I can honestly say that I am pleasantly surprised with Milan. After only being here for one day, I think it is one of my favorite cities. It is an Italian version of New York or London. I could definitely live here. It is essentially everything I liked about Rome in a newer, more modern city.
The trains run on time, there’s an extensive subway system, and it seems a bit cleaner than the rest of Italy. I also look a bit more like the people from Milan than the people from a bit further down south. All in all, I think I would fit in here pretty well!
Last night, I met a few people in my hostel from around the world – Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Italy, and one from the US that now lives in Hong Kong. It was a lot of fun to talk with them and learn about different parts of the world.
This morning, I ran into the person I met last night from Italy. We decided to go out and see a few of the sites. He knew the city pretty well as he lived in Milan two years ago. We were pretty good travel companions as he was looking to improve his English & I was looking to improve my Italian, so he spoke to me in English while I spoke to him in Italian and we corrected each other along the way.
Our first stop was the Duomo di Milano. The church itself looks majestic from the outside and is the third largest church in the world! The exterior is all white and adorned with thousands of statues. The inside of the church was even bigger than I expected. It was dark inside and the interior colors were very dark as well. The only light in the church during the day was through the stained glass windows around the perimeter of the church. We also walked downstairs and saw the “treasure” which was a bunch of different types of papal outfits, chalices, crucifixes, and a grave.
Duomo di Milano
After the Duomo, we tried to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, but we were denied entry. The staff advised us that we should have made a reservation at least two weeks in advance as only 25 people are allowed to view The Last Supper at a time. Each group of 25 people is allowed to see the mural for fifteen minutes before the next group enters the room.
Disappointed, we headed back to the area of the Duomo and parted ways. The Duomo is located right next to the most famous galleria in the world, Galleria Vittorio Emmanuale II, so I decided to walk through it. It was absolutely breathtaking – it is the model for many gallerias throughout the world including ones I’ve been to in Rome and Naples. The detail in the upper levels was absolutely amazing.
Galleria Vittorio Emmanuale II
Then, I walked back to the Piazza del Duomo to try and figure out how I could get in to see The Last Supper before I leave Milan on Friday. I searched on my iPad for about an hour before finally finding a tour of Milan that also visits the mural. It made my day. Not only will I be able to see a lot more of Milan than I would have been able to see on my own, but I will also be able to gain a better understanding for the history of each of the places we visit.
After booking my tour, I went to the ticket office for one of the most famous opera hoses in the world, Teatro alla Scala, to see if I could get a ticket for tonight’s show. I was able to get a deeply discounted ticket for an opera called Luisa Miller!
Then, I decided to take the elevator to the roof of the Duomo to look around. I’ve heard it is beautiful and it did not disappoint. It has over 1,000 statues on top and amazing views of the city. Even though I took the elevator, I still had a few flights of stairs to get all the way to the top after walking along the balconies of the Duomo. I’m not one to let a few flights of stairs stop me, though. The stairs were worth the effort as the top was amazing. The only thing that was disappointing was the fact that there was a lot of scaffolding and half of the roof was closed off due to restoration work. It was still very cool as I was able to see the skyline of Milan, including a few skyscrapers. Milan really is a mix of Rome and New York!
Front of the Duomo di Milano from the roof
View of Milan from the roof of the Duomo
After getting back down to the ground, I headed back to my hostel to get ready for the opera tonight.
Note: This post was originally published on June 6, 2012 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe…Again” which chronicled my post-graduation trip across Europe.