During our stay around the Garda Lake in Italy, we took a day off to Milan which was within 2 hours driving distance. I have never been to Milan before, so I didn't really know what to expect from it besides having heard of the beautiful Milan Cathedral aka Duomo di Milano
We didn't have a lot of time, because we left a bit late in the morning from the place we stayed, and wanted to get back in time before the time we put kids in bed.
Before we went to Milan, we searched for possible parking places in the neighborhood of Duomo. We have read some advices from people advicing to park at one of the outer subway stations and take the subway to the city center, but there were other reviews which were quite negative about this approach because of some theft cases to foreign cars parked at those outer subway stations. So we decided to take the safe approach, and accepted the necessary somewhat higher hourly rates of a parking place near the city center.
We parked our car at the Car Central Parking at Via Chiaravalle, 12 in Milano. Their rates were not too expensive with 2,50 euro per hour. It was pretty close to the Duomo too, so definitely worth it. After parking, we started our walk with guidance of Google Maps :)
As you can see in the first photo's the city center was not really crowded, which surprised us. But later in the day, especially when it was after 15:00 o'clock more and more people arrived. Apparently we were too early arriving around 12:00. The weather was not too hot, with a pleasant 27-28 degrees.
We arrived to the center sooner than expected. And when you enter the city center square, you just can't miss this building.
My first reaction was... WOW! You can see that this architecture has so much details right at the first sight. We started to look for a place where we could buy tickets to see the cathedral from inside and maybe go up to the top of it.
Right next to the cathedral, we were redirected to the Ticket office. Looking at the different combinations, the prices were not that high. At least, it was affordable considering the fact that we were on vacation and wanted to see beautiful places instead of shopping :)
We went for the Duomo Pass Lift, where you first go to the top with the lift and go down by stairs and finish the tour after seeing the cathedral from inside. Also because the kids were with us, we didn't want to take the stairs to go up, so this was the best option for us.
The lift took us up, but not till the roof top. We still had to take some stairs to go to the roof of the cathedral. But even from this height, you can take beautiful photo's of the city center square.
Look at the level of detail.... Simply beautiful...
Duomo di Milano is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan which is currently Mario Delphini. Looking at how big it is, it is obvious to see that this is the largest church in Italy, (St. Peter's Basilica church belongs to the State of Vatican).
This church at the same time is also the 3rd largest in Europe and 5th largest in the world! Just to mention how big it is :)
It took almost 6 centuries to complete this cathedral with Archbishop Antonio da Saluzza starting the construction in 1386 until the very last details completed in 1965. January 6, 1965 is considered the very end of the processes of finishing the details.
Looking at the city of Milan from the roof tops of Duomo di Milano...
After reaching the top, we went down by stairs to enter the inside of the cathedral. Also from the inside, this building was shockingly beautiful.
The statues as well as the pillars and the top form a beautiful mixture of different styles. Although this cathedral looks very beautiful and rich to us, this building received also some critics from well respected art critics.
John Ruskin, a famous art critic lived between 1819 - 1900, has written the following piece about Duomo di Milano.
"From every style in the world: and every style spoiled. The cathedral is a mixture of Perpendicular with Flamboyant, the latter being peculiarly barbarous and angular, owing to its being engrafted, not on a pure, but a very early penetrative Gothic … The rest of the architecture among which this curious Flamboyant is set is a Perpendicular with horizontal bars across: and with the most detestable crocketing, utterly vile..."
A bit too negative I would say. But then I don't know a lot about art anyway :)
I had some troubles capturing the whole section of the windows containing photographs above. Every piece of this high and wide glass contains a story/scene of old or new testament. It is almost impossible to see or capture the ones on the top.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
After seeing the magnificent cathedral from inside, we went out to take a walk around the Duomo. The first place which takes a lot of attention besides the Duomo itself is the shopping mall next to it called, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
This passage is Italy's oldest shopping mall and is named after the first king of Kingdom of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II. It is designed and built between 1861 and 1867.
So, I knew that we would see a lot of these shops like the ones below, it was very tempting for my wife to buy a bag or so, but after seeing the prices we thought it was not a good idea :D
Ok, now it is time to sit and enjoy a cup of good coffee in the center of Milano, Italy :) It is not cheap, but I can say that the coffee tasted good enough :)
Piazza della Scala
On the other end of the shopping mall, we saw a statue of Leonardo Da Vinci in the center of Piazza della Scala.
This monument is created by sculptor Pietro Magni who lived around 1872. Besides this statue, this central square also contains an opera house, Teatro alla Scala, and a museum about the history of La Scala, Museo Teatrale alla Scala.
Although we wanted to see a lot more, with small children alongside us, we had some tough times keeping them close to us while walking. If something helps in these cases, it is ice cream :)
After some time kids began to complain even more, of course after they ate their ice cream... We got on a bus to see a bit more from the city, before finalizing our visit.
15 euro per adult is not expensive for a 1 hour drive with the bus around the city. There were multiple bus lines, also a bus line going to somewhat further places. If I came here with my friends, I would definitely visit the San Siro football stadium, but unfortunately it was far away from the city center. We took the short line, and saw some places from the bus.
The castle behind the statue here is the Castello Sforzesco. The construction of this castle began in early 14th century. After having suffered of some damage in years later, it is renovated in 20th century. There are various museums within this castle. For example a museum where you can see some art works of Michelangelo (Rondanini Pieta) and Leonardo da Vinci of course.
This photo is taken on the Piazzale Cadorna, in the center of Milan near some transportation stations. No clue what this art piece is about... Maybe someone can enlighten us? :)
It is finally time to say good bye to Milano. It was short, exhausting but it was well worth it. Maybe next time I visit Milano, I come with friends to see more of it. We left after having a delicious pizza quattro formaggio of course ;)
I hope you enjoyed this travel post and I certainly advise to visit this beautiful city!