A Hot “Low Pot” Day in Milano

Maybe it’s a combination of the sudden onset of heat and resultant fatigue – in the mid twenties yesterday when I arrived  – and that I didn’t sleep well for the “closeness” in the room and the ambient street sounds and light.  Or, that this time in Italy, I’m one among the now growing crowds of tourists, school trips and Milanese out enjoying the sights on a sunny Saturday.  Or, that after six weeks away, I’ve been feeling pangs of homesickness.  But despite the sun, the sights, the full flush spring colours, and another perfect hotel room, I had, what one of my well-travelled friend calls, “a low pot” day.  Not a scorched dry “low pot,” but moments where I felt niggles of ennui, self-doubt, and just plain and simple loneliness that called for mindful allowing and a bit of intervention. 

I felt it soon upon rising, as I reflected on my last dream (since traveling, my nights have been quite full, last night in particular, given the room’s heat).  During the complementary breakfast that covered every course from breakfast to dinner and dessert (I think the exceptionally considerate staff aim to please an international clientele’s morning tastes), I was distracted by the American standard “muzak”, though made note to enjoy the waitress’ soft and cheerful singing as she welcomed us to our tables.  And the young waiter who took a moment to compliment my attire, ever courteous and careful not to offend, gave me a boost of self- assurance to set me on my way to the Metro.

Last night I went online to book a ticket to see one of Milan’s main attractions, The Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie.  I was one of twenty-five queued for our fifteen minute viewing at 9:45 today.  I’m at a loss for words to describe the deep feelings evoked as I stood in the dim, dusk-like light, gazing at da Vinci’s masterpiece (the word hardly does justice).  It felt particularly poignant because I was seeing it during this spring season of Lent and Christ’s passion, and because of my own birth on Good Friday.  

After making the wrong turn, and sensing I was getting further from my anticipated next destination, the Castello Sforzesco, I asked for directions and quickly nipped in the bud any self-criticism as I retraced my steps for several blocks.  My own self laughed when I saw the fortress of brick, parks, and Milan’s own version a triumphal arc, the Arco della Pac.  “So close yet so far!”  Being inside the castle’s museums offered a cool, and calming respite from the growing crowds and heat.  I weaved my way through exhibits of ancient art, furniture and paintings to see Michelangelo’s last sculpture, the incomplete Rondanini Pièta.  Eavesdropping on a tour guide’s description and art history’s interpretation of the work really enhanced my viewing and appreciation.

I ate my little cheese and grilled eggplant sandwich made from the breakfast buffet at the first water fountain I’ve seen since arriving in Europe, outside the castle’s front entrance, and then walked down the Via Dante where I stopped at the Aperol Café for what has become my favourite cocktail, an aperol spritz.  Aperol, a campari based liqueur, is native to these parts, though to date, the best I’ve sampled was with Kathrin last weekend in Köln, Germany!  Today, sitting at outdoor table, I was acutely aware of dining solo, and being surrounded by lovely gaggles of raggazze italiane, and it seemed, couples and families from all parts. 

This registered, I moved on knowing I would soon get a glimpse of Milan’s centerpiece, its cathedral, Il Duomo.  It almost glowed against the blue sky, the sun now striking its face.  The piazza was alive with people of all ages.  Children squealed with delight, or fear, at the flocks of pigeons, well trained for handouts. 

I ventured inside the cathedral and slowly took in its immensity and grandeur, appreciating that a mid-afternoon mass was in process.  I recalled and heeded my niece’s wisdom for lonely travel times, and took a bit of time to sit on a pew and be still.  

Through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele to an oasis of green and cool, the Piazza della Scala, anchored by a statue of Milan’s favourite son, Leonardo da Vinci and four of his apprentices, and the famous La Scala Opera House.

I sat for a good hour or so people and psyche watching, and roused myself to fetch an antidote, a cone of lemon and pink grapefruit gelato, topped with almost-frozen whipped cream, from the famous Gelateria Grom.

It’s now well into the evening as I sit in my room composing this post.  It’s still hot, the window is open and street sounds rise up.  I retrieved one of my routines during my very first solo adventure to Italy…play some music while I tally the day’s receipts and edit the day’s photos, and reflect on a day full…of moments wistful and lonesome, and how I allowed and flowed on through to appreciate and receive its gifts. 

The pot is quite a bit fuller now.

About Katharine Weinmann

living and leading with courage, clarity, compassion and creativity
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12 Responses to A Hot “Low Pot” Day in Milano

  1. Sarah MacDougall says:

    Dear Katharine!

    I’m tracking your blogs and feel like I’m having a vicarious adventure with you. So good to see your pictures and read all the detail of your travels. Tried to send a reply a while back and the website was experiencing some sort of technical difficulty. So, hopefully, this reply will make it to you!! Harriet and I both send much love and special thoughts for your birthday this Friday, April 8. Celebrate your beautiful self.

    • Love to you and Harriet, Sarah. I really am enjoying creating these posts…though it does take time…to compose, to download the photos. And the response from my friends and family makes it very worthwhile. It will be a wonderful chronicling, together with my journal, for reflecting back on this dream come true. Katharine

  2. Barbara Thrasher says:

    Katharine, you may have been lonely, but you were not alone. So many of us, your friends, were with you in spirit on the the beautiful and colorful journey you have been taking us on. I hope you felt our presence and our love.
    Thank you for modeling how to move through those periods of life on the high ground Katharine. Too often when I hit that lonely place with my body chemistry in tilt mode, I hide in the TV, in food, in a drink – whereever there seems least effort. Next time I am on the edge I will look to explore my options to turn away from the TV and turn into a gallery, a museum, a park…even here at home; knowing from your example that emersing myself in beauty and physically moving forward will more quickly restore my soul.

    • Oh dear Barbara. And this yet another reason why I appreciate you and look forward to working with you.
      Thank you for this affirmation, encouragement and love. And yes, I feel the collective love, support and presence of my community of family and friends.
      Yesterday was much better as I left the city to the peace and restorative power of the quaint Monterosso al Mare, the first of the Cinque Terre towns coming from Milano. To sit by the Mediterranean, eating a lovely lunch of seafood, was heaven on earth.
      Love to you, dear friend.

  3. Donna Smith says:

    Kathy – if you are feeling very lonely, you can always send me a ticket. I would be more than happy to join you in your travels. Besides, don’t feel lonely, we are all with you, especially your family – in your thoughts and in your heart. Lovely to know you are travelling by train and staying at a B&B. I think both are very romantic ways to go. I think we are all very anxious for your return and many, many stories and pictures. Travel safe . . .

  4. Terri Songbird says:

    Hey Kath,,, just read your post,,, hope your pot keeps filling!!!!

    holding space for you with lots of love


    • Yes, it does, as I contribute, ask, and intend and the Universe kindly, compassionately and wisely replies. I had a lovely day today….mass in the Duomo, sitting on its roof to sketch and paint a quick impression, a spectacular exhibition of impresssionist art – which I know realize is my favourite and why – and lunch on a terrace with a fellow from Berlin. Love you, Terri and so good to see you at the beginning of this leg.

  5. Terri Blair says:

    I am still following your journey and eagerly anticipate your next post. Ennui aside, the occasional lonely day only helps to reinforce the joy of family and friends and subtly reminds us to appreciate those whose lives we share which we never want to take for granted. Terri B

    • I am so appreciating your kind and wise words, Terri. Your gift of “we all sleep under the same moon” has come to mind several times, today again, and been borrowed as you no doubt have read. Thank you for this one, too.

  6. Mom says:

    My beautiful daughter–your blog brought tears to my eyes as I wished I could hold you and chase away your loneliness. Hopefully this lonley feeling will not last, that it is just a “spur of the moment” and do look forward to your haven and oasis in Senna –the beautiful “white” room, with your own private patio where you can sit quietly and perhaps read, listen to the birds and the sounds around you, perhaps edit your photos, if you haven’t already and just enjoy your own company. I love you. Mom.

    • Hmmmm, thank you, dear mother. This is why blogging and comments like yours, Mom, help fill the pot. Lovely to receive this after my last lovely day in Milano. I am looking forward to the next legs of my journey, which I think will be less intense. I love you, too.

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