01 April, 2015

So Close


     This is a repost from April 13, 2009.
I hope you'll enjoy reading (or re-reading) this timeless story; it's a sad reminder that timing is, indeed, what it's all about!

Holy week always calls to mind an experience that I had when we lived in Europe over ten years ago. The American Women's Club had planned a day trip, by bus, to Milan. I was excited about going, I knew this would be my once in a lifetime experience to view Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' on the wall at the Cathedral Maria del Grazie. We arrived in Milan shortly before noon and traveled as a group to a nearby restaurant for a leisurely lunch before we all took off for an afternoon of sight seeing and shopping. Only two of us were headed for the cathedral and the painting, everyone else peeled off to go shoe shopping. We hiked the seventeen or so blocks, stopping to check our map several times along the way, and arrived just shortly after 2:00 PM. We planned this intentionally knowing good and well that almost all European shops and businesses close between noon and two o'clock for extended lunch hours. We entered through a dimly lit side door to be greeted by an extremely elderly lady sitting at a table surrounded by handwritten signs, in every language imaginable, she appeared to be manning the gate post through which we were required to pass; and she looked quite stern. As we approached she started furiously pointing to one of the signs, written in a language I didn't understand. I had a sudden, sinking feeling that something wasn't quite right when my eyes fell upon a sign scrawled in English, I couldn't quite believe what I was reading. I looked at my friend for confirmation, she had discovered the sign at the same time I did: "No Last Supper viewings after 2 PM!" We were confused, seeking clarification we turned back to the woman at the gate, she continued to point and gesture toward the sign. We were too late, it was that simple, we'd missed it by only minutes. It reopened to the public the next day, at 9 AM, we'd be back in Geneva by then. She offered to sell us a "Last Supper" postcard. We each bought one. We strolled through the garden as we exited and looked at some beautiful statues and some artwork on the walls, but the sheer disappointment over what we had missed was palpable. So close, and yet, so far. My Dad always says that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, I'd have to agree with that. We boarded the bus later in the afternoon for the ride back home; our group was showing off their purchases, lovely Italian shoes and leather purses. We each had a map; and, oh yeah, a postcard!

Life is Good!
...timing is everything...

8 comments:

dianne said...

now that is just sad ... i'm not a shopper OR a shoe lover (i still think that men get the better deal when it comes to footwear), but the fact that you missed da Vinci's work by mere minutes actually made me feel ... well ... i guess "sick" is the word that comes to mind.

Jeanne said...

Oh, that is sad. I wonder why they have/had that time limit for visiting?

quiltteacher said...

To get that close and not be able to see The Last Supper would be heart breaking! I would give my eye teeth for a peek! (and I'd look funny without them)

Salem Stitcher said...

I think I would have cried.

Connie W said...

What a sad ending for you. I wonder, did you ever have another opportunity to return and see it? And did you ever see the Last Supper Quilt made by a quilting dentist? I've read about it but not seen it.

*karendianne. said...

Now that's a life experience I'd never forget. I might be heartbroken and I think I'd even want to be angry but, well, that wouldn't be right at all. My Catholic guilt would kick in. Come to think of it, I might make a scene and get angry like a hot-headed latin-american figurin' I'd just cover my bases later at confession. hee! (I'm making this all up - totally lapsed catholic)

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

I can't believe the tour company did not explain that! Ouch. I did a tour of the Assisi region and that bus ran on time - to a second. The cathedrals were the highlight and seeing such old cities - truly amazing! I didn't go to Milan though... but my Little Boy loves all things Leonardo and wants me to bring him to see this painting! So there may be a day... he will be 6 in June so we still have plenty of time to plan our trip. A funny thing about Italian churches - all of them - you had to put money into a box to turn on the timed (very short amoutn of time so have the camera ready) spotlights so you could see the frescas.
I would try to plan another trip and go back to see the painting.
Cheers! Evelyn

LizA. said...

how utterly frustrating. were you able to discern any reason for why it was closed after 2:00?