Last time, I talked about our journey through dream-haunted Switzerland in May 2018. As any reader of Horror on the Orient Express knows, after Lausanne, the next stop is Milan.
Our train journey to Italy was through the landscape of our imagination, between mountains and the lakes, past the Chateau de Chillon, and into the Simplon Tunnel. Lago Maggiore was sprinkled with tiny islets topped with medieval towers.
We sped through the Simplon Tunnel so fast we were unable to get a satisfactory photograph (next time, we’ll get off at the station). The train rushed on and deposited us in the grandeur of Milano Centrale. We walked through the busy town and rounded a nondescript corner and came upon the grandeur of the Duomo unaware. She looked unutterably gorgeous, and wore her seven centuries like a queen.
We explored the shadowy nave, where we found some statues that did not seem entirely ecclesiastical. This one looked as if it had got sick of the skull it was carrying and was eyeing us off for a fresh one.
We just crept quietly by this one, studiously looking the other way so as not to catch its eye.
We then scaled the rooftops where Mark did his best Fenalik impression amid the soaring spires.
Next we sauntered through the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, opened in 1877 as the world’s first shopping mall. During construction the architect plunged from the roof top to his death. Was this by bad luck or unhallowed design?
We emerged at the Teatro Alla Scalla, where we had a back stage tour of this exuberant confectionery box of a theater.
Mark was awestruck to find himself in the actual locations that Bernard Caleo used to such great effect in his scenario Note for Note in Horror on the Orient Express. There’s something to be said for being a tourist of the imagination.
We have just a few remaining cities left to visit on the route followed by the campaign, as we visited London, Paris, Venice and Istanbul in 2010. Perhaps in a year or two we will finally visit Trieste, Zagreb, Belgrade and Sofia, albeit travelling in considerably less style than the fabled Orient Express of the Roaring Twenties.