2022 – Milan, Italy

The day after Christmas we boarded an EasyJet flight from Manchester to Milan, Italy for our first visit to Italy and then Switzerland.  Air fares are quite good around Europe, and we didn’t want to miss the chance to do some exploring.  As we approached Milan we could see the Alps (Italian or Swiss?) down below us.  That marked the beginning of our Adventure.

Milan is a big city, filled with activity everywhere.  We got around using public transportation, mostly the subway.  I specifically picked our hotel based on its easy subway and train access – right across from the Milan Central Train Station.

Since we don’t speak Italian we were concerned about the language barrier.  We learned just a few phrases, but before long we realized that everyone seems to speak English.  Some people just looked at us and switched to English (apparently, we “look” like tourists).  I tried my few Italian words out, but, apparently, even my Italian sounds like American English because they would usually answer me in English anyway.

We bought 3 day transit tickets, so we could hop on and off of the subway or trolley where ever we wanted.  That set us free to explore the main sights of the city.  The subway, by the way, is very popular and more often than not it offered standing room only.  Most of our trips were 3-5 stops, so that wasn’t a real big deal except for the afternoons when we were getting leg weary.  We never rode the subway during rush hour.  I can’t imagine the cars being more crowded than they were.

One of the highlights of the city is Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural, The Last Supper, which was painted in the late 15th century.  We had to buy tickets early to see it, but we felt it was well worth the effort.  The painting is on the wall of the church.  Amazingly, it survived Allied bombs that hit the church during WWII.  It was humbling to see the famous art in person.

In route to see the painting we walked around the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.  This is a very upscale shopping area, filled with luxury stores.  The entire area was crowed to the point that it was hard to walk around. I think everyone was touring like us, although a few people had shopping bags, so some people were there to actually shop!

The heart of Milan is the huge Duomo Cathedral. The church dates back to the 1300’s and construction continued on the building over 600 years!  One feature not to be missed is the rooftop tour!  By going up on top you get a more close up view of the amazing architecture of the building.  There are statues, latticework, and spires everywhere.  It is amazing to me that statues would be placed in areas that could never be seen from the ground.  We took the elevator up but ended up climbing up and down many stairs as we followed the route up higher and higher.  Of course, the views of the city are magnificent.  Then, even from the roof top there are still more spires towering high above.  The inside of the building is amazing too.  This ancient church seats 40,000 worshippers!  It seems that every square inch of the interior is carved, decorated, etc.  There are stained glass windows everywhere, including some huge windows made up of smaller windows that tell the story of the Bible.

After finishing up our tour of the church we hopped on the subway to visit the Piazza Gae Aulenti.  Visiting this ultra-modern shopping area after exploring the Cathedral nearly gave us “architectural whiplash!”  From an ancient building we found ourselves surrounded by the latest, most modern buildings you can imagine.  The Christmas market was still in operation, and there was a giant “tree” constructed of snow sleds.  It was very interesting.   In the near distance there are two “forest” sky scrapers.  These big apartment buildings are covered with trees!

For meals we had mostly pasta.  One night I had a pizza that was quite good.  The next night I had lasagna that was even better.  Jackie loved the Alfredo with mushrooms she had one meal.  I enjoyed a coffee they have called a macchiato.  It is similar to a latte but somehow better.  It seems that there are coffee shops and pizzerias on every corner.

I think we could have continued sightseeing Milan a few more days.  It is an interesting and fun place to visit.  If you come, don’t miss the Cathedral rooftop or the “Last Supper.”