wanted to see so much what is so well described in the Gospel according to Matthew: "Now when the evening was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom (Matth.26:20-29).
And we were enjoying the walk as well. We were twisting our heads around, admiring architecture, Natalek was window shopping, and I was looking for a cafe or a restaurant to go out to. We were very tired, but were rewarded for. We came to the church right at the beginning of a Sunday service, and with interest and pleasure listened to the service till its end, though we did not understand anything, but the general atmosphere of goodness and decency induced us too. Then we enjoyed listening to an organ music concert. In order not to fool you, I will say right away that we were not favored to contemplate the Last Supper. I cut the riot in the family off by promising to bring them to Milan once again and take them to see it with the tickets booked beforehand via the internet. Yeah, life of curious tourists is tough. Santa Maria delle Grazia church is quite far away from the Galileo hotel, where we were staying. Nevertheless we walked back as well, but along a different route as we fairly assumed that all roads in Milan led to Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square), and our hotel was 100 meters away from it. Don't laugh, but we really walked to the Cathedral square. We were in a hurry and became very tired. And we were in a hurry because we were very hungry. So I invited my family to celebrate Natalka's birthday to a "Gallery" restaurant, which was at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

The restaurant was wonderful, Natalka and I had liked it, when we visited Milan to celebrate our silver wedding.

And a day before that we had lunch there; I was told that fresh truffles were expected to be delivered on that day. We decided to go to the restaurant without even changing at the hotel. I am not going to describe the dinner, will just say that it was absolutely delicious.

Cathie and I ordered tagliatelle with truffles and our heroine of the occasion had potato cream with quail eggs and truffles, and for dessert all of us had the most delicious strawberry cake.

Well, I will say the following about how the main course is served. It is served without truffles, and truffles right in front of guests' eyes are weighed on electronic scales,

then sliced with the help of a special device and weighed again.

Grams and milligrams are counted. And it is finger-licking good! No matter how many times Natalek and I had truffles, we still cannot get used to it. All in all the dinner was a success. After dinner we headed to look for a street artist, as we wanted him, but not a photographer to imprint our satisfied with life happy faces.

Actually there was no need to look for anybody, street artists are based near the Duomo, where there are crowds of tourists. However we wanted to find the one, whose mischievous hand had painted Natalek and me

right after dinner to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of our marriage, meaning our silver wedding. And we did found him. It's up to you to decide what he has done this time.

Well, everybody was happy with the trip to Milan, and we are looking forward to a new visit to it. The more so that I promised this to my family.

12 December, 2011.

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #213101900989

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content