The first international stop of our round the world trip was Milan. In truth I wasn’t really looking forward to Milan. There were other people who got our crazy flight deal that had to fly into Milan as well, but they decided they would skip touring the city and flew out the same day. Tim and I decided that we wouldn’t spend the night in Milan, but since our flight arrived early in the morning and our train would be leaving late in the evening, we had the entire day to explore the city. I’d been to Milan before, and I felt like I had already seen all there is to see there, so I thought I would be just seeing the same stuff over again.
The main attraction in Milan is the Duomo, the big cathedral in the center of town. Like most big squares in most big Western cities during this part of the year it had a big Christmas tree, although this one was just getting setup.
Even though I’ve seen the Duomo before, I was actually kinda looking forward to seeing it again because of a chance encounter at the airport in New York. We were sitting at the gate waiting for our flight to board when we saw two kids playing pretty rough. Tim, I guess because he has nephews and nieces that are pretty young, tried to scold the kid. The little girl stopped beating up on her brother, but then started hitting Tim and me. We were wondering where the parents were, when an older gentleman came over and told us to please be patient with the little girl, since she was being adopted from a rough orphanage in Serbia. We ended up talking with the nice old man for a bit, and found that he was originally from Milan, where we were headed. He said to look out for two things that are easily overlooked at the Duomo, one is the statue of Saint Bartholomew, the other was the calendar on the floor.
The statue was pretty easy to find based on his description. It was pretty unique looking because you could see Saint Bartholomew’s muscle definition pretty clearly, that’s because he was skinned alive and wears his skin draped over his shoulders. We walked all over the church looking for the calendar, eventually finding it near the entrance. It’s easily overlooked, and almost everybody walks right past it without noticing it. The calendar consists of a line with the zodiac symbols embedded along it. Apparently at noon each day a beam of light shines through the ceiling and a circle of light appears on the calendar. Unfortunately we couldn’t see it because we arrived after noon, and there was probably too much ambient light to see it anyways, since the door was open.
We went to Castello Sforzesco and took some pictures of the castle. I think we exited at a different side than I had last time, because I saw these park grounds for the first time. There were nice colors in the trees even though it’s pretty much the end of autumn.
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazia is the home of Leonardo’s famous Last Supper painting, which I missed out on last time I was in Milan because I didn’t buy tickets in advance. Alas I would miss out again because the church is closed on Mondays.
There’s a small church near the Duomo that has walls decorated in bones. I missed this last time I was in Milan. It’s a bit morbid, but this picture kinda describes how I was feeling at that point of the trip. I felt pretty dead, since I wasn’t able to sleep much during our overnight flight from New York. I’m pretty bad at travel math, but Tim calculated that we would be up for 30 straight hours. I really wanted to take a nap here, since it was pretty quiet, but Tim had something against sleeping near the remains of so many dead people. So yeah. I was feeling pretty dead at this point, but there was a light up ahead, our train ride to Venice was just a few hours ahead. And after that there would be much rejoicing. Okay maybe not so much rejoicing, but there would be awesomeness after that train ride. It’s kind of like the picture– there’s death, but there’s a light at the end of that tunnel, then the heavens afterward…
The last time I was in Milan I discovered the aperitivo, which is basically the Milanese version of happy hour. I thought the whole concept of the aperitivo was pretty awesome– you buy a drink and they give you free food, unlike an American happy hour where the food is just discounted. So we walked around the area between the Duomo and the train station looking for a place that had aperitivos. After a while we couldn’t find one and sat down at a random deli feeling utterly defeated. We each ordered a slice of pizza or something, and ate dejectedly. At 6 o’clock a waiter came and brought over an aperitivo menu– so apparently we weren’t defeated, we were just early. So we each ordered a drink, and they brought over the aperitivos, which consisted of various breads and deli meats and olives. That’s something I need to keep in mind in case I ever find myself in Milan again– aperitivo starts at 6 (which is kinda confusing because that’s usually when happy hours usually end where I’m from…)
After our little semi happy hour (it’s hard to be truly happy when you’re utterly exhausted) we had a train ride to Venice. So it seems like a day in Milan was plenty more time than needed. I guess I’m being a bit harsh in my judgment of Milan– it’s not a bad city at all, there’s just not to much to see from a tourist’s perspective.