Friday, May 04, 2012

Brescia, Italy

One of the great things about flying into Milan is the close proximity to other cities. Today, we took off to Brescia, another town we have been to in the past, but did not get to see all that we wanted. We bought our tickets online through TrenItalia, getting our round-trip 2nd classes seats for a total of 18 Euros for both of us; we printed out the e-tickets for the conductor. The trip is less than an hour. Ron had this brilliant idea to get the 8:30 am train going and return on the 8 pm one, regardless of my saying the day was too long. 

Eight years makes a difference; the tourism office was not where we left it last time. It seems incredible that it has been that long. We were walking in the direction of the new location when I spotted this round brick building that looked interesting. I had to convince Ron to take the detour or we would not have found the stunning portrait above the altar: the first female crucifixion either of us has ever seen. It is located at the church of St. Agata which was erected by the Goths in the 6th century. St. Agata was martyred in 251. She is the protector from fires.

This work is called "St. Agatha on the cross among Sts. Peter & Paul, Lucy & Agnes" by Francesco Prate di Caravaggio. Some of these were difficult to get with low interior lighting and not being allowed to use flash. 

The rest of the photos from this day are in my photo blog. See May 5, 2012 or click here. 

Just finding this painting put a spring in our step. We continued on from here to City Hall on the main square. This is also a building to be toured, certainly not for the English explaining its history, but for the artwork, which needs no words. Well, I did add a few words to the captions of some photos taken there. 

We seemed to have forgotten that we had gone to the castle the time past, making it feel compulsory now. Didn't anyone think of putting their castle at ground level? This one was like so many we have been to, halfway up to the sky. What a hike!! It was not until we reached the peak that we had recollections of hikes from the past. Apparently, there were no memories associated with gasping for breath the last time to dissuade our journey this time. Once you are at the top, there is cause for celebrations: the panoramic view and the fact you have not keeled over from exertion. 

This was reason enough for a plate of pasta. Interestingly, the choices were few once off of the main square, which Ron insisted had to have been touristy. The hordes of people in suits and only speaking Italian was not enough to persuade him to eat like a local. We did find an off the beat place with the cutest waitress who donned braces on her teeth. She sputtered how she loved London where she studied English for 2 months. The pasta was good, not great. It is starting to occur to me that the last time, we weren't too impressed with the Milanese cooking either. My grandmother was from Naples, a different world gastronomically. 

Our friend Hunter had mentioned a must-see museum, but she had not remembered the name when I asked before leaving, but she said this was the first female on a cross she had seen. By accident, we came upon The City Museum of Santa Giulia. Thinking is was a museum of the history of the city, we would probably have passed it by normally. Admission was a pricey 8 Euros, but only 4 for Ron. With my Press Card, I was admitted free. To have missed this museum, would have been a treasure lost. Three hours or more passed as we roamed from room to room enthralled at the objects on display. It is housed in the historic former premises of the Benedictine nuns of San Salvatore and Santa Giulia, which was founded in 753.  One attraction/distraction were the groups of school children touring at the same time we were self-guiding. It reminded me of my days as an elementary school teacher, trying to get the class to pay attention to the guide.

By the time we closed the museum, we still had time to kill until our 8pm train. We walked to the Brescia Duomo, a much lesser attraction than Milan's. An espresso on the square killed another thirty minutes, but then we debated on whether we should have dinner there or wait for Milan. Once the decision was made, the choices of places open were slim pickings. We finally agreed to get a slice of pizza at this quick stop pizza stand and then have dinner in Milan when we returned. That one slice of pizza was a slice of heaven. It was the best pizza I have had outside of Long Branch, NJ's Tony's Pizzeria. My mouth sparked with happiness. 

After dropping things off at the hotel, we went looking for a place for dinner. It was 9pm on a Friday night and everywhere that served food with tables and chairs were either closed or closing. Unlike the Spaniards, the Milanese do not eat late. We finally settled for a place in the center, which seemed like a tourist place. There were Germans on one side of us who asked me to take their photos. The other side were Irish, but there was an Italian family nearby. They were probably from Rome or Venice and stumbled upon this place like we did. 

We each had lasagne. Strangely, it had a cream sauce over the tomato sauce. This is not even close to my family's cooking, but it was filling after a full day.

Tomorrow is Stresa.

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