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20 March 2010

hello milano

i should write a report about my trip to milan before my impressions go away. it took me nearly a week because i was focused on  many different chores but i also lacked inspiration. the truth is that our trip to milan, one of the capitals of design and fashion, wasn't a very inspirational experience. this doesn't mean it wasn't nice, we totally enjoyed our getaway, but i know the city quite well, therefore nothing surprised me. 

i lived in milan for about 1 year when i worked in the prestigious economic university bocconi in 1999. i was more curious to see how the city looked like after so many years. nothing much has changed, it's pretty the same with the natural evolution of shops and bars. so we took relaxed strolls through the medieval center, which is small and can be calmly visited in one day. one by one, we saw the main attractions: 

the gargantuan (15th century) sforzesco castle, one of the finest palaces of the renaissance, restored after being bombarded in ww2, whose vast interior contains 3 museums, with the one of historic art being the most precious. 

piazza mercanti,  the medieval heart of the city 

galleria umberto II, a four-storey covered arcade named after the first italian king and built at a time (1865-78) when the use of iron and glass for the roof was innovative, and when the concpet of a covered arcade for offices and apartments was new too. 

it's a a fashionable place to hang out or sip martini through its exclusive shops and it links to the neoclassical scala theater, the most significant opera house in the world, built in 1776 with the assent of maria teresa of austria, also duchess of milan at the time.

and of course the duomo, which is the only thing that doesn't stop to impress me, by the way. it's the 4th largest cathedral of the world, its construction begun in 1366 and went on for five centuries, although most of it was completed by 1485. all architects who took part in its construction improved upon the work done but left its gothic imprint intact. the candoglia marble from maggiore lake shines in the square that bears its name. 

"what a wonder it is! so grand, so solemn, so vast!
and yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful!"
- mark twain in innocents abroad

the roofline dissolves into openwork pinnacles which are punctuated by magnificent spires, topped with marble statues that look down on the city. of these, the most recognisable is the famous ‘madonnina’, a baroque gilded bronze artwork covered with gold leaves. it's on top of the cathedral’s main spire and it's the symbol of the city.

from summit to base, the walls have  more than 3000 marble statues, each one a study in itself, as well as fine paintings. 

(detail of the main, rich door)

the interior is also very rich. it consists of a nave that rises to 45 mt and it lacks light, which is filtered by the stunning ambulatory windows, superb examples of stained glass windows that were executed in the 19th century by the bertini brothers. most treasures in the duomo’s interior, such as ivories, vestments and tapestries as well as sacred vases in gold and silver are gifts that have been donated by princes and noblemen during the centuries of the cathedral’s existence.


to me, the most amazing part was climbing to the roof, because i could admire the forest of pinnacles and spires set upon delicate flying buttresses from a closer distance.

once on the roof, the view over milan and the alps on the horizon was breath-taking ... what an experience!


so, you folks, make sure to include milan in your tour of italy. rome is historical, venice is romantic, florence is artistic and can't be missed, but milan is beautiful and undervalued. contemporary energy balanced by some world-famous works of art and architectural landmarks: this is milan. for you to enjoy!


  1. Excellent photos as always. I missed you here!!

  2. you're always so flattering!


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