It really is impossible to see Milano in two days! However, we did a vast amount of walking from our hotel into the centre of the shopping district. As I continue to reflect on our journey throughout Italy, I have discovered many things about traveling with others and their wonderful and varied personalities. (This needs further exploration in another post.) Journeying as a group has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of course are that one is in familiar and safe company and have shared similar experiences in special places. One disadvantage can be that these special places can suddenly conjure up feelings that are emotionally overwhelming and quite embarrassing. The second part of our Milan visit did exactly that for me as we entered the grand Teatro alla Scala or La Scala.
I am the daughter of northern Italian and Czech parents with some Hungarian and Swedish influences. Most of my life I grew up listening to stories about life under the Austro-Hungarian Empire – stories of art, music and history. As a child and teenager this was probably the last thing I really wanted to listen to. However, during this visit to the northern regions of Italy, I finally understood the beauty, the art, the architecture and the history. This in turn created an overwhelming link to my ancestors. As we walked in to the grand theatre, the home of opera and ballet, and entered the viewing platform where a rehearsal was underway, I became so overwhelmed by the artistic beauty that I began to cry! Quite embarrassing when one is with twenty other people! Colin was just as bemused by my antics, quickly shuffling me out of sight as I incoherently sniffled into his sleeve, “now I know what my family was on about this place”.
Dating from 1778, La Scala has been home to all the famous operatic and ballet artists. In fact, the museum, also located on the site, reveals the past performers in all their glory: Rossini, Bellini, Toscanini, Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev and of course our own Dame Joan Sutherland, to name but a few.
In my last post I depicted Milan as a place of self discovery through fashion – a somewhat artificial enterprise. However, it has now become a place where I have found a connection with myself and my ancestral past. Indeed, I will never forget Milano for this gift of understanding. Have you had a similar profound experience of place?