Picture of galleria Our visit to Milan began with a few minor troubles. Due to poor weather in New Jersey, our 3-hour layover had evaporated to something around a 30 second layover and our luggage was sadly, unable to join us in Italy. Later, as if for revenge for being forced to spend the night in Jersey, it would travel to Rome without us. Approximately 36 hours after our arrival in Italy we were finally reunited with our luggage however, and boy were we excited about changing clothes. In the meantime, we had no cameras so there are no pictures from our first day in Milan. Luckily, we revisited many of the same places so this page is an amalgam of the first two days. This first image is of the Victor Emmanuel Galleria, a pedestrian mall which was covered with a glass ceiling in the late 1800s.
Picture of duomo The official postcard sight of Milan is the Duomo (cathedral) almost exactly as shown here but maybe slightly less tilted. The most impressive thing about the Duomo of Milan is the roof. Unlike other major cathedrals in Europe, the Milanese seem to have spent most of their energy on the outside of their cathedral.
Picture of in_duomo Not that the inside is hideous or anything, but it's just not that spectacular compared to other European cathedrals.
Picture of davidroof Nevertheless,it's a great place to visit because they let you up on the roof. Yes for only a slightly exorbitant fee, you can take an elevator ride (or stairs) up to the top of the cathedral and roam about. Apparently it has become a very popular sunbathing area for locals as well. Here is David on top the Duomo.
Picture of duomo_buttress The roof is nothing close to flat, and it can be fairly challenging to get around. This view along the side of the church shows the top of the flying buttresses supporting the main vault. When walking along the side, the pathway narrows around each buttress so that only one (thin) person at a time can pass.
Picture of duomo_roof Speaking of stone-work, it is truly amazing. There are over 3200 statues on the Duomo filling up nearly every conceivable space along the vault, the buttresses, and the spires. What isn't covered by statues is almost as elaborate. Some of the decorative work can be seen in this picture as well.
Picture of duomo_square From atop the cathedral, one can look down at the Piazza del Duomo. Along with the people in the square below are hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny black specks. Those are pigeons, which are at least as dangerous as the roving groups of small children trying to sell you things. We had a brief recreation of a scene from 'The Birds' in this piazza. Across the street, under the YKK sign is our personal favorite gelateria in Milan, probably because it was the first one we went to. We visited the gelateria each time we happened to be in this part of Milan. Gelato, is what Italian Ice aspires to be like but fails at completely. At this particular location we sampled coffee, lemon, blueberry, raspberry, pistachio, coconut, hazelnut, and,just for good measure, one more dish of coffee. In case you're wondering, yes we still managed to eat two pizzas for dinner.
Picture of duomo_steeple Along with the statues, the Duomo has 132 spires, and more are added from time to time thanks to a special tax the people of Milan pay. The central highest spire, shown here, is topped with a copper statue of the Madonna. This is a particularly fine viewpoint of the central spires because you can't see any of Milan's other high-rise buildings in the background. This is because it is our opinion that you do not want to see any of Milan's high-rise buildings.
Picture of sforza Across town from the Duomo is the Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle). Originally built by the Visconti family the Sforzas took it over in the 1500s. Today it contains several museums and most of it is open to the public. This picture is taken from the confusing mass of traffic in front of the castle. As far as we can tell, the Milan road system was not part of the original defense systems of the castle, but they do a fine job these days.
Picture of sforza_david The castle contains several open courtyards which tended to be filled with picnickers and stray cats. Our hotel in Milan (the San Guido - which we recommend) was within walking distance of the castle, although Milan seems to have a very nice subway system as well. Not too far away from the site of this photo was our personal favorite pizza restaurant. It was also the first restaurant we visited in Italy, but they secured their place in our hearts by adding egg as a topping to one of the pizzas we ordered. This sounds a bit odd at first but we were definitely converted.
Picture of sforza_gate This photo is actually of a completely different tower than the previous one. This side of the castle faces the part of Milan that contains the convent of Santa Maria del Grazie. If you're wondering why we've mentioned this, it is because in the refectory of that convent stands Da Vinci's 'Last Supper'. We headed over to the convent on Sunday morning but unfortunately it was closed due to restoration. So instead we went to the Pinacoteca Brera - Milan's largest art museum.
Picture of sforza_tower This view is from inside the castle where we spent some time sitting about on the lawn drinking orange Fanta. (Melanie's favorite European pastime is sitting about drinking orange Fanta)
Picture of peacearch Behind the castle lies the largest public park in Milan, the Parco Sempione. Actually, it was the only public park of any size we saw in Milan. It consists of several winding paths, a small amusement park, a tremendous number of soccer balls and frisbees, and a healthy supply of strolling drug dealers. We'd recommend visiting anyway though, it's fairly unobtrusive. The monument on the far side of the park visible in this photo is the Arch of Peace.
Picture of sempione This is the pond we were considering washing our clothes in if our luggage continued to spend time in cities other than Milan. Okay, maybe not, but our observations were that Milan would not be a good place to re-stock your wardrobe if you're on any sort of budget.
Picture of tx_pinacoteca

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