16 August, 2009

vacation update II

Friday we spent the afternoon in Brescia. It was a pleasant surprise to discover how beautiful the center is, because the author of The Rough Guide had described it as industrial and unattractive.
We were in for another surprise as well-- we'd initially gone to visit the fine arts museum, the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, but it has been closed for renovations until the end of 2010. This turned out to be fine, though, because we went to the local archeological museum instead, which had a really interesting collection of artifacts and artwork spanning more than 2000 years.

Yesterday we spent the day in Milan. Again I was pleasantly surprised-- for some reason I'd expected a skyscrapered big-city skyline, but the city is actually very beautiful!

We started out at the Duomo and walked north-- both the architecture and people-watching were equally fascinating. The boys fed hoardes of pigeons on the main square. (B, our little bird fanatic, was very impressed with the "cuddly" pigeons and wanted to buy one with his allowance to keep as a pet! I nipped that one in the bud pretty quickly.)

We also stopped to watch a chinese street artist who was cutting incredibly delicate designs out of carrots and turnips. They were as beautiful as they were bizarre!

The temperatures climbed past 35 degrees C, so we tossed poor D into a public fountain so that she could cool off. Then we fished her out again and beat a hasty retreat. Judging from the looks on people's faces Labradors are not exactly welcome to bathe in ancient monuments.

We spent the afternoon at the Brera Art Gallery (Pinacoteca di Brera), which was a real treat. Yesterday must have been some kind of holiday, and they offered free admission! This meant, however, that the lines were horrendous-- literally hundreds of people were waiting to get in. Everything was surprisingly well organized, however, and the lines moved relatively quickly.

We'd been waiting for about a half an hour when museum staff came up to us and said: "You are here with young children-- you are welcome to leave the line." and they ushered us past the last hundred people and right up into the museum! It was a bit embarrassing, but very nice to be able to get out of the heat and into the cool space inside the museum.

They had a really amazing art collection on display. (Our guide book pronounced it the most important collection of Northern Italian art anywhere in the world.) In addition to the paintings by Caravaggio and Hayez that I've included here they also had some really impressive works by Mantegna, Raphael and Crivelli. I don't pretend to be an expert in any shape and form, but I really enjoyed the gallery and the audio tour we rented.

Today we're going to lounge around on the campground-- we've tortured the kids enough with city trips and museums and they want to spend the day playing card games, reading and swimming in the lake. (Which sounds great to me!)

Time to turn off the computer and go stretch out under our shade tree!

*image of Brescia thanks to wikimedia


Goofball said...

Isn't Milan awefully busy? that's my expectation: a horror to arrive in and to find parking space.

a lazy day at the campground sounds like a good alteration although you've made clearly some great trips already

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

That's so like what I've heard of/seen in Italy - concern and love for the little ones! Milan is another of those places I'm dying to visit. The idea of melting in a campground sounds perfect, too, though.

Betsy said...

Goofball: that was my expectation too. The crazy thing is that all of Italy seems to shut down and go on vacation during August. (seems like they all come to Lake Garda where we're camping!)

Milan was a ghost town! The restaurants and cafes near tourist attractions were open, but the rest was completely dead-- it was kind of strange, actually. (but that also meant we found a parking space immediately, and other than the lines at the Pinacoteca we didn't have to wait for anything at all...

Jen: You're right, M and I were talking about that too! Yesterday we were hanging out at a lake and came upon an older couple who had a Weimaraner puppy-- they were so sweet to S and B, very patient, gave them treats to help them win the dog's confidence, and just were very kind and open and friendly. We've run into a lot of people like that around here-- they seem to be very child (and dog!) friendly!