Saint Bartholomew Flayed (Milan, Italy)

Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles and his death is one that is still debated today. Some say he was crucified upside down with other apostles, another speaks of him being kidnapped and drowned while the most famous and depicted through works of art is that he was flayed and then beheaded.

A statue in the Duomo in Milan displays the flaying of Bartholomew and depicts him draped in a blanket of his own skin. Given this horrific depiction of his death it isn’t surprising that one of the most famous quotes attributed to him is:

“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond the pain.”

Saint Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew Flayed (Milan, Italy)

Saint Bartholomew Flayed (Milan, Italy)

Milan Cathedral

Entering the main square in Milan from the subway station below you are awestruck by the beauty of the cathedral in front of you. It is an absolutely elaborate cathedral and a wonderful display of Gothic architecture. 700 years in the making the cathedral was finally completed in the mid 1700s and has been a major tourist attraction to the city recently although it still offers several daily services for the people of Milan and you must be a parishioner to enter certain areas of the church during certain times.

The Milan Cathedral – Milan, Italy

Milan Cathedral in Milan Italy

Mark Twain is much more eloquent with his explanation of the Milan Cathedral than I could ever be. From his book – The Innocents Abroad:

Howsoever you look at the great cathedral, it is noble, it is beautiful! Wherever you stand in Milan or within seven miles of Milan, it is visible and when it is visible, no other object can chain your whole attention. Leave your eyes unfettered by your will but a single instant and they will surely turn to seek it. It is the first thing you look for when you rise in the morning, and the last your lingering gaze rests upon at night. Surely it must be the princeliest creation that ever brain of man conceived.

At nine o’clock in the morning we went and stood before this marble colossus. The central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures–and the figures are so numerous and the design so complex that one might study it a week without exhausting its interest. On the great steeple–surmounting the myriad of spires–inside of the spires–over the doors, the windows–in nooks and corners–every where that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself! Raphael, Angelo, Canova–giants like these gave birth to the designs, and their own pupils carved them. Every face is eloquent with expression, and every attitude is full of grace. Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. In their midst the central steeple towers proudly up like the mainmast of some great Indiaman among a fleet of coasters.

His description goes on for much longer in the 18th chapter of that book. You can read the full chapter here on the Classic Literature site of

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Milan, Italy)

One of the world’s oldest shopping malls – the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy – is an architectural marvel. Four stories high with a beautiful vaulted ceiling sitting over the main walkway connecting the city’s two main squares the Piazza del Duomo (city’s main church – Il Duomo) with that of the Piazza della Scala (the historic and world famous opera house).

Milan Shopping Mall

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan Italy Mall

We spent a few nights in Milan during our trip to Italy (almost exactly one year ago – time flies!) and one of those nights we sat in this mall at one of the restaurants overlooking the walkway drinking wine and making up stories about the people passing by and sitting around us. It was one of our favorite nights there and we didn’t really do very much (except drink a lot of very good, yet very cheap wine).

Who knew a mall could look so nice?

The mall in Milan, Italy – named the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. This is unlike the malls scattered around America today that are essentially an eyesore (for the most part) to architecture – built more for function than for style. This was clearly built for style.

Photo of the Day – Milan Mall

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan Mall

Now that’s a Church!

Taking over five hundred years to build the Duomo in Milan (Milan Cathedral) is one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever been in. If you’ve been on this site enough you’d get the sense that I love church interiors and I could have spent all day inside this place taking pictures of it. The great thing about it is that they actually allow it. As long as you pay the photography fee of five Euros they didn’t seem to mind all of my HDRing that at points took two or three minutes for each set of shots given how dark the interior was. Of course I didn’t try to take out my travel tripod but I did have the camera setup on a greenpod and also a GorillaPod but as long as I had my bracelet on showing I made my donation they weren’t opposed to me firing away.

Photo of the Day – Interior of Il Duomo – Milan, Italy

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The interior of the Milan Cathedral is expansive and their are fifty-two very large pillars (one for each week) supporting the massive ceiling above. Also notable in this picture is the red dot above the altar in the distance. This is the spot where (supposedly) one of the nails from Jesus crucifixion was placed when they were building it. Many Catholics make the pilgrimage to this church just to see this nail.

Making your Dreams a Reality

Read a post the other day from a full-time travel blogger who a few short years ago was a high school teacher and it resonated with me as I’m sure we’d all like to make some changes. No matter how small they are – simply doing the five things on this list will push you closer (I highly recommend checking her list out because the words are imperative). Especially the fourth one – too often I’m confronted with negative attitudes. I’m guilty of it far too often as well but I’ve gotten better over the last two years of pushing those feelings back down inside. Nothing has benefited me more than this and I have to imagine if others were a little more upbeat that good things would come to them as well.

Photo of the Day – Duomo in Milan

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Early morning in Milan – an empty square in front of one of Europe’s most unique churches. All about the power of positivity.

Mussolini’s Masterpiece

Central Station in Milan, Italy was built during the Dictator Mussolini’s reign over Italy. Therefore, the look of the station – industrial, imposing and monumental – should be no surprise. It was built as a sign of the strength and power of Italy and today remains one of the few train stations in Italy that has continued to operate after WWII.

Photo of the Day – Monumental

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The European rail system is so efficient that it makes the system in the US an embarrassment. I’ve heard it is better out east – where like Europe the cities are closer together – but in the Midwest the train from Chicago to Detroit (a four hour drive) takes anywhere from six to eight hours. In Europe, with the speed of the trains it is faster (and easier) to ride the rails in comparison to any other form of transportation.

We were in the Central Station waiting for our train to the beautiful Cinque Terre. If you ever stop there and want to take photos – you should know that the police do not like it. I was asked to stop and told that they do not allow photos without a permit. You can get a permit at a shop down the street but since we were heading out I decided not to file for it. The policeman was nice enough to let me fire off a few last shots but my hope of spending the half hour before our train ride getting a lot of good shots of this magnificent structure were dashed.