Northern Italy Road Trip Part IIAuthor: Jim and Donna C. (More Trip Reviews by Jim and Donna C.)
Date of Trip: October 2010
Return to Northern Italy Road Trip Part I
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 -- Overcast, cool -- light fog
We both woke up near 0800; guess we were tired. It's overcast with light fog. Not sure what the weather is going to do this morning. We went downstairs and enjoyed breakfast. There were the usual pastries, yogurt, cereals and then hot eggs, sausage and bacon. It was nice to have a hot breakfast for a change.
We decided to stay at the Holiday Inn another night so that we wouldn't find ourselves in the same hotel-seeking situation as last night. We can also take our time seeing Milan. The desk clerk didn't like the idea of us driving into Milan. He said that the parking was terrible. He offered that we take the hotel shuttle to the airport and take the city bus (an express) into town. So, that's what we did.
We got off the bus, checked Rick Steve's book to see what direction we should go to see the Duomo Cathedral and off we headed through the shopping mall area. This cathedral is supposed to have one of the nails from Jesus' cross. It is also supposed to have hair, fingernails and bone fragments from each of the apostles. Sounds kind of cool to check out.
We turned the corner and there stood the cathedral. It is magnificent! Of all the cathedrals in all the countries we've been in, this is the most ornate one I've ever seen. We walked around it and took lots and lots of pictures. Scaffolding covers much of the top steeple. It's being cleaned. We then went inside, got a couple of audio tour things and set off following the map of the audio tour. It is pretty awesome inside.
One wall has a small opening where the sun shines down on the floor to tell what time of the year it is...an indoor sundial. There is a red dot behind the alter and near the ceiling. This is the supposed to contain the nail from the cross, encased in a crystal.
The treasury is where the apostle pieces are located. Unfortunately it was closed for renovation. We did see a statue of St. Bartholomew. He was another apostle that was killed for his beliefs. Apparently he was flayed, i.e. skinned. The statue is of him carrying his skin like a shawl - very gruesome.
We then took an elevator up to the roof of the cathedral. We got out and were right on the roof shingles. We were able to walk around the top, where there are several terraces. We had a great view of the city from up there. We took a stroll among the gargoyles and went up to the large stained glass windows and looked down onto the cathedral floor several stories below. What a kick!
After the cathedral we sat down at one of the cafes for a cappuccino. We decided to try Panini for lunch. Basically it's just a sandwich. We then walked through town to the Sforza Castle. We've been seeing castles all over Italy, which surprised me. This castle is HUGE. We walked around inside the courtyards. Not much here. They have brought in some architectural pieces found around the city. Milan, at one time, had a wall around it.
The Sforza Castle was the main entrance into the city. It's quite a fortress. There was a museum within a part of the castle. It held an uncompleted statue by Michelangelo, the Rondanini Pieta. We wanted to see that, so we paid our three Euros each and went in. The museum kept going and going. It was much larger than we thought. At the end was the Michelangelo statue. It was really cool. The legs looked completed, the torsos chiseled out and the backs just rough cut.
The painting of the Last Supper is in Milan. However, you need to make reservations to tour it months in advance. We didn't know that, so we didn't get to see it. The Cathedral and the Castle took all day for us.
We headed back towards the cathedral, tried to find the shopping area we came through. Found the Galleria, which is a glass domed covered shopping “mall” that was way cool. In the center you could stand and see Louie Viton on one corner and McDonalds on the other - something wrong with this picture. We got lost trying to find the bus stop. It couldn't be too far away; it was near the cathedral and another church. How many cathedrals and churches can there be in Milan / Italy?.
We finally asked a policeman, and kept walking. Jim found an electronics store where we stopped and bought an external hard drive. We've only been on our trip for a week and have about 1000 pictures between the two of us...four more weeks to go. Now we can download our pictures to our net book and then back them up to an external hard drive. Jim is such a geek!
We eventually found the bus stop. The bus was sitting there and we hopped on. We got to the airport around 1900. Trying to think of what to do for dinner. Eating at the hotel was going to be too expensive. Jim suggested driving around trying to find a restaurant, but it isn't like doing that around home. Seemed too hard. So we ate at McDonalds in the airport.
Jim called the hotel and they sent the shuttle to pick us up. We're in early tonight so we can get caught up on the log, check out the Internet and get ready for bed early. We'd like to have an early start tomorrow morning.
Thursday, October 14, 2010 -- light fog, cool
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