My quick pit stop in Milan for the last 23 hours has been quite nice. Yes it's a big city where rather than seeing churches every block you see a bank but I enjoyed my short stay. I'd consider coming back for a day or two in the future - and it's a good spot for connections. It's also got a good metro system so to me makes a city even more accessible.
With just basically an afternoon and evening I decided that I'd just plan to walk a bit, see the Doumo, and spend the evening at the Milan Expo (otherwise known as the World's Fair) that just started at the beginning of May. One of the top tourist sights in Milan is to see Da Vinci's Last Supper painting; however, the museum wasn't open given that it was Monday and I since I hadn't planned ahead at all on coming to Milan the likelihood of getting a ticket even if it was open was probably slim to none.
The photos from my Milan pit stop are here. Warning... most of them are from the top of the Duomo.
I arrived via train from Varenna hopped on the metro a few stops and was at my hotel quite easily. After a quick check-in and dropping of my bags I headed out. My plan was to head towards the Doumo and see that and figure out the afternoon from there. I'd seen a few pictures of the Doumo but honestly didn't know too much about it. The first glimpse of it, as I stepped out from a walkway of restaurants on one side of the plaza, made me gasp. I muttered something like 'holy shit' to myself and smiled as I walked up. Really, this place is unbelievable. I've seen a lot of amazing buildings and of course churches over the last two months but I'd say first sight of this one was especially good.
I followed the instructions in my guidebook and walked around the outside of the building before heading inside. The scale of it is massive and just staring up at all of the spires and details is amazing. Luckily while walking around the back I found another ticket booth which I think had a shorter line so that was a plus too. Once I decifered the ticket options - there were like six different things I could get - I headed inside.
There's beautiful stained glass throughout - though it doesn't beat St Chapelle - and the columns that support the structure are massive. Unfortunately the alter area was blocked off so I couldn't get very close to it. But that was OK because the main sight was up next - heading up to the roof to walk among the spires and look over the city.
With the option of stairs or elevator ticket I of course picked stairs. I had no clue how many it actually was but figured I needed my exercise for the day! Once you pop out onto the roof you're just looking across spires and buttresses. What was most unbelievable is the amount of detail all over the place. Every area was covered in whatever direction you turned. One nice thing about this roof as well is that there's a good bit of area to spread out and not feel like you're totally on top of everyone else up there taking pictures.
From the Duomo I wandered through some of the shopping streets, did a little window browsing, and headed towards the old castle and park area of Milan. I figured I'd grab a bite to eat and sit in the park to enjoy it. The day was beautiful so enjoy it I did :)
I then headed for what I thought was a cluster of buildings or perhaps a statue that looked like someone giving the middle finger, but it was actually a legit statue of a hand flipping the bird. Interesting indeed. Apparently this won a contest a few years ago for what piece of art would appear in the square where the Milan Stock Exchange and other financial buildings sit. Hmmmm. It is also apparently called L.O.V.E
The other item on the agenda for the day was to check out the Milan Expo. My mom, aunt, and I had a discussion when we were in Paris about whether or not the World's Fair still existed. With a little Google help we determined that it did indeed but wasn't quite what it was back in it's hayday of showing off the latest and greatest technological feats. And as it turned out the current Fair, or now called Expo, was happening in Milan and the theme was food and the future of food on our planet. It runs for something like 184 days and had just started on the first of May.
With a bit of research the other day I found that evening tickets starting after 7PM were just EUR 5 so I figured that if it was easy to get to and I didn't really have anything else on the agenda I'd head to it. Sure enough they've made it right at the end of one of the metro lines and for EUR 5 I couldn't really say no. I definitely would not have paid the full price of like EUR 30 to go for a full day but it was enjoyable enough for bit.
The Expo grounds are enormous! I think it's 1 million square meters or something like that. 130 countries are on display and each has created some type of structure for whatever their 'experience' is. Walking by each and checking out the interesting architecture was good enough for me, I didn't actually go into too many of them. There was of course loads set up related to the regions of Italy and different foods that are unique to each. There's also an Italian wine tasting section where you can have your pick of tastings from 1300 wines. Let's just say that was a little overwhelming!! They too were arranged by region so I picked some areas that I hadn't been. I had a nice taste of a white from Sicily that would be delicious on a hot day by the beach :)
For basically an afternoon and evening I'd say I did OK with Milan. It was a good final stop on my tour of Italy.
So where to next? Well, I've been stalking the weather and had been thinking of going south to Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. But it was looking a bit questionable for at least a day or so so I'm heading back to the the south of France and hopefully some sunny warm weather around Nice and Cannes. Amalfi will have to wait until next time. The next trip to Italy will definitely need to focus on the south since I spent most of the time in the north this go-round.
Back to trying to speak French I go!
Oh yeah, and one of these days I'll be back in San Francisco... time is winding down, likely in the next week or so. It feels both like I've been gone a long time but then again I feel like it's just been like 2 weeks. But alas, two friends have had babies, two have gotten engaged, and two are now pregnant. A lot does happen in two months - I just choose to stop time and re-start it when I feel like it.