Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Italy - Milan (2006)

Day 6 : 5th May 2006

The distance from Verona to Milan is more than 170km. As we left at 2pm, we reached Milan city border 2 hours later. We had a late and quick lunch stop at the highway rest & service area to save time.

The itinerary for our short Milan City Tour were as follows:
  • Walking tour of Milan to admire the interior of the magnificent Duomo, among the largest cathedrals in the world;
  • View the La Scala Opera House and marvel at the architecture inside the glass-domed Victor Emmanuelle II Galleria; and
  • Milan Shopping - Have ample time to experience the famous Via Montenapoleone and its adjourning streets, which house all the top designer brands.

First and foremost, I chose to explore the magnificent Milan Cathedral or called Duomo in Italian. It was constructed in 1386 but this Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the 5th largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italian state territory.

Fine arts of Duomo window with crafted glass beautifully viewed from inside

The cathedral was built as a dedication to Saint Mary Nascent is at present the seat of the Archbishop of Milan. The construction was commissioned in 1386 by Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo. 3 buildings were demolished for the works to take place; i.e. the palace of the Archbishop, the Ordinari Palace and the Baptistery of St. Stephen at the Spring, while the old church of Sta. Maria Maggiore was exploited as a stone quarry. A large sum was collected from donations to allow the work to progress. It was initially planned to build the cathedral from brick in Lombard Gothic style.

The cathedral however did not fully completed due to upgrading and refurbishment in the next centuries to come involving 77 architects and engineers throughout the process, from 1387 till 1988. On May 20, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, about to be crowned King of Italy has ordered the facade to be finished by Carlo Pellicani. As a form of thanksgiving, a statue of Napoleon was placed at the top of one of the spires. Napoleon was crowned King of Italy at the Duomo.

In the following years, most of the missing arches and spires were constructed. The statues on the southern wall were also finished, while in 1829-1858, new stained glass windows has replaced the old ones, though with less aesthetically significant results. The last details of the cathedral were finished only in the 20th century (nearly 600 years). The last gate was inaugurated on January 6, 1965. This date is considered the very end of a process which had proceeded for generations, although even now, some uncarved blocks remain to be completed as statues. The Duomo's main facade went under renovation from 2003 to early 2009. As of February 2009, it has been completely uncovered, showing again the colours of the Candoglia marble.

The Duomo facade was under renovation works the year I visited, but the inside cathedral was really impressive to see. It was the glass arts, sculpture and painting inside the cathedral that made you appreciate the Duomo more from inside. It's beauty is far from your imagination.

Anyway, Milan is the capital city of Lombardy and the second largest city in Italy. It has over 1.35 million population. Milan was founded by a Celtic people, later was conquered by the Romans, becoming the capital of the Western Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, Milan flourished as a commercial and banking center and eventually annexed by the new Kingdom of Italy.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world's oldest shopping mall.

During the early 1900s, Milan in 1859, led the industrialization process of the young nation, being at the very center of the economic, social and political debate. Badly affected by the World War II devastation, and after a short Nazi occupation, the city became the main centre of the Italian Resistance. In post-war years, the city enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, attracting large flows of immigrants from rural Southern Italy. During the last decades, Milan has seen a dramatic rise in the number of international migrants, and today more than 1/6 of its population is foreign born.

My faith was tempted/ruined inside the world oldest mall, LV and Prada were my early collections :( 

Milan is the main industrial, commercial and financial centre of Italy and a leading global city. The city is a major world fashion and design capital. Thanks to its important museums, theatres and landmarks (including the Milan Cathedral and Santa Maria delle Grazie, decorated with Leonardo da Vinci paintings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Milan attracts more than 2 million annual visitors.

After an educational visit inside the Duomo, I entered the world oldest mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the world's oldest shopping mall. It housed within a 4 storey double arcade in central Milan. The Galleria is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877. I passed by the entrance door, window shopping (rather passing by) and went ahead to the back door to the La Scala Opera House. Took few snapped of the opera house and found the statue of Leonardi Da Vincci and his student. Years later, I had read a full biography of Leonardo and very sad to learn that this learned and wise man that I adore so much was a gay. 

When I returned back to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, I found myself alone and I entered Prada boutique, alone. I came out from Prada with a shocking pink purse before I entered LV boutique, again alone. I went out from LV boutique with the devil face turning into shopaholic and handbags maniac until end 2012 now (now under serious therapy, mentally). By 5.30pm, we left Milan town to Lake Como. Though the distance is merely 85km but the journey takes longer due to a winding road by a hilly mountain nearing Switzerland mountaineers borderline. We reached Lake Como very late and could not appreciate anything due to a long tiring days. We had a deep sounded sleep that night.

The beginning of the craze and the crave over branded handbags, God save me!

For the record, we did not spent any night in Milan city as our last 2 nights in Italy was at the romantic Lake Como, a small hilly town of Lombardy.
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