My time in the beautiful Lake Como had been amazing, but I when I found out Milan was only an hour’s train ride away, I quickly added that to my itinerary. I took an early ferry over to Varenna, where the train comes from Switzerland down into Milan. I had never taken a train in Europe before, so I was a little nervous. I made my way up the hill and found the cute little train station at the top. I had time to spare, so I had my new favorite drink, espresso.
The train was soon there and I was on my way to Milan. When it arrived in the main station, Milano Centrale, I was overwhelmed with how big it was. I quickly found my way to the exit and was greeted by a view of bustling Milan. The first thing I noticed was the impeccable fashion by both the men and women. I had heard they always dressed well, but I couldn’t believe seeing so many women walking on the cobblestone streets in high heels and men in suits on such a hot day.
The main thing I wanted to see was the Milan Cathedral, or Duomo. When I looked at the map on my phone in the hotel, it seemed like a pretty straight shot to get there from the train station. That wasn’t quite the case once I had been walking awhile though. I tried to ask a newspaper salesman if I was headed in the right direction, but he quickly dismissed me saying he didn’t speak English. Lesson learned: take an actual map next time.
Miraculously, after walking a little farther in what I thought was the right direction, the steeples appeared in all their glory. I found the ticket booth and got the ticket for the stairs only instead of the elevator to get a little extra exercise. After going up the windy stairs for what seemed like forever, I was finally at the top.
A little background on the Milan Duomo…it is the 5th largest cathedral in the world. They started building it in 1386, and it took over 600 years to finish building. There were many revisions as new rulers took over each century, delaying the completion. Finally, in 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered it to be finished, and the construction was complete. A statue of him was put on one of the spires as a form of thank you, and Napoleon was crowned the king of Italy in the Duomo.
The first thing I noticed was how much detail there was everywhere. It was beautiful and showed how much time was spent on it. You can walk around the edge of the cathedral to see a 360 degree view of Milan. It’s quite a large city, which I realized more once I looked out from the top. You can also walk up a little higher to be essentially on the rooftop. It’s slanted and a little slippery, but provides even better views.
After I had soaked in the views of the city, I descended the stairs to do some window shopping. Milan is known for their high-end fashion, and the streets were filled with stores so fancy they had staff at the entrance of each store to filter out who came in. The only store I went in was the Milan soccer store, which did not require a credit check. It was a pretty hot day and I was tired from all the walking, so I headed back towards the train. I had already bought my return ticket at the train station in Varenna, so getting back was a cinch. I felt happy I was starting to get the hang of the trains. After I got off the train, I had a delicious dinner and a “birra” to quench my thirst. Milan was a little overwhelming, but I’m glad I had the chance to explore it for a day!
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