Monday, February 21, 2011

No, you like the pink dress...

With beautiful weather bestowed upon us it seemed a shame to stay in the city, so we crossed a destination off our day trip list and headed 35km south west to Vigevano. This destination is particularly well-known for its beautiful Renaissance "Piazza Ducale", in the centre of the town.  Some have even said it is the prettiest piazza in Italy.  After walking through the antique markets, we arrived at the elongated rectangle that was quite breathtaking, although it seemed a bit plain with not many people around.  We did return a couple of hours later and there was more of a vibe with bustling weekenders, I can imagine it would be quite magical in summer when all of the restaurants are set up in the piazza.

We wandered the streets and stumbled upon an exhibition of Italian Fashion at Cavalleria del Castello, (Lady Knight's Castle). "Italian Fashion, 1951-2011. Una storia lunga 60 anni. A history of 60 years "  The children had a great time playing chase on the grass ouside in an attempt to shake the wiggles out, and hubby and I enjoyed the sunshine.  Something we are learning about the smaller Italian cities is that access  to babychanging facilities is limited.  "Can you not give our son some dignity?" is the general comment from soul mate as our sons nappy is changed in the open. Not too sure what my son had been eating, but trust me, this nappy change was best not done in a confined space anyway; and in hindsight, this was a better location then the one I chose later in the day, (near a blanked out window of a restaurant, but right in front of the menu board, needless to say those perusing the menu did not go inside).  We headed into the exhibit and were greeted by many timeless outfits that justified why Italy may be known as the fashion hub of the world,  and is a place specially known for the famous designers.  My princess, too young to read, (english or italian), ignored all signs of warning and verbal direction from us, and could not resist to touch every single dress on display.  She was also quite confident in telling me which dresses I did and did not like.  Suprise, suprise, apparently the long sparkley pink one was my favourite.  I tried to tell her I prefered the plain black coat, "No no no mamma, you just like the pink one!"

Next we headed towards the Castle Sforzesco.  The old castle has a unique raised covered road, that was high enough for the horsemen to ride through, and it still has places for the horses to be tied and troughs for them to drink from.  The castle also has an elegant loggiato, supported by 48 colomns, and is currently host to 'Preview' the museum of haute couture, a view from behind the scenes, with more than 100 dresses, (this will soon become the Italian National Museum of Costume.) Since it all seemed to be about Italian fashion on this particular day, we could not resist taking the kids to the International Footwear Museum.

If you need more reasons to immerse yourself in Italian fashion, the International Footwear Museum Of  Vigevano might be a good place to start.   Over 200 designs are displayed among the shoes belonging to Pope John Paul II and Marilyn Monroe.  There were shoes designed by Giuseppe Zanotti, Manolo Blahnik, Pollini, Jimmy Choo, Givenchy, Armani, Dior, Moreschi, Gucci and many other high fashion designers.  Visitors can appreciate the evolution of footwear from simple functional objects to design and fashion icons.  Ethnic exhibits include clogs from Holland, seal skin Eskimo boots and mocassins from the Cheyenne & Shoshone tribes of North America. In my opinion, it was well worth the trip to Vigevano, just to visit the world famous "Museo della Calzatura" (the footwear museum), but then again I am female, my husband may have a different view.

Vigevano is a quaint, pretty city, rich with history and pride.  The inside of the Cathedral was breathtaking and we managed a lovely meal with octopus, shrimp salad, gnocchi, pizza and wine.  (I am always happiest with a full belly!)  Only half a day was necessary and it was nice to explore a new destination with a nice Italian ambience.
IF Interesting Fact
You will not find Vigevano in the Italy Lonely Planet book. Which just goes to show that there are still some hidden treasures.

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