Over the years, we have learned the art of travelling light(er). This time around, we each have one small carry on, and one small carry on sized checked bag between the two of us. This trip was a bit more challenging. As we planned for this trip, one of the things we did, as always, was look at average temps for the places we would be. Average temps for Milan for this time of year are in the low 60’s during the day, and high 40’s – low 50’s at night. Two days before the trip, we pulled up a forecast. The whole time we are in Italy, it is forecasted to be in the mid to high 70’s every single day. So, instead of all of the long sleeve shirts and long pants, we had to add in some warmer weather clothes for the front half of the trip.
I am not complaining, the weather is beautiful, but the suitcases are a little fuller than we normally make them.
So, on to our day. We had a wonderful breakfast at the B & B, and then headed out mid-morning to see the Duomo. In days gone by, we could be up at the butt crack of dawn and go for 12 hours straight. Those days, at least for now, are behind me.
Milan’s Duomo is the largest Gothic Cathedral, the second largest cathedral, and third largest church in the world. It has seating for 40,000 people, and was built between 1386 and 1813. Many cathedrals built during that time frame show different styles in the same construction, having Gothic, Romanesque, and other features as new styles came and went. The architects and builders of the Duomo stuck with Gothic with a discipline rarely found in other constructions.
When we arrived, we explored the Piazza (Plaza, or town square) a bit. There is a shopping area called the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle II, which was built in the 1800’s. One of the features was built from new technology available back then: steel reinforced glass ceilings that came about as a a result of the industrial age. It was just beautiful! Every area, every detail, was taken into account in the planning and construction. The floors, walls, ceilings, etc. One of my favorite things I have seen. Yesterday, I was not overly impressed with Milan. Today, I feel the opposite.
Once we were done checking out that area, we headed over to get tickets for our visit to the Duomo. I chose the €16 option which included an elevator ride up to the roof; Kelly chose the €3 option which was basically just the cathedral. Each ticket also included a visit to a second small church and an attached museum, we just got tired and decided to move on to the next item on our list after the Duomo.
A note about buying the tickets: we had to take a number to get in line to buy the tickets. Our number was 619; when we checked the board, they were working on person number 538. Almost a hundred people in front of us to wait on. There was a self-serve machine which might have been a little quicker, but judging by the line there as well, not by much. Turns out if we had done a little research ahead of time, we could have bought them online and saved ourselves almost an hour.
I went to get in line for the elevator up to the roof . . . another hour of waiting. At least there were entertainers in the piazza to take our minds off the fact that we were waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . There were Incas playing the pan flute, with their (fake) alpaca right next to them. There were transformers, Native American performers, bubble artists, singers, etc. Never a dull moment. It was an amazing place for people watching!
After about an hour in line for the elevator, I got to go up. Even though I took the elevator, there were still a couple of landings of stairs to go up. They were narrow and winding, and as we were going up, others were coming down. Very very close quarters, lol!
I took the stairs down when I finished, as the line for the elevator to go down was almost as long as it was to take it up. Kelly and I got in line to go into the cathedral. Earlier the line had been at least an hour and a half long. Luckily, it had thinned, and we were in line only for about 20 minutes.
We have been to many many cathedrals, but still managed to be VERY impressed by this one. Below you will see many photos taken on the inside. One of the most impactful areas is the statue of Saint Bartholomew. At the end of his life, he was flayed alive. The sculptor chose to represent him with his skin flayed, but slung over his shoulder like a cloak, or a bag of potatoes. Gruesome, but fascinating at the same time.
We headed out in the late afternoon to our final destination of the day: Saint Ambrose church. I know it seems that we visit a lot of churches, but neither of us is particularly religious. We both enjoy art, history, and architecture, and when you are in Europe, that means cathedrals. It is always interesting to me how an old church feels. Sometimes, it feels like a beautiful building but not much else. Other places seem to have a more sacred feel to me. The more monetized a church is and the more tourism there is, the less it seems to feel like a sacred space. However, almost every time, I find myself seeking out a spot that feels special to take a knee (or two) and say a prayer. Today was no exception.
So, St. Ambrose. This church dates back to medieval times. There were only two stained glass windows, all the rest were clear. It did not have the transept that many churches have, and has been restored over the years. It was founded by St. Ambrose in 379 AD, and there are still parts of the original structure inside. He is buried inside, along with two martyrs that he originally buried in his lifetime. Now they rest together.
After a quick stop at the supermarket to get lettuce for our salad/chicken dinner tonight, we headed into the subway. We finally figured out our exit, and got it right on the first try tonight. Progress is good!
We had a nice dinner, and plan an early bedtime, as we want to be up and out of here fairly early tomorrow to explore the area north of Milan known as “The Lakes” region. This area includes Lake Como, so we are hoping to see George Clooney out and about tomorrow. Just kidding . . . kind of.
Our breakfast set up this morning here at the B & B
Photos from the Galleria . . .
Images from St. Ambrose . . .
St Ambrose is in the white in the middle