“Saints and Spires” : Milan, Italy, 27th March 2011
I’ve been to Milan twice. The first time was about fifteen years ago in the company of a good friend of mine who had lived in Italy for a time and was going to show me around. This ‘showing around’ amounted to getting ripped off in a crappy touristy pizzeria, then drinking beer out of plastic cups in the mosquito-infested gardens of some great fortress or other. Not the greatest of impressions.
My next visit was an impromptu one a year ago. I had been based in Bologna and was nearing the end of a three-week trip to Italy. I’d planned on my final day being a trip out to Ravenna on the Adriatic coast, but as the morning dawned the weather looked dicey and I couldn’t face the prospect of a rainy day stuck in a small town with nothing to do.
At Bologna station I was very pleased to find that for a relatively modest fee I could get a high-speed train up to Milan in only an hour and a half, and even if the weather didn’t cooperate, it didn’t matter, since my goal was a prominent art museum.
When I got their, although it was cloudy and hazy, I couldn’t resist dropping by the extraordinary cathedral, which is quite jaw-dropping in its beauty. I wasn’t interested in going inside, though – my target was the roof. For a fee you could clamber up the stairs and find yourself on the marble-glad top of this enormous edifice, providing some remarkable views despite the poor weather.
A riot of hundreds of spires, statues, gargoyles and ornate stonework, it was worth the trip up to Milan just for this, let alone the excellent art museum I visited shortly afterwards.
I still don’t like Milan too much, especially when compared to Rome, Venice or Bologna, but this was a wonderful end to my holiday.
See a larger version of this photo here.