Marvels of Milan

Day 1:We left Santa Lucia station of Venice early morning by Trenitalia superfast train.We reached Stazione Centrale in Milan after about two and a half hours.The facade of the railway station in Milan was the impressive of the lot we saw in Italy and had a character.

We thought our hotel was near the railway station and the Duomo. We wanted to be near the railway station as we had planned to take a train to the International Airport the next day.But it was not the case located as it is near the Piazza Repubblica. Unlike the other cities we visited Milan appeared a modern city by comparison. Our decision to include Milan in our itinerary was guided by two reasons: we had a direct flight to Delhi and there are two marvels of Milan we wanted to experience.

After checkin to our hotel we walked towards the Duomo di Milano.Enroute we passed by beautiful thoroughfare as evident from photograph below.

Before going into the square with Duomo we passed through the impressive shopping arcade called,Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is ,said to be one of the oldest in the world.This is where you spend serious money.

After leaving the impressive shopping arcade you emerge into a piazza and are floored by your  first view of the Duomo di Milano.

The facade of the Duomo is magnificent and the most exquisite of the cathedrals we had seen in Italy. Unfortunately we had not purchased the skip-the-line ticket to enter the cathedral and there was a long queue to purchase the ticket. We spent some time in the piazza to soak in the atmosphere, full of tourists.People also take the elevator to the top of the cathedral. We had read that if one is afraid of heights ( which my wife was) it is not a good idea to go up.

Day 2: Our last day in Italy also held in store for us the other marvel of Milan: ” The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci”(the other marvel being Duomo). The locals told us that the best way to get to the church housing the painting is to take the metro to Cadorna and walk for about 15 minutes.We could not get ticket for viewing the painting as everything gets sold out in no time. So we had to opt for one of the many tours which includes the viewing of the master’s most famous painting( Cenacolo Vinciano).We had to leave for the Airport in the evening. So we opted for the shortest ( and the cheapest tour available: Musement tour which promised a tour of the Piazza Santa Maria Della apart from viewing the painting ( in reality there was no visit to the church, the guide just tells you to visit it). The face value of the ticket to view the painting is 12 Euros ( including Euro 2 towards advance booking). And we had to pay almost four times the ticket price to Musement for the tour. 

However it was worth it. We were given audio guide and the lovely guide told us that what we will see is only about 25% of the original painting.This because the painting was not a frescoe as was the norm. Leonardo bring a maverick used his medium , wood we were told. Therefore it detonated over time and all the restoration has taken its toll. However the guide told us is what you see is probably what Leonardo wanted in the first place.

The entry time to view the painting is fixed and at a time only limited people are allowed in and that also for only 15 minutes. Whilst photograph is allowed the flash is not. The room has controlled environment( temperature and relative humidity).And there security guards who would protest in case you violate the rules. We were advised to have a look st the painting from a distance to get the perspective.

It seems that the faces of the apostles in the painting belonged to actual people Leonardo had met in the streets of Milan. His favourite was painted as a face of a Roman and Judas’s face was that of a criminal. Soak in the atmosphere and also look at the other paintings in the room. Once you are out of the room , you can view a copy outside to see in case you missed anything indide( I thought I missed the knife in the traitor’s hand). Visit the souvenir shops although expectedly things are expensive. Use the wash Roy for free. 

When you come out you can visit the church nearby, Santa Maria Della Grazie.The entry is free. Our guide told us that the brass rings on the pillars located in front of the church was probably done by Leonardo.

Picture top: The person standing at the entrance of the church was a beggar.

The inside of the church is nothing much to write home about specially after the high of viewing the painting.

From the hotel we visited the Berra district with the objective of some shopping. However seemed to us Milsn is only for the well heeled as far as shopping go.Infact we found that Milan is not the best place to shop for the budget traveller( the distinction for which must belong to Rome).

We had planned to take the Malpensa express train from the Milan Centrale station to reach the International Airport. But it is bit of a challenge to catch this train what with poor signage. Do not go to the red Trenitalia machines to purchase your ticket. The colour of the ticket machines( they are lighter coloured). The platform number is either 1 or 2. You might as well catch a bus from the station for similar price(13 Euros). The train stops at a number of places enroute and is mostly crowded. However there is adequate space for your luggage and charging station for your mobile phone.The train is however a convenient means of reaching the airport and once you alight you can easily walk to your terminal in the International Airport.There are just adequate shopping options in the airport. Save your money till the end and splurge on the duty free shop selling drinks , chocolates, etc. at very attractive prices.

My app showed that we had walked almost 17 kms that day- a perfect end to our DIY trip to Italy. 

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