On Thursday morning March 3rd, I visited Milan’s Piazza del Duomo. (Cathedral Square). This is the historic center of Milan. It is anchored by the massive Duomo (Cathedral) of Milan, and the surrounding streets have premier shopping, restaurants, and a few museums.
While “Duomo” is a generic Italian term for Cathedral, and many cities have their own Duomo, the Milan Duomo is “the Duomo.” It is the fifth largest church on the planet, and the largest in Italy (not counting St. Peter’s in the Vatican, because that’s technically not Italy). It holds around 40,000 people which was the population of Milan at the start of construction. It was started in the mid-1300s and took five or six hundred years to complete, depending on how you define completion. Wikipedia lists the completion date as 1965, though it seems to me that the majority was finished in the 1800s during Napoleon’s rule of Italy. There will always be much maintenance and restoration work to be completed, so the church is nearly always “under construction,” and indeed one portion of one of the sides was covered in scaffolding last week.
The Duomo is completed in a Gothic style which is not found anywhere else in Italy. Its imposing spires awed me as I walked up the stairs from the subway. I got my picture taken in front of the church by one of the travelers from the hostel, who accompanied me, but I wish she would have paid more attention to the strange photo-bomber standing behind me:
The cool thing about visiting the Duomo is that you are allowed on the roof. It was €12 for an elevator ticket and €10 for the stairs. (Kind of a steep price but white marble ain’t cheap.) I haven’t been exercising enough so I decided to save the two bucks and opt for the stairs. Not recommended for those of you who are claustrophobic. It was a small, stone staircase that went on, and on, and on, and on:
When I finally reached the top, the views were amazing, both of the church and of the surrounding city. There isn’t much to say about it. Take a look below and also see my Flickr page for more. (Click the menu in the upper right to access Flickr, the Duomo pictures are from March 3, 2016.)
Old Milan, and new Milan, all in one shot:
After the roof, I went inside the church. Once again, it was incredible.
After the church, I went across the Piazza to La Rinascente, which is a famous department store, 7 stories tall, kind of like Italy’s New York City Macy’s. Not too different from what you’d see in the USA:
There was one big difference though. In America, mall food courts are not known for serving particularly high-quality food. Italians, however, just don’t stand for low-quality food, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. The 7th floor of the store had five or six excellent looking restaurants along with a small market. I had this fantastic sandwich (Tomato, Prosciutto Cotto, Basilico, e Funghi):
After my sandwich, I took the Metro back to Centrale station and boarded my train to Torino. This time, I paid for the high-speed train, “La Frecciarossa,” or, “The Red Arrow.” This train travels on average around 200 miles per hour. It got me from the center of Milan to the center of Turin (similar to driving from Cleveland to Columbus) in about forty-seven minutes. We traveled next to the highway (Autostrada) for much of the journey and it was awesome to see us zoom past the cars and semi-trucks.
And that concludes my first trip out of town. Tomorrow I fly to Rome after school, so stay tuned for that post!