Hello one and all and welcome to my news page. Here you can see me as my two alter egos the ever efficient secretary Prudie Jones, Evette the Spivette and plain old little me as you catch up with all that is current in my world. Regrettably unlike Prudie my spelling is quite frightful at the best of times due to my dyslexia so I shall apologise now for anything which might be shamefully mis-spelt. In the mean time I hope you find this page fun, entertaining and informative and become a regular visitor to my site.

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A Voice in a Million

Part 2 – Off to La Scala, Italian Fashion, Milan & A Trip to Pavia!

Fiona Harrison & Paul Marsden in Milan

Paul and I Shopping in Milan!

It’s been all go here at Harrison HQ since returning home from Italy. I have so much catching up to do. Since I wrote part one I’ve completed  twelve shows in as many days, gone from my Wrens Trafalgar show straight into Halloween, had a heart stopping moment with my amp going down mid show, not to mention my printer giving up the ghost the same week, appointments to keep, arrangements to pick up from the recording studio, new songs to learn and the pleasure of singing for Newark Air Museum’s 1940s event. Phew!

Fiona Harrison at The Duomo

Guiseppe and I at The Duomo!

In fact I will be writing up Newark’s 1940s event in my next blog as I have some great pictures to share with you all, many of which you might have seen on my Facebook pages. But for now I’d like to tell you more about my Italian trip and our days when Paul and I had the pleasure of visiting Milan with our host Guiseppe and friend Franco.

Milan is a wonderful city and on this occasion we had the pleasure of visiting it twice. On our first free day Paul and I took the tram into town with our host Guiseppe to The Duomo. I’d never ridden on a tram before and it’s a great way of seeing the city and all the different styles of beautiful Italian architecture. Once we reached our destination we decided to have lunch at the roof top restaurant opposite The Duomo. Milan’s leading department store is situated directly opposite the cathedral and once you reach the sixth floor you

Fiona harrison and Paul Marsden Looking Over The Duomo

On Top of the World!

are presented with a choice of restaurants. Our restaurant looked out directly at the cathedrals roof where you could see visitors exploring and making the most of the cathedrals views.

I can see why Italy leads the way in fashion. What Milan is doing now we do five years later here in the UK and it’s hardly surprising that  visitors come from all over the world to shop in it’s department stores and at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which bosts some of the best designer shops in the world. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest active shopping arcade and a major landmark. Housed within a

The Famous Bull and Turin’s Coat of Arms!

four-story double arcade in the center of town, the Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed in 1861 and built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1867.

The arcade has four mosaics portraying the coat of arms of the three capitals of the Kingdom of Italy (TurinFlorence and Rome) plus Milan’s. Tradition says that if a person spins around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from Turin coat of arms this will bring good luck. Naturally I had to have a go and it’s a

very popular place, as visitors queue up to have their photograph taken withFiona Harrison at La Scala their heel on the bull’s genitals.

It’s still very much a mans world in Italy and Italian men aren’t afraid to be fashionable. Certainly around the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele there’s no shortage of men’s designer shops all sporting the latest trends and labels. It’s interesting to note that men’s jackets are going back to double breasted with higher cut wider lapels and skinny trousers. Ladies fashion wasn’t quite so obvious although I did spot a trend for abstract tapestry on coats and trousers.

Fiona Harrison at La Scala

Inside La Scala!

While I was in The Galleria I treated myself to a new pair of leather gloves and then we continued to walk though to the other side of the road to the La Scala Opera House. Paul and I had the pleasure of visiting the La Scala museum the last time we were in Milan. We enjoyed it so much we decided to go again. The theater has received a number of improvements since we last visited including an extended fly tower which is now 56 meters high and is the same height as the Tower of Pisa. The museum has a wonderful collection of art work featuring many of the stars from the world of Opera and Ballet. I particularly love to see

Fiona Harrison with Maria Callas at La Scala

Me with Maria Callas!

the ladies in their beautiful costumes and 19th century fashions.

The following day we returned to Milan with our friend Franco and this time we traveled in on the underground. Coffee drinking is very important to the Italians and it’s often done on the go standing up at bars. Franco is the sort of man who needs his coffee fix before he can move forward with the day as we did the bar thing and then dinned in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It’s a wonderful place to sit and dine while watching the world go by. It’s also a popular place for photo shoots and even Paul was snapped by

Paul Marsden at Botsalino

Paul Shopping for Hats at Borsalino!

Spanish Cosmopolitan magazine who were doing a feature on men’s Italian street style. I didn’t have the heart to tell them he is English!

Afterwards we visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum which is also up stars in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. I had hoped very much to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper but unfortunately it’s closed to the public on Mondays and tickets have to be bought on line at least a week in advance. As we weren’t quite sure of our plans before coming away I hadn’t been able to organise this. However little of the original painting still exists due to the amount

Paul Takes Coffee with Franco!

of restoration which has taken place over centuries so visiting the Leonardo museum did gave us something of Leonardo’s genius to enjoy. Although the museum doesn’t focus on his art it has examples of his drawing designs displaying his ability as a inventor with working models which I found very interesting.

As I mentioned earlier Milan is all about design, with fashion at the top of the list. While we were in town there was a special Louis Vuitton exhibition charting the designer from when he first opened his luggage company in Paris back in the mid 19th century through to the present day.

The Perfect Vuitton Handbag!

The Perfect Vuitton Handbag!

Entitled the Capsule collection it had some wonderful examples of luggage recording the different times in history from piratical military design through to the glamour of ocean-liners and Orient Express train travel. It also had examples of Vuitton’s fashion label and I particularly enjoyed looking through the Louis Vuitton catalog charting the Paris fashion shows and designs over the last ten years. Good classic design never dates and I fell in love with one particular handbag for it’s simplicity. The clue is in the Vuitton handle as variations on V designs often appear in his collections.

The next day Franco and his wife very kindly took Paul and I to see the beautiful Charterhouse Monastery in Pavia. Known as The Certosa di Pavia  It is is situated in Lombardy, northern Italy, near a small town with the same name 8 km north of Pavia. Built in 1396-1495, it was once located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti

The Charterhouse Monastery of Pavia!

family of Milan, of which today only scattered parts remain. It is one of the largest monasteries in Italy.

Certosa is the Italian name for a house of the cloistered monastic order of Carthusians founded by St. Bruno in 1044 at Grande Chartreuse. Though the Carthusians in their early centuries were known for their seclusion and asceticism and the plainness of their architecture, the Certosa is renowned for the exuberance of its architecture, in both the Gothic and Renaissance styles, and for its collection of artworks which are particularly representative of the region.

Paul and I inside the Monastery!

Sadly were weren’t able to take photos inside the church but out-side the architecture is breath taking as we were taken on a tour around the church and monastery by one of the monks. Afterwards we visited The Ponte Coperto (“covered bridge”) or the Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”) which is a brick and stone arch bridge over the Ticino River in PaviaItaly.

The previous bridge dated from 1354 and was a replacement for the original Roman construction. It was heavily damaged by Allied action in 1945 and a debate on whether to fix or replace the bridge ended when the bridge partially collapsed

Paul at the Ponte Vecchio Pavia!

in 1947. The new construction began in 1949 and is based on the previous one, which had seven arches to the current bridge’s five. The current bridge, like its predecessor, bears a chapel.

It makes for a wonderful photo opportunity and Paul and I made the most of the location while basking in the Italian sunshine. Oddly enough I sing the phrase Ponte Vecchio in the aria “O Mio Babbino Caro”  so it was lovely to actually visit one.

Of-course all good things have to come to an end and for Paul and I to have had the opportunity

Fiona Harrison in Pavia, Italy

Enjoying the View in Pavia!

to perform in Italy and to have visited all these wonderful places will stay with us always. These are once in a life time opportunities and it’s important to make the most of them when they come along. A huge thank-you goes out to our host Guiseppe and all our Italian friends who have made our stays so enjoyable and Paul and I look forward to catching up with all our Italian friends again soon.

In the meantime it’s back to Blighty and in my next blog I shall tell you all about our 1940s shows up at the Newark Air Museum’s 40s event.

Enjoy the photos, Keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉

Sight Seeing in Pavia!