22 January 2007

Milan Experience: A Photographic Journey

Without a doubt, the highlight of Milan is the Duomo de Milano (Cathedral of Milan). Italy's largest gothic cathedral, it is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Begun in 1397 and finished in 1813, the structure features 135 spires and over 2000 statues. As well as rows of flying buttresses. C'mon, say it with me: "Flying Buttresses." Isn't that a fun one!

What makes the Duomo very special for me is that it is the first cathedral roof I have ever visited. And the view is spectacular! It was well worth the visit, even if my vertigo kicked in a couple of times.

Of course, the interior is beautiful as well.
I wish I had more photos to show of the interior, but I only had the new point and shoot digital camera with me. I brought only that one in order to force myself to learn how to use it. Last time I do that. It's abilities in low-light are not nearly as good as the Nikon D70s, so I missed a lot of potentially fabulous shots as a result.

After leaving the cathedral we walked through the Piazza del Duomo. While GLH consulted the map and guidebook, I stood and gazed around me. Suddenly, a man approached and grabbed my hand, speaking in very fast Italian. He would not let go, no matter how much I tried to get away and said "No!" He put some birdseed in my hand and I was immediately surrounded by pigeons. By the time GLH looked up, he thought I had actually wanted this, but I was still trying desperately to get away. Finally, I wrenched my hand away while the man walked behind me screaming for money. GLH stepped in, towering over him, and forced him to back away. I later found out that the Duomo Birdseed salesmen are notorious for this kind of behavior.

After that experience, I needed to recover. So we found a nearby cafe serving gelato.

While taking a photo of the gelato offerings, our waiter stepped up to me, posed and said "Me too! Me too!"
It was just what I needed.
After a cappuccino (for GLH) and a tea (for me) plus a shared gelato, we wandered down via Orifici, which confusingly for us soon became via Dante. But we went with the flow until we spotted Castillo Sforzesco in the distance.

Originally built in 1368, it was remodelled by Francesco Sforza in the 15th century with the help of Leonardo da Vinci. The castle grounds now contain several museums, including Museo Egizio (Eygptian Museum), Museo della Preistoria e Protostoria (prehistorical), Museo d'Arte Antica (antiquities) and more. Unfortunately, by the time we made our way to this area of Milan the museums were about to close, so we only got a quick peek inside the doors.

Behind the castle is the Parco Sempione, a 47-hectare park featuring a neoclassical arch.
Although what we found amazing about this park (and other parks throughout Milan) was that most of the benches were occupied by extremely amorous couples, most of whom were "all but" right out in public. Including one couple that were in their 80's and still "getting busy!"
It was both refreshing and a shock to our Midwestern eyes. After all, in Minnesota we sometimes get emotional enough to almost say "I love you" in public. Almost.

As it was after 6 pm and we were quite hungry, we wandered back towards the Duomo to find a restaurant for dinner. However, none of the restaurants opened until 7 - 7:30 pm. Given my blood sugar issues, that was a little too European for me. (I don't know how I would survive in Spain, where people do not eat dinner until 11 pm!)
We stopped at a sidewalk cafe for an apertivo and people watching while we waited for the magical 7 pm. We also walked through Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II. I loved its glass and metal work as well as the beautiful mosaic floors. Apparently I was also supposed to be impressed by the original Prada store within it. But I just stood and looked at the incredibly expensive, and frankly rather ugly, leather-fringed purses. Fashion is lost on me.

Promptly at 7 pm we went back to a restaurant for dinner. And joined all the other Americans and English who were queuing up for a table. Dinner was wonderful and we very much enjoyed the tiramisu as well. As we were leaving, the Italians and French were just arriving for their dinner. A full two hours after the Americans and English. Cultural differences are amazing, eh?
After dinner we aimlessly strolled back in the general direction of the hotel and came upon the Teatro all Scala, Milan's Opera House.

All in all, Milan was a fabulous trip and we highly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

Good lord woman, no way would I ever get on that roof! I'd wait downstairs with the gelato. ;) Great pics though - Milan has just been added to my list.

Global Librarian said...

If I can do it, you could. I'm a big, old scaredy cat.

Expat Traveler said...

so you did this over the weekend? Isn't nice to be so close! Lovely pics. Make sure you also get up ot the rooftop churches in Zurich when the sun is out. You get some great views too... And also using the tram to go to the mountain tops of Zurich/Uetliberg.

Sarah said...

I'm incredibly envious. Keep posting photos -- it will provide the needed ammunition to convince my significant other of the urgent need to see these places for ourselves!!! :-)

Global Librarian said...

At your service, Sarah...