Before you go do read up a little because the guide, being a monk is not an art historian. The ground plan is a Latin cross with chapels opening along the aisles; 12 square ones and 2 rectangular ones. As they are decorated by painters of the stature of Perugino, Bergognone, il Morazzone, Procaccini, il Guercini it would have been very nice if they had been better lit. Not only do you have to try and find a good viewing position through the wrought iron bars that protect them , but it’s extremely difficult to see them. I think the problem is that it all belongs to the monks who are still praying for Gian Galeazzo (in perpetuity) and they are more interested in the spritual dimension. Elsewhere you’ll find Bernadino Luini’s outstandingly beautiful ” Madonna of the Carnation”. The gipsoteca is well worth a visit, and should be more than a hurried afterthought to your visit. Back to Milan. I want to go into the station to buy a slice of pizza. I approach the trendy young man at the barrier and he says” NO”. What? That’s a word I don’t often hear.” But I only want a slice of pizza. I’ve been on one of your trains today. I’ve got an underground ticket.” Still no. “Ok where can I buy a platform ticket?”” You can’t. You have to be going somewhere”. Damn, I’m not used to no’s. I go to look for the pizza place on the other side of the barrier but of course he actually meant outside the station, so I march back forcefully to complain. Another barrier attendant evidently fearing my wrath or maybe pitying a poor, tired soon-to-be extra-communitarian, waves me in. Thanks, sometimes Italian rule- bending works in one’s favour!
This time we had our cappuccino and croissant BEFORE buying our rail tickets so the start of the day was not stressful at all. We decided to go via Rogoredo because there are more trains and I was curious to see such an ill- famed place. No one else seemed to be going our way and we got off lonely, at the station. An incredible experience! No signs, no indications of the glorious place awaiting, no welcome, nothing. Outside the station, midday and under a scorching sun. I always associate these deserted, burning places with Mersault’s mother’s funeral in L’Etranger, a book that had a huge impact on me when I was an adolescent and has never left me. It comes back, year after year to haunt me.
The only way that I could see to get to the Charterhouse was to walk. A pretty conservative estimate according to the signpost being 10/5 minutes along a deserted road with no shade. Get stuck in. I insisted on using my umbrella as a parasol, but was informed that I didn’t look Japanese at all and it looked like a cheap brolly not a beautiful Japanese parasol. I do my best!
When we got there it was closed so we went to a restaurant which in spite of its unpromising looks was actually ok. I had a special bread roll made with one of the side dishes on the menu, it wasn’t really a bread roll at all, it was more like a Danish open sandwich made with Pugliese bread…but the important thing is that it was really delicious.
When we finally got into the grounds of the magnificent Carthusian Charterhouse (1394) it took your breath away. Not a square centimetre is left undecorated. The tour inside was fascinating, if superficial and the information was scant. Photos are not allowed thank god although there’s always the smart alec who has more rights than anyone else. We were able to take pics of the monk’s cells which would put modern two-roomed flats to shame size-wise. And my hostas too.