Friday, September 28, 2012

Sightseeing in Milan

"You FINALLY made it to Milan!" Our tutor, Dilva laughed at us when we told her... because Milan is very close to Como. As in, 45 minutes away. It's taken us months to squeeze in a trip to Milan.

Yes! We finally made it to Milan to sight-see and shop. Our train ride from Como was quick and easy. We had heard so-so reviews about Milan being "just okay." So we weren't in a big hurry to get there and see the sites. We were pleasantly surprised by the city center, including the duomo (cathedral) and Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II, a glass dome covered shopping center and architectural masterpiece. It was a nice, relaxing Saturday afternoon - we didn't have tickets to see Da Vinci's Last Supper (I'm finding it difficult to reserve tickets for that). They allow you fifteen minutes with the painting and are sold out months in advance... Next time we attempt to see the painting, we'll have to plan our trip far, far ahead of time. Instead of following a strict itinerary, we had a relaxing day - stopped at the duomo and wandered through Galleria (Yes! I spun on the bull's balls...), stopped for gelato just around the corner and walked through one of Milan's beautiful parks.

First stop: the duomo... Italy's second-largest cathedral, and the world's third-largest, this was massive and impressive. The duomo is said to have one of the nails from the crucifixion  but it's only moved to be visible once a year. We didn't take the elevator to the top, but you can walk the roof, winding in and around the spires. I think it would have cost around 50 euros to go to the roof, so we opted out. It was free to enter this cathedral and the line wasn't too long. I looked, but didn't see any signs saying that I shouldn't take pictures, so I turned my flash off (a pretty standard request in the cathedrals we've seen so far) and snapped away (respectfully, of course ;). Here are some photos from the interior:

There are many intricate, stained-glass windows throughout.

... and then we saw this guy. (Not the best picture, but I think you can tell..) It's St. Bartholomew, who stands wrapped in a sheet of his own skin. Bartholomew was skinned alive, so a lot of Christian artwork depicts him this way. What a terrible and gruesome death.

We left the duomo and headed next door, to Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II - the world's most beautiful mall! Of course, the stores there were a bit out of my price range, but a walk through the interior was completely free and gorgeous!

In the center of the building there is a tile mosaic on the floor - of a bull, who has no balls. Poor bull. It's said to be lucky for visitors to "take a spin" on the bull. Supposedly the locals will walk through and  stop for a spin mid-conversation, as if it's an everyday occurrence. While we were there, a small group was huddled taking turns - and photos of each other spinning. I don't believe in luck (in my humble opinion, God has got things under control..) but I'm definitely not one to miss an opportunity to make myself look ridiculous, either. :) So I did it - no photos or video, but it gave Cole a good laugh. Here's a really fun video I found on YouTube showing how it's done:

I was all worn out from spinning on the bull, so we stopped for gelato (any excuse for gelato!) at Grom, a popular little shop just around the corner...

We wandered and shopped a little more, stopped for lunch, and just had a generally relaxing day in Milan - a pleasant surprise. The city center was an easy walk from Milano Centrale, so we walked back to the train station before heading back to Como early evening time... we'll definitely be heading back to see more of Milan in the near future!