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Two Days in Milano

October 9, 2022

My hotel in Milan, the Rosa Grand, is just behind the famous Duomo in Piazza Fontana. My goals on this first afternoon were to get oriented, find lunch and pinpoint a place for dinner. Since I had done an abysmally poor job of planning for these last few days of my trip, I also spent a bit of time figuring out what I wanted to see. My big planning fail was not getting a ticket to see DaVinci’s Last Supper, which must be done well in advance.

First, of course, was the Duomo, a massive Gothic structure that dominates the immense piazza. I snagged a ticket for a guided tour on Monday, and also plan to visit the museum, so will have more to say about it later. But for now, a few facts.

It is the fifth largest Christian church in the world, surpassed only by St. Peter’s in Rome, Our Lady of Aperecida in Brazil, St. John the Divine in New York (who knew?) and Seville’s cathedral in Spain.

It is decorated with more statues than any other building in the world: 3400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures.

Construction began in 1386 using terra cotta stone, but given the grand designs for the structure, pink-hued white marble from Lake Maggiore was used instead. Nearly 80 architects worked on the design over the centuries.

In the end, I skipped lunch, had an early dinner and returned to the piazza for a few night shots.

I woke Sunday to rain, the first I’ve seen in nearly six weeks in Europe. But it wasn’t pouring, and my hotel doorman had a plentiful supply of umbrellas, so off I went to the Pinoteca Ambrosiana, a treasure trove of Renaissance paintings founded on 1607 by Federico Borromeo. There is also a library featuring drawings from Leonardo’s notebooks and some 30,000 books and 15,000 manuscripts, including the Codex Atlanticus, a 12-volume set of Leonardo’s drawings and writings. Unfortunately, its bookstore was closed, so I couldn’t browse there. About twenty of his sketches from the notebooks are on display, with his characteristic backward handwriting.

My final stop of the day was La Scala, the world-famous opera house, which is only a few blocks from Piazza del Duomo. It’s not currently opera season, but the museum is open and you can go into the boxes overlooking the theater.

Auditorium Chandelier

The museum, divided into seven rooms, has an impressive collection of paintings, busts of composers like Rossini, Verdi and Puccini, and an entire room dedicated to the prima donnae who graced the stage during the opera house’s golden age in the mid-19th century. Franz Liszt’s piano, recently restored, is the centerpiece in one of the rooms. La Scala has an app with audio tours that is very helpful.

A pretty full day in spite of the rain — including an overview of the city on the Hop-on-Hop-off Bus. One more day and my Italian adventure comes to an end.

From → Italy, Uncategorized

  1. Patty Swan permalink

    I so love your adventures, thanks for sharing!

  2. Cheri Anderson permalink

    The Duomo has to be one of the most fantastical buildings I’ve ever seen! Stunning images!

  3. What amazing feats of architecture, art, and technology you have witnessed in one day. I am guessing that you could visit the Duomo every day and find new features to intrigue you. I love sharing your adventures vicariously!

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