• Ankitha Prakash

Economic Heart of Italy: Milan, Italy, 2016

MILAN! The city that holds its legendary for fashion statements in the world. Situated in the Lombardy region in Northern Italy, Milan is the global hub of fashion and finance. Apart from being the capital of Lombardy region, Milan is also recognized internationally as one of the world’s most important fashion capitals. But Milan is not all about fashion, though. It is among the great Italian cities where you can find rich history, art and culture through grand landmarks. Some of the major attractions I did visit include Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Santa Maria della Grazie (that has the famous, “The Last Supper’ painting) and in the north of Milan, Lake Como which is an upscale resort area with a dramatic scenery.

📍 Piazza del duomo

Piazza del duomo or the cathedral square is the main landmark to most of the monuments in Milan. The square is very lively and surrounded with some great cafes and restaurants you would love to explore.

How to get to there: My journey began from Bologna as I resided there. Started it by taking a FlixBus from Bologna Bus station to Milan Lampugnano Bus Station. By the way, I am huge fan of FlixBus services, one being for the reasonable prices they offer and the second is they take you from the best scenic routes around (if any). From the Lampugnano Bus Station, you can walk for about 4 minutes to reach the subway metro station and take M1 towards Sesto Primo Maggio and get down at the stop “Duomo”. In about a minute walk you will get to the Piazza del duomo, the square where Duomo di Milano is (20m duration overall).

Note: Milan has four metro lines M1, M2, M3 and M5 with different colors for each of the lines so be sure of which lines you are getting into, especially at the interchanging stations.

📍 Duomo Di Milano

A trip to Milan without seeing its cathedral is not a trip at all, so I am glad to get here. It was about seven in the morning when I reached the metro station “Duomo”. In about a minute or two after I started to walk ahead and turn my head sideways, is when I got to see the side view of the Duomo! Trust me on this, I just opened my mouth wide open and kept walking until I reached its front. After getting there, the only word that came to mind was, "The Masterpiece!". The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete is what I always heard, and it was clearly felt there. Due to the cathedral’s long construction time, the Milanese have created a phrase “la fabbrica del duomo”-for anything taking eternity to get done! The gothic architecture is truly marvelous, and it is said that there are more statues on this cathedral than any other building in the world. Make sure you read the history on its construction before the visit to observe all the details in a better way. It was such a picturesque view with the bright sky and just the church standing high into the sky with some birds flying around it, the very next moment I take my camera out and start capturing the moment. I still remember how many hours I spent there just trying to get “The Picture”.

It was now time to get to the inside of the Duomo. A civil engineer would be stunned to see this church’s naves built so high! The construction was made up of five naves with a central and two lateral ones on each side, resting on 40 columns of 80 feet each! The interior includes lots of monuments and artwork.

You can also pay a small fee to visit to its roof using the steps or the elevator to enjoy the architecture in more detail and capture the way to the alps (on a clear day). I could not do that as I was running late for my next visit but do not miss it guys!

How to get to there: It is located on the piazza del duomo and the route directions are mentioned before.

📍 Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria was named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy, situated just beside Duomo di Milano in the piazza del duomo. Being Italy’s oldest active shopping mall and the hub to many famous brands, it is also famous for its iron and glass roof. It is often called as “il sotto di Milano” (Milan’s drawing room) because of the enormous amount of shops, restaurants and hotels being placed making it a common meeting place and to dine in. If you are a brand fanatic and decide on spending most of your earnings, then definitely this is the place!

📍 Santa Maria delle Grazie

Being the church registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it contains the mural of The Last Supper Painting by Leonardo da Vinci. I was more than excited to see this, as I have grown up watching a small framed art print wall picture of this painting in my home’s dining room. Make sure you plan to book this tour at least two or three months ahead as it offers just 30 visitors per tour and there are 15-18 tours a day. So, making a reservation is a must for this must-see attraction! The tour lasted for about 10 minutes and the very sight of this beautiful master work still remains as a powerful and moving experience.

How to get there: You can either take a metro line M1 from Duomo station towards Rho Fieramilano and get down at the stop conciliazione, walk for about 4 minutes to reach (or) you can walk for about 25 minutes to get there (I preferred the second option to have a nice slow walk around the place).

📍 Lake Como

A vivid dream comes true! I immersed myself in admiring this beauty and marveling at its magnificence. Though I just spent a night stay at this place, waking up to look at this dramatic scenery from the window is one of the most memorable moments I have had! I would make sure to plan another visit to enjoy the essence of this place fully!

How to get there: Take metro line M3 towards Comasina and get down at the stop Centrale FS. Change to the train Trenord at Milano Centrale, line route RE8 and get down at the Varenna-Esino-Perledo Station (1h 23m duration overall).