Wednesday, June 24


Milan’s Duomo, or cathedral, is an incredibly ornate Gothic building – at least from the outside. Its stark white marble walls, roof and flying buttresses are decorated with dozens of miniature spires, each capped by a carefully carved statue. Altogether the roof sports around 3500 carved figures. The overall impression is that of a dramatic oversized, wedding cake. Surprisingly, its interior is relatively simple, almost plain by comparison.

The Duomo’s external delights aren’t just confined to its decoration. A winding flight of 165 stairs takes you up to an equally breath-taking roof tiled in hefty marble slabs. You’re welcome walk across its entire surface. The city has even installed a temporary opera stage and tiered seating along its central spine, more than 40 metres above the surrounding plaza. The roof of a cathedral was the last place I’d ever expected to find an opera theatre.

Garry and I were lucky to see the Duomo in all its glory last weekend. I can honestly say that the building leave an incredible impression. Having seen so many cathedrals over the years it takes a lot to make another one uniquely memorable. Our awe-inspiring encounter is a relatively new experience. The building’s been partially clad in scaffolding for the last five years while it underwent a comprehensive restoration project. The last of the scaffolding was only removed in February.

While in Milan Garry and I also took time to wander through the city’s spectacular Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This indoor space was created in 1877 by covering two intersecting street in bold vaulted roof. It’s often referred to as the world’s oldest shopping mall. The Galleria also connects two of Milan's most famous landmarks: the Cathedral and it’s Opera House, the Teatro Alla Scala.

We also took in the grounds of the Castello Sforzesco, a classic Italian-style castle whose origins date back to the 14th Century. Unfortunately we were unable to secure tickets to see Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Apparently tickets sell out weeks, if not months, in advance. However all was not lost, in the forecourt of the Opera House we found a statue of da Vinci himself.

However, the most notable highlight of our city tour wasn’t on any tourist map. As we ate an alfresco lunch at a curbside table, we had front row seats for the arrival and departure of Milan’s fashion world elite who were attending an event next door. Jil Sander, a German minimalist designer, was showing off her 2010 Men’s Spring Collection. Outside the surrounding street was lined with paparazzi and chauffeured cars. It all seemed an oddly appropriate scene for the world’s self-proclaimed fashion capital.

1 comment:

rhonda said...

As I was reading, I was wondering how Garry took to looking at another church however I can see from the photos what a spectacular church this one was. I'm sure he couldn't help but be impressed. Your photos are terrific.