Milan: Food, Fashion and Fine Art
Trip Start May 26, 2011
33Trip End Jul 19, 2011
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From the airport, we found a train to take in to the city center of Milan. It let us off at the Central train station and the hotel I booked was only a three minute walk from there. BONUS! It was also located just around the corner from another McDonald's so we would never be too far from a burger and a Coca Cola Light. Honestly, it's not that McDonald's has the best food in the world (in our opinion anyway) but there is something comforting and even homey to see those Golden Arches and know you can get a little taste of home when you want it.
Over the next 3.5 days, we walked all over seeing all the major sights. Milan is Italy's second largest city (after Rome) and is the business and banking capital of Italy. It has a population of about 1.3 million people but when you count the sprawling suburbs the estimated population is one of Europe's largest with over seven million people.
The city was founded by a Celtic tribe around 400 BC which was later captured by the Romans in 222 BC and much later was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 286 until 402 AD. Milan became one of the most prosperous Italian cities during the Middle Ages. In 1796, Milan was conquered by the French troops of Napoleon who made it the capital of the puppet state of the Kingdom of Italy. Finally, in 1859 the city was unified with the Kingdom of Sardinia and later became the true Kingdom of Italy. During World War II, the city was badly affected by Allied bombings. Despite this, Milan saw large post-war economic growth attracting thousands of immigrants from Southern Italy and abroad. The city remains one of Europe's main transportation and industrial hubs. It is also apparently the world's 11th most expensive city to live in.
Being a large, business city I wasn't sure what to expect. Even though very metropolitan, it still had some incredible sights to see. One was a castle from the 14th century called the Castello Sforzesco that now houses many of Milan's important museum collections.
Another breath taking site is the Milan Cathedral better known as the Duomo of Milan. It was started in the 1300's with the front facade finally completed in 1805 so it could be used by Napoleon for his crowning as "King of Italy." The Cathederal's last details were completed in the 20th century and work was done up until 1965 - almost 700 years.
Last, but certainly not least, we had many months ago booked a walking tour of the city and the last amazing stop of the tour was at the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church. It is where, in the dining hall of the attached monastery, Leonardo Da Vinci painted the famous "The Last Supper." Seeing it is, without doubt, one of those moments I will always remember. We've all seen pictures of it, but as you walk into this large, very simple monastery dining hall, it takes your breath away. Because of the deteriorating condition of the piece, they only allow 30 people at a time to view it for 15 minutes.
We put many miles on our shoes in Milan as we walked through several parks, the old town shopping areas and just wandered through the streets. We found this great restaurant called "Little Italy" not far from the hotel and ate there a couple of times and of course I found my way to the gelato shops a few too many times.
Tomorrow we head back to the train station to leave Milan by rail on a two hour ride to Florence.
Lots of pictures below!
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