Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tapestries in Milan

 VareseGrapevine2Recently my husband had a meeting in Varese, northern Italy, not far from Milan.  It didn’t take much arm twisting to convince me to join him.

Then I remembered that I have a Tapestry List* friend who lives in Milan, so I contacted Elena Rossi by email and she very kindly offered to pick me up at my hotel so we could visit the tapestries in the Castello Sforzesco.  CastelloSforzescoEntrance

*The tapestry list is a wonderful yahoo group to discuss all things tapestry. To subscribe:

I was quite relieved that I didn’t have to find my way to Milan alone, thanks so much Elena!

I brought her a copy of the Small Tapestry International: Connections catalog, and Elena gave me a gorgeous book on the Battle of Pavia Tapestries, which are in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples.GliArazziThese tapestries are so well preserved, the colors and the details are amazing.

CSFrescoCeiling3It was great to have a native of Milan to show me around this lovely city.

The Castello Sforzesco is in an enormous castle, which looks very much like a fortress, in the center of Milan. 


CSCarvedStoneBraidIt was built from the 14th to 16th centuries.

We saw gorgeous mosaics and frescoes, 15th century weaponry, renaissance sculpture, musical instruments, and rooms decorated by Leonardo da Vinci; but our goal was to see the Trivulzio Tapestries of the Twelve Months.

DuomoDiMilano The tapestry gallery was not open until the afternoon, so we took a break for a quick lunch, and then Elena showed me the sights.

DuomoInterior2 The Duomo is awe-inspiring; it is the 4th largest cathedral in the world, and took almost 600 years to complete! Look how tiny the people look in this photo!

As we entered the building the guard at the door informed me that my shorts were too short (they are pretty long shorts) and made me pull them down to cover my knees.

Good thing I was wearing a long t-shirt or my belly would have been hanging out! Are bellies more acceptable than knees?

GalleriaV I was also impressed with the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, an elegant 19th century covered arcade, with high end fashion shops. Here is a youtube video about it.

There is a mosaic of a bull, and if you put your heel on his testicles, and spin around 3 times, it is supposed to bring good luck (and perhaps improve your sex life!)

I tried it just in case…

Finally it was time to return to the museum for the Trivulzio Tapestries of the Twelve Months!

These were woven for Marquis  Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (1440 or 1441 – December 5, 1518)   in 1503-1509.

DecemberDetailWEB Here are two details of December.

DecemberDetail3There is a wealth of symbolism in these tapestries, which the people of the time would have understood easily. In the 21st century, sad to say, we are pretty clueless! 

I am always impressed with the way fabrics were represented in tapestry.

By the time we had seen all 12 of these tapestries I was pretty tired, and very grateful for Elena, who took me to the train station, helped me to buy the correct ticket and helped me find the train back to Varese. CSTapestryFolds-(2)

Another wonderful tapestry adventure!

1 comment:

Elena said...

Thanks Janet, I was happy to re-live our visit to the Castle through your blog post and beautiful photos, it was a wonderful day for me too!
I hope you'll manage to come to Italy again!