For the next few days, we will be getting journal entries from Russ Pope from northern Italy, specifically for his new solo show, “Summer People,” which opened at Antonio Colombo Gallery in Milan on September 27th. As we followed along with Russ in Japan this past summer as he had 3 shows in 9 days, we wanted to get messages as Russ draws his way through Milan. On today's entry, Russ goes from Venice to Milan for some proper tourist settings. —Juxtapoz


Russ Pope: Monday morning came very early after our late night of Negronis at Bar Basso. It was still dark when we arrived at Central Station in Milan. The 2.5 hour ride to Venice sounded mellow until I realized our tickets took us to the wrong train station. We had heard about the amazing view of the Grand Canal from the train station and were looking forward to the incredible view. Instead we got off the train in a dark odorous tunnel. We found one person who spoke a little English and found our way to sunshine and fresh air and a station to buy a local ticket to St. Lucia station. Once we made it to St. Lucia, the magic of Venice became real.


We boarded a valparetto water boat for a ride up the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco. The views from the water are indescribable, surreal and breathtaking. The aqua color of the water reflects muted reds, yellows and pinks from the architecture lining the canals. There is a feeling to Venice, a mixture of awe, history and beauty.





Making our way to St Mark’s Basilica, we squeezed through large crowds and narrow alley ways. St Mark’s architecture overwhelms with its detail, colors and sheer size. There is literally is no comparison to this gorgeous behemoth. Navigating away from the throngs of admirers took some time and patience, but once we wriggled our way a few blocks away, we saw a different side of the city. A side where people were working, doing their craft, in small store fronts. We saw artists, cobblers and wood workers. The wood working store we stumbled upon was tiny, immaculate, full of treasures and owned by a cool Venician woman named Valentina Fedalto, wearing a leather apron. We bought a wooden ring and some little carved treasures.






We ate our pasta lunch in a garden at the end of a cobblestone alley way. We wandered the small alleys and along the canals, we got lost many times and it seems like this is what you are supposed to do in this twisty, water filled city. The Rialto Bridge was worth squeezing through the crowds. The vantage point of the canals and the buildings took our breath away.



We spent the evening eating meats, cheeses, olives and bread, drinking wine and laughing with friends. Next time we will spend more time in the most surreal, magical of places.

Tuesday morning we woke to Milano sunshine streaming through our apartment window. We walked to Orsonero Cafe for coffee. This tiny cafe sits across from a pretty, tree filled park. A relaxing, locals spot to drink some third wave goodness.



After bowls of carbonara, cacio e pepe (pecorino and pepper!) and fettuccini pomodoro at Cucineria Romana, we climbed the 250 narrow steps to the roof top of the Duomo di Milano. The stunning views of the city compare only the mind blowing detail of the cathedral. Flowers, people, angels and animals have been carved into every nook and crany of this marble beauty. We spent some time walking the roof line and marveling at the art and detail of the cathedral.





We took a quick walk from the Duomo to Piazza d’ Affari to see the L.O.V.E. sculpture. The sculpture is smack dab in the middle of the financial epicenter of Milan. The hand, with its middle finger prominent, sits in a small piazza in front of the stock exchange. That evening food trucks lined the piazza and live music blared from large speakers. We had a few Aperol spritz while we took in the hand.


Some local friends recommended Trattoria Milanese. This gem is tucked away on a small street and filled with old wait staff, watercolor paintings, lace curtains and epic smells. The owner helps with waiting the tables and his smile, shock of white hair and red rimmed glasses make this place fabulous. The pesto pasta tasted sweet with fresh basil, the wine bubbly and the bread chewy. 



Tiramisu and espresso helped us wind down the evening and we waddled back to our apartment.