Ciao from Milan! I decided to be an NSO groupie and follow the orchestra to Milan for their concert at La Scala on Monday, February 26. 

Maria Callas Dress
The dress Armani designed for Maria Callas

Coming into Milan at the tail end of Fashion Week, I had to fight my way through hordes of designer-clad fashionistas to get to my hotel. Even the Porsches couldn’t get through the narrow streets lined with high-end boutiques. The crowds have dissipated somewhat as it is Monday and pouring rain. Tonight is the big National Symphony Orchestra concert at La Scala. I attended the opera there last night, Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, and I must say the theater is magical. Words really can’t do it justice. The audience is so elegant—not quite as luxurious as in earlier times--the writer Stendhal once said that owning a box at La Scala cost as much as a townhouse in Paris. This morning, I visited the La Scala Museum. See how opulent it is? There’s a special exhibit on Maria Callas. I love the dress Armani designed for her as an expression of the beauty of her voice.  

Highlights of my visit so far: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Dating from the last years of the 15th century, this masterpiece was miraculously saved from a WWII bombing and afterwards took 21 years to restore from centuries of neglect. 

Last Supper
See the kitchen door under Jesus?
Duomo at night.

The Duomo—I haven’t yet been inside, but it looks like someone up in heaven dropped a lace mantilla on earth, where it turned to marble. I came upon it on one of my wanderings and it took my breath away. I’m trying to work up the courage to walk to the rooftop despite my fear of heights. The view should be spectacular. 

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, even bursting at the seams with Saturday night revelers, is glorious. Here’s a tourist doing a good luck ritual on a mosaic of a bull. Apparently the Milanese frown on this. 

Wandering around I think is the most fun—following alleyways in the Brera district near La Scala, seeing where they lead and listening to and watching the people. Of course, in a city like Milan, this can be expensive! But at least I got the patron saint of La Scala, Signore Verdi, to oversee my adventures. I found him in a delightful pizza/curiosity shop—his face was even the door handle! The La Scala Foyer restaurant was more tasteful, and on a grander scale (pun intended). 


On my way back from the La Scala Museum, I happened upon these trucks and guessed they were transporting NSO instruments. I told the Irish drivers they’d be international stars, because I would send their pictures to Washington. 

People are so friendly here, very patient when you try to speak Italian even though they speak perfect English. I’ve met people from Spain and France who come here for the weekend just to go to the opera or see the sights. Must be nice! 

Stay tuned for a “review” of tonight’s NSO concert! 

La Scala
View of the NSO rehearsal from royal box.
Filed under: NSO European Tour

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