We got up and headed into town to properly explore the Milan Cathedral, starting with the roof. Thankfully, it has an elevator that takes you to the lower roof. You still need to do a bit of climbing to make it to the very top.
This building is amazing. There are literally thousands of small statues, detailed patterning on the spires and carvings into every possible place on the roof of this cathedral. I could literally have spent all day up there studying the carvings and the statuary. The amount of work that must have been put into this place is phenomenal.
As equally impressive, is the interior of the Cathedral. The geek inside me fancied that it was the work of mountain dwarves, with it's stout columns and dark halls and I half expected to find a statue of Thorin Oakenshield towering above the back of the cathedral.
Almost the entirety of the back of the cathedral is covered with the most enormous and complex stain glassed panels I have ever seen. One of the artistic highlights is a statue of St Bartholomew, with his skin flayed off his body! Noice!
The Last Supper
After our visit to the Catherdral, we made our way to the meeting point for our walking tour to see Da Vinci's The Last Supper and Sforza Castle, the home of the medieval Dukes of Milan. We walked through some of the more affluent streets of Milan to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to The Last Supper.
There are a of of times you hear people talk about art and say 'you really have to see it in person to appreciate it'. The Last Supper transcends that. To see the entire nine metre wall of what, at the time, was the dining hall of the church, illuminated with Da Vinci's genius, is an almost spiritual experience. It is simply the most beautiful piece of art I have ever beheld and when you hear how it has survived the ravages of time and men, it is almost miraculous to be able to see it today. It made this cynical writer quite emotional and is an experience I will not soon forget.
We also took in the surrounds and interior of the church, with it's dramatic mix of gothic and renaissance architecture and its beautiful cloistered gardens.
From there we walked to Sforza Castle. This impressive building has seen a tumultuous history and only certain sections of the castle are the original buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries.
During our walking tour, we were surprised to see a huge amount of police out on the streets. Our guide informed us that there was some kind of protest planned for the late afternoon. After the castle and on the way home we walked back to the Piazza del Duomo to discover it crammed with people and the Duomo subway station closed! The protest was by Lega Nord, a right wing political party, heavily supported in the north of Italy, with a very strong regionalist and anti-immigration policy. There are some in the more moderate areas of Italy that call them the 'Northern Nazis'. We had to walk through some enormous crowds, as we made our way to the next train station along the line and it was all a bit frightening for the kids, in particular.
We made it to the next station and home to our hotel, safe and sound and hit the hay early for our early morning start into Switzerland.