Italia! Day Eight (The big day!)
Trip Start Jan 05, 2011
61Trip End May 18, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
So this is it! The day I had been waiting for. A visit to see the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral). Since before I ever contemplated studying abroad, I was interested in the Milan Cathedral; it was so big, so majestic. The Duomo is to Milano as the Colosseum is to Rome.
But let's begin at the beginning. Our 18 hour day was divided into six hours of train travel to Milan from Trieste, six hours in Milan, and six hours back. Needless to say, our day started pretty early. It was so tempting to sleep on the train, but I felt guilty, going through the Italian countryside and not seeing any of it.
We arrived in Milano sometime around noon
Anyhow, we did manage to find our Italian at the appropriate station. Ascending from the tunnels, the mighty Duomo rose like nothing I had ever seen before. The sight of the Duomo really cannot be compared to anything else. I think Mark Twain said it pretty well:
"What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate,
so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems
...a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!... The
central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of
birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously
carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures-- and the
figures are so numerous and the design so complex, that one might study
it a week without exhausting its interest...everywhere that a niche or a
perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base,
there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself...Away
above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires
spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky
flagstones, were the long files of spires, looking very tall close at
hand, but diminishing in the distance...We could see, now, that the
statue on the top of each was the size of a large man, though they all
looked like dolls from the street... They say that the Cathedral of
Milan is second only to St. Peter's at Rome. I cannot understand how it
can be second to anything made by human hands." (Summer of 1867)
Construction on the Cathedral began way back in 1386 and was officially completed on January 6, 1965, meaning that, yes, it took nearly 600 years to build this thing! Even today, there are blocks of granite which have yet to be carved as statues. That, to me, is just hard to fathom. It really puts into context the brevity of life. It's strange to think that the original architects never got to see their work realized, and yet, it is their legacy. It's also fascinating, in my mind at least, to recall all of the historical events that have helped shape and been shaped by this church. For example, the completion of the outer facade (the white marble) was expedited by Napoleon Bonaparte, who had chosen the Duomo as the place to be crowned king of Italy. Before he pressed for it's completion, work was at a standstill due to low or no funding. Napoleon promised that all funds would come from the French treasury (of course, that never actually happened). Apparently there's a statue of Napoleon on the church somewhere, I couldn't find it
One of the coolest things about the Milan Cathedral is that they let you climb up to and walk on the roof! (for a measly 5 euro) Doing so really is the best (if not the only) way to really see all that the Duomo has to offer, as far as examining the architecture goes. Walking on the roof of this magnificent church was nothing short of incredible. The beauty of it all is nearly too much to soak in an an hour or so (which is about how long we were up there). I could have easily spent the entire day up there. And some people do. I'm a bit jealous of people who live in Milan...
After we had had our fill of the Duomo, Ashley and I had some time before we were set to meet up with Elisa, who had left us to check out a university in Milan. We, in the absence of a better plan, resorted to wandering aimlessly through Milan (which is always fun). I don't remember seeing anything of particular excitement, especially after seeing the Duomo (maybe Ashley can contribute something of value in the comments...).
Anyhow, I'll let the pictures do the talking from this point. If you have anything you'd like to say, anything at all, please comment below. Also ask those burning questions that I'm sure you all have.