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Il Duomo di Milano

Written on: Sunday December 28th, 2008

A journal entry from: Nuovo Anno

Today is our first real day in Italy.  Sure, we landed at 9:30 yesterday morning, but with the bus ride into town, the adventure of figuring out the tram/trolley system and being just a tad jet-lagged, it wasn't really a useable day.  But today is much different.

Today is Sunday.  Yesterday the shops all looked closed up and generally the town felt empty.  There was a lot more foot traffic than even the busiest days in Atlanta but there wasn't anything really going on.  Some of that is due to the fact that many shops are closed during the break between Christmas and New Year's Day.  Today, however, is an entirely different story.

After a continental breakfast (actually on The Continent, as it were) we headed out to the Duomo di Milano.  Called the Duomo, it's an 15th century gothic cathedral, complete with flying buttresses.  Duomo just means "cathedral" from what I can tell but this one is special.  First, it's huge.  The scale of this building is unlike anything I've seen in the United States.  Second, it's old.  Really, really old.  More than twice as old as the country I call home.  Apparently they had no trouble building things to last forever because not only is it open to visitors, you can even climb up a narrow old stone stairway and walk around on the roof!  The piazza below was packed with sightseers, tourists from all over the globe and locals doing some Sunday shopping.  Everything in Milano seems to be old and big.  Even the street malls are built into enormous old stone buildings.  The floors are inlaid stone and the ceiling is a glass dome six stories up.  The main avenues of the mall seem to be old alleyways and the ceiling was installed to turn the entire block into a single building.  This isn't unique either.  Several of the buildings we've been through for one reason or another (including the Stazione Centrale, Central Station) are build in this manner.  Beautiful, archaic, majestic, ancient.  Sturdy.

Meals in Italy start with wine.  The very first choice you get to make as you sit down in a ristorante is "Red or White?"  The pizze here is good (they should know; they invented it) and you can get it everywhere.  After the meal you get caffe (which means "coffee" but really means "espresso") and possibly a desert.  Just be careful you don't order a latte as that just means a glass of plain steamed milk.  Try a caffe latte instead.

Outside the hotel window we can hear the street cars pass by every few minutes.  Some of the trolleys are old wooden and brass carriages that look like they belong to a time long gone by.  Others are sleek, ultra-modern trains that look like they'd be more at home on a full-sized rail road.  While there are numerous cars lying about, most of the traffic is in one of the omni-present trollies or on a motorcycle or scooter of some kind.  When I say the cars are "lying about" it's true; parking is seemingly entirely at the driver's discretion with few markings.  It looks like a child left his toys all over town, parked at odd angles and wedged into impossibly tight spaces. 


From Ambler on Dec 30th, 2008

Wow...Ok, I gotta add Italy to my Bucket list. The architecture is amazing!!! I love all the stonework and especially the suspended stairway. By the way, did you shave your beard?