Looking down on Milan
If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the city of Milan in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Milan is definitely less tourist infested than many other Italian cites. It is Italy’s world-class fashion capital. Other Lombardy destinations are described in companion articles in this series.
Over the millennia Lombardy has been invaded by many including the Etruscans, Gauls, Romans, French, Spaniards, and the Lombards. Keep the region’s history in mind as you tour this impressive city.
We start at the Gothic Duomo (Cathedral) built from 1386 to 1809. With an estimated capacity of forty thousand it is Italy’s largest church after St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. The Duomo’s architecture and art are worthy of an extended visit. Let’s quote Mark Twain in his famous travelogue Innocents Abroad: “…They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter's at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.”
Next door is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an enormous Nineteenth Century upscale shopping mall named for the first king of united Italy. The Galleria is one great place for shopping and people watching, but bargains are to be found elsewhere.
La Scala Opera House is another cathedral. Its season runs for about six months, and with only 2800 seats you have to scramble for a ticket. La Scala’s beauty is matched only by its magnificent acoustics. The performances are top of the line. And make sure to visit the Museo Teatrale alla Scala.
See the Fifteenth Century Saint Mary of the Graces Church and its refectory which houses a recently restored da Vinci masterpiece, Il Cenacolo, better known by its English-language name, The Last Supper. You must reserve well in advance to catch a fifteen-minute glimpse. Make sure to visit the Municipal Natural History Museum with its adjoining planetarium and Public Gardens offering pony rides, merry-go-round, and miniature train.
Of Italy’s twenty regions Lombardy trails only Emilia-Romagna in food production. Much of its food originated abroad, for example, the Spanish brought saffron and rice, two major components of Milan’s saffron risotto. See our companion article I Love Touring Italy – Milan for a sample menu and more information on Lombardy wines plus an in-depth examination of Milan’s tourist attractions. Lombardy produces the sparkling Franciacorta, said to compete with French Champagne and priced accordingly. I recently shared a bottle of rosé Franciacorta with my wine tasting group – we were quite disappointed.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.Click to access the original, longer article on this Italian tourist location.
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