Friday, December 17, 2010
The lights are strung down the streets of Vitoria and the human sized Nativity scene is now open to the public, there is no doubt that Christmas is nearly here. Though we thought we would be alone for the holidays, turns out we have two elves on the way. My brother, Junior, and his girlfriend, Diana, will arrive in Spain the morning of Christmas Eve to keep us company through New Year's Day.
As part of their visit, I've planned a road trip to Madrid and it's a pretty tight schedule. We'll head out from Vitoria December 27 and stop in Salamanca to visit one if the oldest universities in Europe, then Segovia to see one of the most well preserved Roman aqueducts as well as the castle that inspired the Disney version, then El Greco's favorite town of Toledo, past Don Quixote's windmills and into Madrid arriving December 30.
So in case we don't speak until the new year, we wanted to wish you a very Happy Holiday season from across the Atlantic. We'll try to catch up soon, but in the meantime we're sending warm wishes your way.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! XOXO
Vanessa & Will
Thursday, December 9, 2010
In lieu of the Thanksgiving break we would have celebrated back in the states, we took advantage of the 3 days that the Spanish have off in early December to visit Milan. It was a cold few days with a mix of rain and sleet, but we managed to stay warm with plenty of cappuccinos and wine.
The crown jewel of Milan is of course the Duomo, which is a massive structure that rises from the center of the city. The Gothic cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world, with an exterior covered in huge slabs of a pinkish colored marble. It was truly an impressive sight.
The highlight of the trip for us was the visit to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. The convent's refectory houses Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper mural. Tickets have to be purchased in advance as only groups of 25 are permitted to visit at a time, and only for 15 minutes. The painting started deteriorating only 6 years after da Vinci completed it, due to a technique that he was experimenting with. It underwent a 20 year restoration (1979-99) and in effort to further preserve it, visitors must go through a series dehumidifying chambers before entering the room. We could have stood there for hours marveling at the fresco.