Today I want to tell you about one of the most famous Italian cities, Milano. In fact, few days ago I had to go to Milano for work, but when I move, my camera comes with me. So after lunch, when I had some free time I made a little tour in the city. Milano has almost 1,5 millions of people, it’s the chief town of the Region Lombardia and it’s the main economic and financial center of Italy. There are many things to see in this city that require more than half day, but this is the time that I had.
I was close to “Porta Romana” and from there I moved toward the center trough “Corso Porta Romana”. This street ends in “Piazza Giuseppe Missore”, where there are the ruins of the ancient “Basilica of San Giovanni in Conca”. In this square, once there was a Church that was demolished during the Second World War for overriding road needs. Now remain part of the apse and the crypt. It’s pretty strange walk in the street and see these ruins among the new buildings.
From the square, along “Via Giuseppe Mazzini”, I arrived in the main square of the city, “Piazza del Duomo”. Here you are immediately attracted by the Cathedral. The church, dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity, is the largest church in Italy, if you exclude the Basilica of St. Peter that there is in the State of Vatican City.
The construction started in 1386, to replace the ancient “Basilica of Santa Tecla”, was completed in 1965, even if some details are still incomplete and there is the necessity to recover many parts of the Cathedral. As you can imagine, at this wonderful church, have worked many architects and engineers (more than 40), many of them were prominent figures like Leornardo Da Vinci, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Luigi Vanvitelli and many others.
The exterior of the Gothic church is very full of details, with various spires, the stained-glass windows, the beautiful doors, the countless statues, the gargoyles and the bright “Madonnina” (symbol of the Cathdral, this is a statue melted by the goldsmith Giuseppe Bini, it’s 4 meters high and it’s the highest point of the church). Also the interior is full of thing to see, but unfortunately I had little time and there was a long line to enter, so I couldn’t enter into the cathedral.
This square is one of the most beautiful places in the world not only for the majestic Cathedral, but also for the other buildings that compose the square, like the “Palazzo Carminati” (a fascinating palace, mostly known because once on its roof there were commercial illuminated signs) located in front of the façade of the church, and the southern and northern arcades that connect the two edges of the square.
Even if the southern arcades form a beautiful building, those most famous are the northern arcades in fact, in these there is the entrance of the “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II”. This is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls and it’s consisting of four-story double arcade. The Gallery is so named for Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengono between 1865 and 1877 (in the post NAPLES, VIA CHIAIA AND THE HIGH-CLASS NAPLES, I have mentioned to you the “Galleria Umberto I” in Naples. That wonderful work, was inspired by the galley of Milan).
The entry arch was planned like a real triumphal arch, and on the top of this arch there is the writing: “To Victor Emmanuel II. The Milanese”. The structure consists of two glass-vaulted arcades (the longest is 196 meters long) intersecting in an octagon covering the street connecting Piazza del Duomo to “Piazza della Scala”. The central octagonal space is topped with a glass dome, whose opposite sides are distant 36 meters. On the ground of the central octagonal there are four mosaics portraying the coat of arms of the three capitals of the Kingdom of Italy (Turin, Florence and Rome) plus Milan’s (according to what people says, if you spin around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from Turin coat of arms this will bring good luck). Today the gallery principally contains luxury retailers selling haute couture, jewelry, books and paintings, plus restaurants and cafès.
Close to the southern arcades there are other two important buildings: the “Palazzo dell’Arengario” and the Royal Palace of Milan. The first one consisting of two twin buildings that facing the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The facades are covered with marble of Candoglia and they have two levels of high round arches. Completed in the 50s, before the building hosted communal and provincial offices, then became the house of the “Museo del Novecento” (a museum that has about 400 works, most of the Italian from the twentieth century).
The Royal Palace of Milan was instead the seat for many centuries of the Italian city of Milan, of Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia then, and it was also royal residence until the 1919 when was bought by the State becoming home to expositions and exhibitions. Originally designed with a system of two yards, then it was partially demolished to make room for the Duomo. The façade of the building, following the line of the ancient courtyard, forms a recess with respect to Piazza del Duomo, named “Piazzetta Reale”. At the inside there is the magnificient Hall of Caryatids, the only environment that survived the heavy bombings in 1943.
To complete the Piazza del Duomo, there is the equestrian monument to Victor Emmanuel II. 15 meters high, the statue was commissioned by Umberto I, after the dead of his dad, to Ercole Rosa, who died before to complete the work. The statue, finished by others, was set in the square in 1896. The monument shows the king that is leading the soldiers in the battle of San Martino. Lower, there is another pedestal which represents the entrance of the Piedmontese troops in Milan during the Second War of Independence.
In the next post we’ll continue our tale.
Good light to everyone