I woke up this morning at 8:00 AM for a tour of Milan that started at 9:30 AM. When I woke up, I could not find my camera battery and charger that I plugged into the wall last night. My camera was still there, though! I searched high and low with no luck. The only thing I can think of is that when the person in the bunk above me woke up and realized he was late for his flight, which he was, that he accidentally packed my camera battery. Honestly, if that is the only setback of my six week trip to Europe, I can deal with it. My mom happens to need a new camera, so I’ll buy a new one for the rest of my trip and give it to her when I get back. Given this, I don’t have any pictures from my final day in Milan.
When I got to my tour, we got on a bus near the Duomo di Milano and got off five blocks later. Then, we walked up to the Duomo and our tour guide said that the building took over 500 years to build and is a mix of different periods of art. It was initially funded by a rich family, but after two generations, the people of Milan funded it by themselves. They also volunteered to build it in their spare time – pretty impressive. The square around the Duomo, Piazza del Duomo, was built after Italy was united under one government, so it has a newer type of style surrounding it as well. The inside of the Duomo was just as I remembered it from a few days ago. I wasn’t able to hear everything the tour guide said because we had little walkie talkies that we were supposed to hold up to our ear – not the best thing for someone uses crutches and needs both hands to walk.
Then, we walked through Galleria Vittorio Emmanuale II and learned that it was also built to celebrate the unification of Italy. Milan was the capital of Italy until Rome was finally conquered and annexed 10 years later. The middle of the Galleria had artwork representing the four areas of the world – Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Asia. It was the Italian way of inviting the world to join them in their new country.
Then, we walked to the opera house, Teatro alla Scala, and saw their museum. I learned the Milan opera was actually considered to be the best in Italy, so I guess I watched the opera in even a more historical place than I thought. We learned about the famous opera singers and writers including Giuseppe Verdi, the person who wrote the opera I saw two nights ago, Luisa Miller. He wrote operas with the intention of having them performed in the Teatro alla Scala.
Then, we got back on the bus and took a forty minute bus tour of Milan. Milan is hosting the 2015 World Expo, so they are in the middle of building lots of skyscrapers and two new metro lines. Our tour guide said that 60% of Milan was destroyed during the wars which explains how it is so much more modern than other Italian cities.
We also saw the famous castle in Milan, the Sforza Castle, and the Monumental Cemetery of Milan where there are over 20,000 statues and monuments, hence the name. Apparently it is a site to see! I’ll have to see it next time I’m here.
Then, we went to the whole reason I signed up for the tour, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It was worth it. The building itself was mostly destroyed in the war, but the mural luckily survived. It is actually painted directly onto the wall, hence why it can’t me moved to a larger museum. Even in the faded state it is in, the painting is one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. I honestly can’t put my finger on on exactly why, but I was absolutely absorbed by it. It was huge and life size. I felt like I was there!
Now, I can say that in this trip I have seen six of the most impressive pieces of renaissance art – the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel, the Pietà, the Raphael Rooms, the statue of David, and The Last Supper.
After the tour, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to my hostel. Now, I’m off to grab a tiramisu AND one final gelato as well as a new camera before I head off to the airport.
Note: This post was originally published on June 8, 2012 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe…Again” which chronicled my post-graduation trip across Europe.