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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Into Italy

Saturday, April 2nd., Milan.

We left the Hotel Belvedere on Easter Tuesday.

I wrote 3 articles and 11,000 words of my novel during our seven clear days in Switzerland.
We found the Rhone Valley less tedious than we had expected, and the Simplon shorter, and the Customs quite harmless. It was very hot as soon as we got fairly into Italy, really hot. The views of the Italian lakes came up to our hopes. The Hotel Bellini is a good Hotel de Passage, dominated by Germans, not agreeable fellow-travellers and it's no use pretending they are. There was also a school of jeune filles in the hotel, chiefly Germans seeing cities during the Easter holidays. Their laughter heard occasionally from the interior of bedrooms was very agreeable. The hotel was full, and remained full.

After tea Marguerite and I went into the town. Took a tram. Quite an adventure taking a tram in an absolutely strange town where you can't speak the language. We came to the Duomo by the Victor Emmanuel (rather disappointing this). The Cathedral impressive, though you can see at once that it is meretricious in many respects. We saw it in a grand afternoon light that really did 'flood'it. And its mere size was prodigious to us. And it seemed to be on fire with orange yellow rays of light. We couldn't see any chairs. The whole floor space looked empty.  Then, after a time, we saw a squad of about 500 or 1,000 chairs. We had missed them in the vast arena.

Milan Cathedral or Duomo di Milano is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Aside from being one of the Gothic architectural splendours of Italy, one of the main characteristics of the cathedral is the presence of thousand’s of spires. The cathedral has about 135 spires, each mounted with a statue depicting important people in Milan’s history and different characters in the bible. The highest spire and the tallest part of the cathedral measures up to 357 foot tall and holds the most important symbol of Milan the Madonina or Little Madonna. It’s a golden statue that is so important that by law no any other building should pass the height of it. It took five centuries to complete the cathedral, from 1386 until the 19th century when Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the cathedral’s fa├žade to be finished. There are thousands of statues inside the cathedral, and beautiful stained glass and relics.

The Victor Emmanuel Gallery and Arcade also pleased us. Marguerite was ravished, enchanted by everything; said all the women were very pretty etc.,  all this because the atmosphere reminded her of her midi. We walked about till she was dead nearly.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping mall in Italy, housed within a four-storey double arcade in central Milan. The Galleria is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was originally designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877.

Auguste Foa, my translator, came to see me after dinner. Young man, 32, dark, slim, hat on one side, very sympathetic and agreeable. He told me some depressing things about Italian literature. He said all his literary articles brought him in £40 a year. I shall put some of his facts into the New Age.

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