If The Shoe Fits ….

… wear it!

Okay I haven’t developed some sort of foot or shoe fetish! Honestly! Its just that its hard to ignore shoes here in Italy. Particularly women’s shoes. What is often considered acceptable day/office wear I still find a little startling even after three years. And the footwear often does give rise to questions such as:

  • How does she walk on heels that high?
  • Don’t those leather straps going half way up her leg chafe?
  • Where does she put her toes?
  • Doesn’t that clanking she makes when she walks bother her?
  • Why the hell was she thinking when she bought those?

Last weekend on the trip to Milan it was a little hard to avoid fashion footwear. After all it is the fashion capital of Italy and one of the hottest fashion venues in the world, so it should come as no surprise that shoe shops abound and window displays are filled with enticing little bits of leather and sparkle.

Most of these shots were taken during a Saturday stroll around the fashionable shopping area of quadrilatero della modaVia Montenapoleone and environs.

One of the first stores you hit as your turn off Montenapoleone to Via Sant’Andrea is Rene Caovilla, which means shoes, shoes and more shoes. If the red logo isn’t enough of an indication then the delightful window display – my god but Italians know how to dress windows – leaves no doubt. And though those fanciful little numbers hanging in the window are strictly for display they does have some serious shoes for sale. Including those little studded numbers which can be all yours for only €595,00 (CAD797.37 – USD776.32)- obviously they weren’t on the July sales list.

But these stylish bits and pieces of leather and other sundry materials were all marked at 40% or 50% off. I should explain that there are two legal sales months here were everyone and I mean everyone knocks their prices down: January and July. So these charmers can be had for as little as €150,00 or as much as €275,00 – cheap at half the price! Oh wait a minute that is half the price.

However there were no discounts for these mesh numbers nor the studded ones but I won’t be surprised to see some one sporting them at our local tavola caldo come September. And I was happy to see that leopard spots never seem to go out of style!

And the men aren’t short changed in the shoe department either. I actually found two pairs I wanted at Massimo Dutti but they didn’t have them in my size – no honestly! However for a mere €1200.00 I could have had a pair custom made. Or for a 10th that price I could be sporting those smart blue snake skin numbers with the sparkly buckles. I’m just not sure they’d work with my current wardrobe. Maybe I’ll just wait until the January sales.

01 agosto – Sant’Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori

Lunedi Lunacy

Milan is definitely the fashion capital of Italy, if not Europe. The shops are filled with stylish items beautifully displayed and I might add most of the time “beautifully” priced – though we are currently in the waning days of the annual July Sale so a smart little frock can be knocked down from €3500.00 to an affordable €2250.00.

But amongst all the high fashion comes this little bit of lunacy – and its all yours at 25% off for only €350.00 (CAD 468.00 – USD 455.00).

I’m not sure where occasion calls for a Rhino bag or what stylish outfit it would go with? Or what else it would accessorize with? Or why the hell you would even want to buy it but just so you know – it’s out there and it’s available.

26 lulgio – Santa Venera

Ho Visto*

A few random things that I’ve seen in the past month or two in Milano, Vienna and here in Roma.

I was in Milano a few Sundays ago for the de facto opening of the new Das Rheingold. As I strolled up Piazza dei Mercanti working my way through the crowds celebrating Inter’s calcio victory I saw this man amongst the sketch artists, living statues, mimes, pick pockets, rip-off leather sellers and accordionists plying their various trades. He was surrounded by an attentive and appreciative crowd and his delicate and lovely creations were selling very well.

The first three days of the vacation in Vienna were wet, cold and, though I can never imagine Vienna being unpleasant, at times it was less than comfortable. But the temptation to let your mood match the weather completely disappears when you see something like this.

As we left the Peterskirche this procession came up street. Even in the rain it made for an elegant parade. For an incredible virtual tour of the St Peter’s Church – which is better than any photos I could have taken just click here. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions I am not a big fan of baroque but for this church I’ll make an exception.

A while back my friend and colleague Jolka and I were crossing the street from the office to visit our regular bar for morning coffee. We were greeted by this rather unusual sight in the middle of the sidewalk.

It was a Monday morning and I really wasn’t quite awake yet – I was almost tempted to crawl up and take a nap. Or just lay back in that old recliner.

*I’ve seen

12 giugno – San Giovanni da San Facondo González de Castrillo

Milano – Some Observations …

… and some photos.

This is now my fourth trip to Milano but each time there are three things that are always guaranteed to take my breath away:

The sight of La Scala across the Piazza della Scala

That great “drawing room” of Europe – the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

The Duomo as you enter the Piazza from any direction.
  • This time of year Milano is a city of roses. I was amazed by the varieties available in neighborhood plant stores and more by the beds of them that served as medians on the city streets.
The second of the many courtyards of the Castello – its an incredible complex.

This fun 16th century autotron was created from an earlier wood sculpture body (a Christ figure) with the Devil’s head added to it.

A stunning example of woodworking – a left click will give you a close up of the incredible detailing.

I don’t know why but I just have a feeling that the singer in this painting is more Katherine Jenkins than Maria Callas!

  • I had never been to the Castello Sforzesco though how I could miss the enormous fortress and its great park in the middle of the city I’m not sure. There are seven museums plus the fortress to explore – for only E3.00 ($4.50) – and it was crowded last Saturday. I managed three of the museums – Ancient Art, the Pinacoteca and the Furnishings – before I got museum fatigue. Maybe I’ll get a chance to see more the next trip back.
  • It may be its fashion centre but Milano also has to be the botox capital of Italy, if not Europe. I have never seen so many bloated lips and stretched brows in my life. Sadly one is reminded of an exchange from Sheridan’s The School for Scandal:

    Lady Sneerwell: … and surely that’s better than the careless manner in which the Widow Ochre caulks her wrinkles.

    Sir Benjamin Backbite: Nay, now, Lady Sneerwell, you are severe upon the widow. Come, come, ’tis not that she paints so ill — but, when she has finished her face, she joins it on so badly to her neck, that she looks like a mended statute, in which the connoisseur may see at once that the head is modern, though the trunk’s antique.

  • The boxes (palchi) at La Scala were never meant for comfort; small, narrow and cramped they are an effort to extract the highest price from the maximum number of people under the guise of old-world romance. And though I still get a certain thrill as the crow-black garbed, gold chained usher unlocks the door to give me access to my place, after sitting for 90 minutes in a slightly contorted position to get a full view of the stage I greatly envy those in the orchestra who have paid the same price or even the gallery who have paid considerably less. I felt particularly sorry for the gentleman behind me who spent most of the performance on his feet craning to get a view of the stage. And though I recall doing exactly the same thing one evening at the Palais Garnier in Paris I don’t recall paying E120.00 ($180.00) for the privilege.

    The one pleasure a palco can give you is good company. And I had good company on Friday evening: a charming – and I might add for the lady, beautiful older woman – couple from Cannes and a gentleman from Aix-en-Provence. We spent the evening sharing memories and opinions of singers, festivals and music in fractured French, Italian and English – it was polyglot but we all spoke the language of opera and it added great social pleasure to a musically pleasurable evening.

  • It is incredible that the washrooms at the elegant Savini in the Galleria, which charges E19 for a Chicken Caesar, were a disgusting mess – to the point where I would not use them; while those at MacDonald’s across the way, which charges considerably less for the same thing, are spotless. There is something to be said for corporate standards.
  • As I was walking towards Piazza San Marco a little girl – maybe 8 years old – in a blue church scout uniform came running up to me. Proffering a small bag of homemade cookies she rather rapidly and breathlessly tried to explain that she was selling them for her scout group. When I told her I spoke French or English but not much Italian it didn’t stop her for a mintue. She just slowed down a bit and tried to remember how to count in French. They cost “une … deux … (her friend nudged her and whispered “trois”) trois!” I only had a five euro note and I gave it to her. Again she struggled to tell me she owed me deux euros. As she ran to get change I called over to the leader that it was okay, I didn’t want the change. That little girl’s efforts to communicate were worth much more than two euros. A lesson I should learn.

17 maggio – San Pasquale Baylon


Milano is a city of trams – you can’t miss them. The streets are a jigsaw puzzle of tracks and garlanded with overhead wires. The squeals of metal against metal and the clanging of warning bells are a constant late into the night. And that strange sound they make as they trundle along is always in the background in certain parts of the city.

There are 18 different lines chris-crossing the city and though many of them are sleek new Eurostyle cars an equal number are clattering old trams from the 20s and 30s. Restored with glossy wooden benches, metal poles, leather straps and old fashioned controls – they have an air, a romance, that the newer plastified models lack. I’ve been assured that riding in them during the extreme cold this past winter was not very romantic and there were some problems with the tracks and ice – but then this past year was unusual. On a balmy – well actually hot and humid – spring day it was great fun to chug through Centro from the Castello Sforza to my hotel.

And the people at ATM(Azienda Transporti Milanesi)are obviously aware of value of these old cars and the romance associated with them: they are kept on the major routes in Centro and tourists love them. And late Saturday night I saw a chartered tram trundling along packed with a festive crowd of young people dancing, drinking and singing their way down Via Manzoni.

12 maggio – San Pancrazio

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