Once we got downtown we checked out the Milan Fortress (Sforza Castle) and its
surrounding park and had a few glasses of wine in an outdoor cafe there.
A very nice introduction to this busy, busy city.
Yes, we felt it as we lay in our bed on the 4th floor at about 4 AM local time. Thankfully, the epicenter was 60 or so miles north of us and we were not affected other than being creeped out a bit.
(Editor's Note: May 29, 2012: Ten days later disaster struck again in Northern Italy with 17 more deaths from another strong quake. Our hearts go out to these folks in this beautiful region.)
Sunday, May 20, 2012: Our first of two scheduled day-tours out of Milan was set for today. We were headed north toward the Italian/Swiss Alps and the beautiful resort area of the huge Lake Maggiore.
|Just over an hour out of Milan is the charming little resort town |
of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore.
|Isola Madre on the amazing Lake Maggiore|
|As the weather threatened, we took a great little boat ride on Lake Maggiore|
out past Isola dei Pescatori (Island of the Fisherman).
|We landed at Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) and toured the Palazzo Borromeo, |
an amazing palace of exquisite artwork and beautiful rooms built by the Borromeo Family
which owned all of this area at one time
|Our favorite rooms in the palace were the six grottoes in the bottom floor|
which were decorated from ceiling to floor in intricate patterns made
of stones from the lake itself. It took 20 years to complete these rooms.
|The palace gardens were equally impressive albeit a little harder to enjoy now that |
the rainy weather had settled in quite stubbornly and we were forced to view them
from under the protection of souvenir umbrellas we bought at the book shop.
|It was then over to Isola dei Pescatori for lunch and some shopping.|
|After lunch we encountered our first ducks of the trip on the narrow wet streets|
of the small town. Ducks would become a theme for this trip for some reason.
|We did some praying for the rain to let up, but they went unanswered...for now.|
|Back in Milan, the rain continued as we did a little shopping downtown|
with the Milan Fortress looming in the background.
|Now this is how you do a mall! The Milan Pilazzo was full of shops |
(and shoppers) and, best of all, protected from the persistent rain.
|Our first stop was the big port city of Genoa. The rain had slacked up some,|
but we still needed our umbrellas to enjoy the beautiful architecture.
|Genoa has done an interesting job of conforming former private city palaces into government |
offices and businesses. The history of the city is preserved and the business of today
goes on without a hitch.
|Amazing frescoes from circa 17th century are free to view in many different|
public buildings in Genoa.
|The exquisite use of marble in all different colors adorns Genoa's |
San Lorenzo Cathedral.
|This WW II bomb dropped through the roof of the Genoa's San Lorenzo Cathedral|
but did not detonate. Church officials declare this a miracle and seeing
actual evidence of a miracle definitely makes it much easier to believe.
|The blending of the new and the very, very old is never more evident|
than in Genoa as a part of the original city gate is dwarfed by
a modern high-rise in the background. Somehow, it all works.
|Christopher Columbus' boyhood home.|
That's right, he was Italian.
He only went to Spain for financing.
|There actually are blue skies in Italy!! Our hopes began to rise as we stepped out into this|
main square in Genoa to see the heavy rainclouds starting to disperse.
|A bit of the Genoa waterfront. This replica ship was built for a movie and is|
now a tourist attraction along with a nice aquarium.
|We continued east from Genoa along the beautiful Italian coast to the resort town of|
Santa Margherita with it's beautiful crescent-shaped bay.
|After checking out the town a bit, we boarded a ferry and headed due south along the coast toward |
the small village of Portofino. The views were amazing. This is the Italian Riviera at its best.
|Portofino - easily on of the most beautiful places we have every visited.|
Pictures do not do it justice.
|We hiked up to the Portofino Lighthouse and were rewarded with this fish-eyed|
view of the village in all its glory. Truly, an amazing place and the weather
could not have been better.
|While Portofino lies in a protected inlet with only lapping waves, the pounding of the Ligurian Sea|
is relentless just on the other side of this point of the Italian coast.
|Tuesday, May 22, 2012:|
Flying out of Milan back east toward Warsaw for a plane change to Amsterdam.
The snow-capped Alps stretch out in the distance over the green of Italy.