Saturday, July 02, 2011

I Remember ... Milan

Here's what our bus seating charts looked like. We progressively moved to the back of the bus and then forward again. We stopped along the way for a quick lunch. We are getting quite fond of the Caprese sandwich at the AutoGrill. It's quite an interesting experience to place an order at this quick-stop cafe. First you stand in a bit of a chaotic line, decide what you want and pay for it. You then get in another line with your receipt at the service counter and wait for your sandwich to be prepared. So different from fast-food back home. One of the gals in our group got me hooked on gummy bears. It seems like the official candy of Italy ... ahhh, what a life at the AutoGrill.
We arrived in Milan at 1:30 p.m. and as bus parked and unloaded passengers I wondered, "Why visit here?" It felt very "big city" and kind of dirty. I would soon find out ... more about that later.
Milan, Italy's capital of commerce, is sophisticated and has urban appeal. Despite this, Milan seems to take a back seat to Tuscany's hills and the canals of Venice. It feels more European than Italian.
Our first stop was in a grassy area near the DaVinci National Science Museum. We had a guide explain the history of Milan using people in our tour group to represent those who invaded and ruled Milan long ago. It made it very interesting and easy to understand. Milan has had quite a complicated history involving France, Spain and Austria.
We were then led through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Walt remembers studying this in college. It is a four-story, glass-domed building built in 1870 and the first in town to have electric lighting. I'm thinking ... the first covered shopping mall. The paintings at the base of the dome represent Europe, Asia, Africa and America and the floor mosaics are beautiful. I'm starting to see why we stopped here.
As we exited the Galleria nothing prepared me for the view of the Duomo ... my jaw dropped and my feet stopped moving. Wow, THIS is why we toured this city. AMAZING! This is the fourth largest church in Europe. It is so large ... there are so many spires, pointed arches and gleaming white marble.

This Gothic structure was built between 1386-1810 and has 52 hundred-foot tall pillars representing the weeks of the year and the liturgical calendar. There are more than 2,000 statues inside and it was built to hold 40,000 worshipers. Our guide continued the tour inside and it was beautiful and fascinating ... large columns, stained glass windows. Even after taking many photos, I don't think any of them will reveal how stunningly beautiful this cathedral is.

We left Milan at 3:00 p.m. to travel to our last destination of the day: Lake Maggiore.

No comments: