In a city with so much history along with modern beauty, Milan almost feels like a dream. It was so awesome to have my roommate here in Rome invite me to stay with her aunt in Milan, who was so generous to show us around the city and have us in her lovely home! Only a three hour train ride from Rome, we got a view of the incredible hills of Tuscany, got into the Lombardy region of Italy, and arrived at the train station Milano Centrale.
We got off the train pretty tired, but we still managed to get into the center of Milan off from the shopping district on our first day, into the Piazza del Duomo. This square was filled with maybe hundreds of people, and mixed with both the tourists and the fashionable people of Milan just trying to get home from work. Of course the most impressive thing about the Piazza del Duomo is of course the cathedral, the Duomo di Milano. The Duomo was built the late 1300’s, and it’s crazy to think how this building has remained intact and safe despite the years and the recent World War. I was told that this building had been recently cleaned to show off the off-white marble, and that during the war the Madonnina, the golden statue at the very top of the cathedral, was covered in order to not lure any possible bombers to the area. It is great that this building has remained so stable not only because we can still enjoy it today, but you can actually climb to the roof and see the most amazing view of Milan. The inside of the Duomo is just as amazing, with a large altar holding one of the biggest organs ever, impressive stain glass windows, and giant columns standing tall down the aisle.
After experiencing the Duomo we were treated out to a lovely lunch in a roof-top restaurant right across from it. This restaurant was on the top floor of a luxury department store, where I saw why Milan is part of the Big Four fashion capitals of the world! When you walk in, you’re greeted with luxury beauty and make-up brands from all across the world. The next floor had children luxury clothes like Armani Junior. The third floor was men’s luxury clothes, following the women luxury clothes like Moschino, Prada, Valentino, and more. I took one look at a price tag in the clearance section, and I was internally crying at the fact that I was no where close to being able to afford that! The top floor where the restaurants were also had a small grocery store filled with fancy pastas, olive oil, and chocolate. We sat down to eat where I ordered a delicious and warm (perfect for a cold day) pumpkin and squash soup which came with cheese and bread, and was introduced to a drink by my friend’s aunt called a Spritz, made with champagne, an orange drink, and ice. It’s meant to be drank before your meal, an aperitivo, but it was pretty big so I couldn’t finish it until the very end! But it was really good and refreshing, and went surprisingly well with the soup.
The next day we were treated to a bus tour (like the one I took in Frankfurt!) and managed to learn a lot of new things about Milan. Milan has actually changed so much, even in the last century. You can tell which buildings are older from the rest from the balconies. Buildings with more impressive stone balconies generally are the older buildings that managed to survive the war, while more modern buildings were built post-World War II. There were even old arches and canals that have remnants or have disappeared completely. For example, the gate from the old city remains in a mix of modern infrastructure. The bus tour was super relaxing and I managed to so much of what Milan has to offer. We drove by the Castello Sforzesco, which we then visited later on. This castle has a large clock tower and an expansive courtyard inside. A side room in the chapel even has the Pietá, an incomplete statue of Mary holding Jesus by Michelangelo, which was impressive in itself. I thought it was incredible how even though this piece is missing a lot of what it was meant to be, it was still so amazing and you could see the detail that was meant to be going on the statue by looking at the legs and feet of Jesus.
We finished our adventure in Milan by going to see the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and touring the church where it is held, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This church was pretty unique in the sense that it had “graffiti” style art, carvings on the walls and ceiling that portrayed different spiritual images. The church also had beautiful courtyards with fountains where if you look up you can see the dome of the church. The dome was quite particular in the sense that it had “fake” windows and pillars, which was meant to make it even more of a marvel from the people looking at it from below. But of course the most impressive piece of art in the church was the Last Supper, created in the 1490’s/Renaissance period. When I looked at the painting, I wondered about all the history it has gone through and what it has had to endure. In fact, during World War II the church was almost completely destroyed except the wall that held The Last Supper, so it actually stood facing the elements of the outside for a couple years before it was rediscovered and preserved. I also managed to learn a little bit about the painting, for instance, the disciples are group in pairs of three, each group having their own reactions and expressions towards Jesus proclaiming that he will be portrayed. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the painting, but I will insert a link to it here so you can see what I’m talking about! Although the colors have faded and pieces of it are now missing, it is still something so special and impressive I think people should go see at least once in their lifetime, while it’s still around.
Although I have been absolutely loving the ancient art here in Rome, something about Milan certainly made me fall in love with it. I’ve always been a fan of the modern design with a touch of antiquity, and Milan certainly passed my expectations with that. Huge thanks again to my roomie for inviting me to stay with her aunt! Hopefully one day I can go back for a longer time and be able to see more. This weekend I’ll be going to London and sipping some tea, but I hope you all have been enjoying the posts so far 🙂