Lucio Fontana's Neon Lights

The Palazzo dell'Arengario is located in the Piazza Duomo of Milan.  'Arengario' refers to its original function as a local government seat in the Fascist period. The building was constructed during the fascist time but interrupted by the World War II and finally completed in 1956.  It is a building composed of two big square towers, standing directly opposite to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The outer walls were covered in the same marble from Candoglia that was use five centuries earlier in the construction of the Duomo.  The austere, rationalist style palazzo has big Art Nouveau glasses window. Inside the palazzo are superb views of the Piazzo Duomo and the surroundings.


In the 2000s it was restored and now housed the Museo del Novecento, a museum dedicated to 20th century art.   The museum is renowned for its unique collection of futurist paintings.  The top floor is featured with Lucio Fontana's fluorescents*, 430 feet of neon lighting that twist like arabesques. They hang from the ceiling.  In the evening the light shines through the windows and out onto the piazza.

*originally designed in 1951 for the staircase of the Palazzo della Triennale.

The day we visited was the funeral of Dario Fo, Nobel prize winner.  Many people gathered to say goodbye.


Tsz Shan Monastery 慈山寺

Tsz Shan Monastery is a Chinese Buddhist monastery established for preserving the inheritance of the Dharma preached by Shakyamuni Budda.  The monastery holds the belief that Budda nature is possessed by all sentient beings.  Right knowledge and right views can be cultivated through constant hearing, reflecting and practising.  One will then attain peace and happiness.

To non-Buddhist, probably the biggest attraction is the 76 metre high Guan Yin (Avalokitesvara).  It is made with bronze and coated with 5 layers of materials for rockets travelling to the space. The coating took 6 months. The statue can be seen from far away. It is now one of Tai Po's landmarks. 
Guan Yin represents boundless compassion and benevolence in benefiting mankind. The inverted bottle means all the precious drops are given to others.  The goddess does not keep anything for herself.  The presence of the gigantic statue has a connotation. Guan Yin's character aligns with the monastery's mission: to propagate Dharma and enhancing the well being of others through running Dharma talks / lectures, spiritual practices, experiential programmes, educational activities and community services. We saw people prostrating after every 3 steps and greetings to Guanyin.

The monastery's architectural style is predominantly Tang dynasty,   It is located on a hill with an expansive sea view.  The total area is about 500,000 square feet.  The simple and elegant style projects calmness.

Tsz Shan Monastery is tourist-friendly.  A video is played at regular time.  Our session started at 10 am. Free 3D spectacles are provided. A Caucasian man looks like mixed appeared and sought peace. The interaction between a mother and son portrays family love and care about the elderly. An active boy became industrious after interaction with monks. It wants to say Dharma can change from active to peaceful and harmony.  The video begins and ends with 一念動 一緣生.  It's difficult to translate but sort of 'a thought, and, magic....'

Photo from Tsz Shan Monastery official site
At 10.30 started our scheduled guided tour.  A thin woman explained everything about the monastery thoroughly. We began at the Great Vow Hall 地藏殿.  It is situated under the bell tower. Chinese says 聞鐘聲 煩惱清.  It means listening to the sound of bell will disperse the troubles. In the middle stand a Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha statue made of nanmu wood.  

The real start is the Main Gate.  It writes on the top of the gate 入解脱門 which means to the door of big relief.  The left and right stand two guardians.  Our guide explained in a funny way.  The one posting his hand with five fingers is expressing his discontent.  But his neighbour shows his hand with fingers like an OK expression. It's like hey and ha. Let the troubles go away.

Then we proceeded to the Maitreya Hall where the future Buddha sits.  The words on the top of the entrance means waiting for eternity.  For billion years Maitreya has to wait to become the next Buddha. It sounds desperate.  But we can also understand it as patience, humble, etc. Whatever we interpret, Maitreya appears in golden colour sitting elegantly.

On the two sides are Four Heavenly Kings.  They stand for 風調雨順.  God of Wind holding a sword to get rid of troubles. Next on the same side is the God of Music of ancient India. On the other side are God of Finance with an yellow umbrella guarding away rain and the last one with big eyes denotes to use constancy to handle every shift in life. 

The end of the axis stand the Grand Buddha Hall. Inside sit three Buddha statues: Sakyamuni Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru Buddha (the Medicine Buddha), and Amitabha Buddha.  Both sides next to Sakyamuni Buddha stands his attendant disciples, Venerable Mahakasyapa and Venerable Ananda. The one looks calmer is Buddha's cousin. He originally thought that he could share some of the Buddha's capability just by being Buddha's cousin.  But he could not.  Therefore, he learnt Buddhism teaching.

Tsz Shan Monastery is tranquil. Simple, assimilation with the nature gives a comfy feeling, though the weather during our visit was bad.  


Tsz Shan Monastery is very new, just opened in 2013. You may wonder there the capital is from, at time of so so economic situation.  Well, it is from the richest man Li Ka Shing.  He donated 2 billion from his Foundation to cover the development and the daily operating cost.

Be aware that you need to book to visit the monastery.  To go there, you can take bus 75K or mini bus 20B from Tai Po Market MTR Station. For the bus, get off at San Tau Kok station and follow Tung Tsz Road and turn right into Universal Gate Road. For the mini bus, get off at Tung Tsz Road and then to Universal Gate Road.  To leave, an extra option is to take minbus 20T from the monastery at designated time: 11.30am, 12.00, 12.30, 1.00, 1.30, 3.30, 4.00, 4.30 and 5.00.