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In the Footsteps of Pino Lella

It doesn't happen often that after reading a book you can compare most of the places and some of the portrayed characters with real sites and buildings along with real protagonists from the historical story. Actually, this never happened to me before and after I've reached the last cover of 'Beneath a Scarlet Sky', a novel written by Mark Sullivan, published in 2017 I saw the rare opportunity of visiting the city where it all happened and where all the sites still stand today. Not much later and after my entire family read the novel or at least got familiar with the story, we packed our backpacks and hit the road. In the aftermath, the result is this blog post along with embedded video story as a documentary of the half a day walking tour of Milan in Italy where everything happened more than 70 years ago. In the spirit of a fair warning I advise you to read the book first before watching the video since it might spoil the reading for you or to wait for upcoming series or movie with Tom Holland in the lead role.

The novel is based on a true story of an Italian teenager Pino Lella, who lived in Milan during the second world war and within the last two years until the very end of the WW2, helped many Jewish people to escape to Switzerland over the Alps and in the final year to act as a spy for freedom fighters while being a personal driver for general Hans Leyers, Adolf Hitler’s left hand in northern Italy. Pino survived all the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation and deeply fell in love with Anna, a girl he met on the streets of Milan on the day of the first bombing of the city. He constantly dreamed about the future they would one day share.

This book tour would not be possible at all without fantastic Valeria Andreoli from BellaMilano who guided us throughout Milan beautifully almost five full hours! It was amazing to mix the real streets, all the buildings, the castle and the cathedral, hotels, the train station and even the monumental cemetery with our vividly built images of all the places we already formed from the book and Mark Sullivan's amazing narrative.

Undoubtedly, spending three days in Milan for us provided lots of more opportunities for visiting the history back to the time all the way to Leonardo da Vinci. Around the year of 1482, he moved to Milan to work for the duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza as an engineer, sculptor, painter and architect. Until 1499 when Milan was invaded by the French he left behind the 'Last Supper', a famous mural painting of Jesus and twelve apostles, many paintings including 'The Virgin of the Rocks', Milan's Narvigly, the system of navigable canals to ferry people and merchandise in and out of the city, 'Leonardo`s horse', uncompleted equestrian sculpture and many more.

We were especially interested in Leonardo's engineering projects and his machines, models and sketches displayed in 'Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia - Leonardo da Vinci' and within new exhibition dedicated to this amazing man called 'Leonardo3' stationed in 'Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II', another Milan's landmark from 19th century. This second video log of Viktor's shows a glimpse of what we managed to visit and learn.

(Un)expectedly, at the end of our first visit to this great city, we have left with many more footage from what we initially planned to make with Pino Lella's and Leonardo's stories. All these are now packed in this third video embedded above and if you like to see more of Valeria and stories hidden behind Leonardo's paintings, especially the ones he did in the Sforza castle, if you want to learn what you need to do if you are in search for a good luck charm during your first visit to the legendary 19th century shopping mall or if you are eager to check out one great Italian restaurant along with couple of more places we managed to visit, this is the video definitely worth clicking to.

As for us, I am more than sure that Milan definitely didn't see us wandering its streets for the last time. The rest of Italy too.

The book references:

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: (en) (it) (srb)


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