DAY 3 Monday 23 May 2005

A Tour of Milan

Monday started at 6am with the screech of trams stopping and negotiating the tram stop beside the Repubblica Metro Station. The trams plus the effects of jet lag had me walking the streets at 7am, past the botanic gardens and alongside the railway. Passed a corner shop that looked strangely familiar, being the Italian arm of the Australia/New Zealand second hand shop Cash Converters (see photo below). 

A brisk walk back to the hotel and breakfast - a full meal of breads, sweet pastries, meat and cheese, as well as bacon, sausages and eggs.

The tram stop at Repubblica, viewed from our hotel window
A familiar sight - even in Italian
Huge Metro building
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At 0930 we boarded our buses for a day tour of Milan, though the central city, past the "Needle and Thread" sculptures that are a tribute to the city's fashion clothing economy, then on to the racecourse (Hippodrome) to view Leonardo's Horse.

Sculpture in the centre of Milan
"The Needle & Thread" Sculpture
"The Knot" sculpture


Leonardo's Horse

To quote from the official website
"Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned 500 years ago to construct an enormous bronze horse for Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, Italy. It was to be the largest equine statue ever built, standing 24 feet high. Leonardo's full-scale clay model was destroyed by war and the bronze horse was never constructed."

The entrance to the race track - Leonardo's Horse is not easily visible behind the gates
Looking through the gates
Close-up of the head

Our tour though Milan was led by a group of young local guides who dressed in colourful attire so that we could spot them in the crowds as we walked around the sights. Our guide certainly stood out, in red coat and with large yellow sunflower.

Castello Sforzesco

From the Hippodrome we drove back past the Needle & Thread to the Castello Sforzesco. This castle was constructed in the 14th Century, but was destroyed by French Forces around 1500. It has undergone various occupations and reconstructions ever since. Part way through our walk, it began to rain and instantly the street hawkers who had been pestering us with scarves, books and souvenirs began pestering us with umbrellas. Their prices started at 10 Euros but quickly dropped to 4 or 5, and we managed to buy one later for 2 Euros.

Our Milan Guide in red
Entrance to the Castle
Part of the restored castle
Relief carvings from the castle
One of many statues
Commemorative plaque
Local Police with transport
Columnade in the Castle
within the castle courtyard
White hats were everywhere
More hats against the castle walls
The ice cream vendor did well - but 2 minutes later the rain started

Duomo and the Vittorio Emanuele Arcade

The Cathedral or Duomo in central Milan is one of the larger and more ornate in Italy. It is reputedly the world's fourth largest church. Construction began in 1387 and continued right through to the end of the 19th century, when restoration work began, concluding in 1966. During our visit in 2005, part of the main facade was covered in scaffolding.

By the time we reached the Piazza del Duomo it was raining steadily so our visit to the outside staircases and spires was cancelled. We opted instead to spend the time browsing through the shops in the Vittorio Emanuele Arcade, a Galleria full of shops and cafes. The building itself was constructed between 1865 and 1877 and is topped by a giant glass and steel curved roof and dome.

The Milan Cathedral (Duomo) in the rain
Vittoria galleria full of wet people. Note the High-arched glass roof
View of the glass dome at the intersection of the galleries

A note on umbrellas

With the rain came umbrellas - and all the umbrella sellers. The umbrellas were all made in China and appeared to all be the same, bar the colour of the fabric. They were all sprung-loaded so a push of the button opened them in a flash. All the people walking through the Galleria were carrying umbrellas and at the entrances you risked losing an eye as people rushed in with umbrellas flying. The added danger became obvious as I walked through the crowd. A young woman, immaculately dressed (as they all were) was excitedly talking on her cellphone (as many of them did), when she mistakenly pushed the button on her umbrella. Instantly it flew open, spiking people in all directions, and spiking many more as the woman wrestled with both the umbrella AND her conversation on the cellphone. Only a momentary pause in her talking enabled the umbrella to be brought under control, much to the relief of people close by!

Stazione Centrale

By the time of our return to the hotel at 1630 the rain had cleared and the warm sun had returned, so I walked through the Piazza Repubblica and up to the Stazione Centrale - the Central Railway Station. This is a large, imposing structure designed in 1912 and built by Mussolini in 1931.

Roses in front of Stazione Centrale
The reverse view - looking towards Piazza Repubblica

Dinner that evening was potato and carrot soup, fillet of salmon with steamed potatoes and green beans, fruit salad and of course vino rosso.

The Cup Final

We had not been in Milan long before we realised that The Cup Final was scheduled for the day after our departure. The final for 2005 was between Milan and Liverpool and the city was preparing itself for the big event, and of course for a win. Our Hotel was ready for the event with a live broadcast into the bar, as the brochures everywhere advertised. In case you have forgotten, Liverpool won the Cup on a penalty shootout (3-2) after the scores were 3-3 at full time.

Advertising in the bar of the Hotel Jolly>

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Last updated: 21/09/2010