touching the sky and hitting the streets in Milan

I woke up late on Sunday after our late night out on Saturday. I quickly got ready and checked out of the Hotel Garda. I made my way to the city center on foot. When I got close to the Duomo Piazza, I stopped at a café for an inexpensive Panini. Then I went around to the back of the church to buy my 7 euro ticket to climb the 250 steps to the top of the Duomo. The Duomo is the third largest church in Europe, and I can assure you that I have been to the top of many churches before, but I had no idea what awaited at the top of this gigantic cathedral in Milan. The view from St. Peter’s Basilica out over the city can not be beat, but the view of the intrinsic details and intricate design of the spires of Milan’s Duomo can not be beat either. The view over Milan was nice, but it was the hundreds of gargoyles, spires, and tiny details that really impressed me. There were small crosses on one side, probably more than 300 of them, and each one appeared different than the others. It is incredible how much thought was put into the design of the roof of the cathedral. Perhaps the architects thought the roof was an alter to demonstrate their worship of God? Because many people have no idea what awaits at the top of the Duomo, they have only seen it from below.

It isn’t all good, though. For one thing, in the summer, it is about a million degrees, with heat radiating from the sky and off of the roof, making it seem as though you are baking. Additionally, much construction is being done to the top; all of those details don’t have thousands of years of staying power. It is possible for rich donors to buy one of the Duomo’s spires, and finance the restoration and repair of that particular part of the roof. Hundreds of donors are necessary to cover the whole roof. At first I was agitated at the high admission price, but once I saw how impressive the roof was and how much work was being done, I understood why the price was right. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Milan, this is a must see!

I hiked back down from the roof after trying fruitlessly to capture a photo which showed what it looked like, and headed across the Piazza to the Museo del Novecento. This museum was especially cool, because it allows free entry for students AND there was an exhibit from Andy Warhol on display! The museum features modern art from the 1800s and on by artists who lived in Milan or Lombardy. The museum provided commentary about the progression of the artistic styles in recent years in this area of Italy, and even had a large room called the “Museum in a Room”, which presented some of the highest quality works from every 10 – 20 year period featured by the museum. In this way, it was possible to see the progression of the different styles and the development of modern art. The last exhibit in the museum was “Andy Warhol’s Stardust”; a collection of around 40 – 50 original Warhol prints. The museum provided guests with a free book dedicated to analyzing the artists contributions to the modern art scene, which is quite fascinating. I have been reading it during my free time since then.

After my cultural activity, I met up with Shirin to get some gelato at Grom; then we commenced our invasion of Corso Buenos Aires, one of Milan’s most famous shopping streets. We spent hours darting in and out of stores such as H&M, Nike, United Colors of Beneton, Puma, Kiko, and much more. I didn’t end up buying anything except groceries at a store that sold healthy granola, lentils, and fruits… Although I love my Italian family, they do not eat very healthy at all per my standards. The only downside to shopping in ultra-trendy and fashionable Milan, is that EVERYONE else is also shopping. Especially in July, when they have “saldio” or summer sales with 30 to 70 percent off of all of the leftover Spring collections. We ended up getting another small serving of Grom gelato to beat the heat and escape the crowds for a few minutes. The window displays and store layouts were all quite impressive but equally impressive was the image projected by the inside of each store. Each store smelled distinctly different, some smelled of flowers, and others like a forest, depending on the type of environment they were trying to create. The music also varied depending on who the target customer was in each shop. After shopping, we boarded the train and gave our feet a much needed 4 hour respite on the way back to Pisa.


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