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Milano and Torino
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
Matteo, Ilaria's brother, offered to let us stay at his apartment while he was away (thanks matteo!). However, Ilaria and I did not choose our travel day prudently. Turns out, Jan 2 is the most traveled day for the Italian train system. We were too late to reserve a seat on the nice high-speed Eurostar trains. When we got to Rome, the train to Milano was delayed 2 hours. In the end, it was more like 4 hours. There were no seats available and the floor was too dirty to sit on. High-speed trains have right away so our slow one was constantly sitting in little stations waiting for them to pass. After standing for 6 hours, Ilaria found a chair for us to share in a room with French speaking children. The power in our train car didn't work, so after the sun set, it was completely dark and cold. The only way to navigate was using the LCD screen on a cell phone or an iPod. After 12 hours on a train that was supposed to arrive in 6 hours, we arrived in Milano.
lords supper 1
Ilaria did a good job in securing a reservation to see a painting that is often impossible to see.
lords supper 2
I was pretty shocked to discover
lords supper 3
that we were virtually the only non-asian people going to see the Last Supper.
lords supper 4
It must not be an uncommon occurrence because all of the peddlers selling last supper souvenirs outside spoke a little Japanese.
lords supper 5
The place is pretty tight on security. There can be a maximum of 15-20 people inside and they have a little glass chamber they lock you in before you enter to regulate the number of people inside Once in there they are constantly watching you, so I couldn't take a picture. This picture of the side of the building that has the painting is a close as I could get to the fresco with my camera. However, I will say that this was the single greatest work of art I've seen in Italy. It sucks that the thing has been renovated so many times and has become really faint, but everyone has seen copies of this painting on people's walls. You just don't imagine it is so big.
torino train
After seeing Da Vinci's fresco, we took an on-time train to Torino,
torino olympics
where they were hastily preparing for the 2006 Winter Olympics.
torino construction
Unfortunately, these preparations left much of the city under construction.
torino 1
Ilaria hadn't been to Torino either,
torino 2
so it was a nice chance for both of us to see a new Italian city.
torino san giovanni
For a short while, Torino was the home to Italy's parliament. More recently it was the source of a huge number of jobs from automotive giant Fiat. This church houses the Shroud of Turin, which is only viewable by the public on rare occasions.
torino 4
Although Fiat is in decline, Torino still has a unique character as a city.
mole antonelliana
If you watched the 2006 Winter Olympics at all you've seen this building a dozen times. It is the Mole Antonelliana. It was originally intended to be a Jewish synagogue. Today it houses a Cinema Museum.
museo egizio
The Museo Egizio, one of the top three Egyptian museums in the world, was the main reason I wanted to go to Torino.
museo egizio 2
They had an incredible collection.
museo egizio 3
It is almost unbelievable
museo egizio 4
that so many sandals could last so many years, even if they were buried in a tomb.
museo egizio 5
The Egyptians mummified all kinds of animals, including crocodiles.
museo egizio 6
A lot of the people in the museum thought this was the Rosetta stone. I didn't, because I had just seen the Rosetta stone in London a few months ago and it was black, but I understand their confusion.
museo egizio 7
First language.
museo egizio 8
museo egizio 9

But of course this is Italy, where we place priceless artifacts everywhere and let people guess why they're there and what they were for.
museo texts
Finally, here's my reflection and one of the most important texts in Egyptology. There are three fundamental texts: (1) the Rosetta Stone allowed people to read Egyptian texts for the first time; (2) this text, the Royal Canon papyrus, provides the sequence of kings and allowed researchers to order events in Egyptian history for the first time; and (3) the Palermo Stone which is similar but much older than the Royal Canon and lists an earlier set of rulers.
torino night
Maybe all the extra lights were for the Olympics?
torino night 2
But Torino was beautiful at nighttime.
torino night 3
I like it. Light pollution has ruined our ability to see most of the constellations, so we put the constellations into the light pollution.
torino night 4
Even the fountains had nice lighting.
torino night 5
Finally we left Torino under the light of some giant, anatomically-correct neon sculptures.
The next day we went to see the only really famous architectural work in Milano.
milano duomo
But we learned that the Duomo is under construction for the next few years.
milano piazza
The square around the Duomo was nice
milano ice skating
and had a skating rink like New York and Boston.
milano duomo back
We did manage to see the back of the church.
milano market
Before leaving the city, we went to explore the main attraction of Milano: shopping.
milano market 2
milano sandals
Milano is the most famous place in the world for designer clothing. How much would you be willing to spend on some fancy flip-flops?
milano sandals price
How about 450 Euro ($575).
milano eurostar
That afternoon, we reserved a nice soft seat on a high-speed 4-hour train to Rome. And we took a commuter train from Rome back to Ilaria's house in Latina to rest and run errands (i.e. buy expensive parmigiano) before heading back to the States.