This morning we started early on a bus city tour of Milano.  This was the easiest way to get in to see the Last Supper which I reserved about 6 months ago.  But they took us around to some other sites with a guide so it was very informative.  We went through La Scala again then walked through the Galleria to the Duomo.  She could not take a tour group through the Duomo so we went back later for that.  From the Duomo we walked through a really nice shopping pedestrian area to the Sforza Castle.  It was built in the 1300’s as a military fortress but after 1450 it was the Renaissance palace of the Sforza family and was even home to their in-house genius, Leonardo Da Vinci.  Today it houses several museums.  From there we took the bus over to The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses The Last Supper – L’Ultima Cena – by Leonardo Da Vinci. Milan’s leading family, the Sforza, hired da Vinci to decorate the dining hall of the Dominican monastery that adjoins the church.  Because of Leonardo’s experimental fresco technique, deterioration began within six years of it’s completion.  A 21-year restoration project(completed in 1999) peeled away 500 years of touch-ups, leaving Leonardo’s masterpiece faint but vibrant.  We could not take pictures but could stand in front of it for about 15 minutes and just take it all in.  In order to keep the room at a certain temperature and humidity we had to go into 2 other rooms for 5 minutes first so that the correct temperature and humidity could be maintained. It was a wonderful experience.  This ended our official tour in the afternoon so Bruce and I walked back to the Duomo and took the elevator all the way to the top.  It was amazing.  This church is the 4th largest in Europe, after the Vatican, London’s, and Seville’s.  Building began in 1386 and is done completely in pink Candoglia marble.  At 525 by 300 feet, the place is immense, with more than 2,000 statues inside and 52 one-hundred-foot-tall, pillars representing the weeks of the year and the liturgical calendar.  It was built to house 40,000 worshippers.  What was impressive was our walk around the top of the Duomo.  You can see all the details of the multitude of statues. We are so amazed at how this could possibly be built so long ago.  It reminds me of Ken Folletts book  – “Pillars of the Earth” which centers around the building of a cathedral back in the Middle Ages.  Also what goes through our minds is: what would Jesus think about all this grandeur, and about all this activity and carrying on.  It seems so commercial.  We went across the street to another rooftop to eat an early dinner and then hung around inside and outside the church until dark.  Great day!  And tomorrow we finally head to Florence!

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