The First Week

 

So far, in this first week, I’ve learned so much about Milan and its rich history of art. The most interesting thing to me has been the churches, since I’m a history major. I find them much more interesting than most of the contemporary art, both here, and in general. The churches back home could hardly even be called churches, based on the magnitude of the ones here. Most of them have private chapels for the families of the wealthy patrons that commissioned them which is unique to the churches here, although I can’t say I know much about Catholic churches at all, since I’m not Catholic, but I do know enough to know that they are vastly different from the ones in America. Monday we went to the Church of San Lorenzo, which was beautiful. There were frescoes everywhere and the woodworks was amazing.  The way I understood it, the church had “layers”: A Renaissance layer, a medieval layer, and the original early Christian layer. To clarify, there was the original church built in Roman era Milan. On top of that, the Medieval layer was built, including the sepulcher that holds San Lorenzo himself. I’d never seen a holy relic before, so that was really cool. San Lorenzo has definitely been my favorite church so far, but we’ve been to a few others as well, including the monastery that holds the Last Supper. We also went to the Archeological museum which was more fun than I was expecting. It was built around the last remaining tower from the old Roman city. Looking at the exhibits reminded me of just how far the Roman empire reached. There were even artifacts with Hindu imagery, which was a shock. On Wednesday, we visited Biblioteca Ambrosiana, which is a museum that holds the original cartoon for the School of Athens by Raphael. I had no idea that painting nor the Last Supper were as huge as they are. As we travelled through the museum, we learned that the collection was as old as the Reformation. I felt like the building was really large, and it would have been really easy to get lost. It was so neat because you could see the original building, both inside and outside, and you could see where additions had been made. There were beautiful mosaics on the floor in some parts, and I was just as fascinated with them as I was with everything else. In the last (planned) room of the museum, we got to watch a crew restore a version of the Last Supper that was done by one of Leonardo’s students. It was amazing. Right off of that room was a huge library. All I could think of was the one from Beauty and the Beast. This library housed a lot of Leonardo’s sketches which was great in and of itself but I just loved being around all these books. It was kind of funny because when I stepped into the library, there was Gregorian chants playing. It felt like a movie. After that, most of us shopped near the Duomo, which is beginning to become a trend for our group. So far, everything has surpassed my expectations, and I only expect it to get better.


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