And here is the 3rd report. Milano and Castello Sforzesco. Milan is a big city. A really big city. And while we are in Italy, we had to see the Duomo di Milano. It is one of the most famous cathedrals in Italy. We also had a look at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. A shopping mall for the rich (and famous).
When you go around in Milan, take the subway. It is fast and quite punctual. You can get a day ticket for about 5 euro’s and you can take any line to anywhere for 1 day. It really pays off. Quite safe too. Nobody is bothering you, they all got their heads in the smartphones….
Trains and train stations.
First things first. We did our round trip in Italy by train, bus and boat. Now Milano has got, by far, the most beautiful train station of Italy. And also the most difficult one… Why ? Well because of everything. They try to operate the train station as an airport, with ticket checks, gates (?) and other funny airport-like stuff. There are only 2 toilets at the station for example, and if there are more we couldn’t find them. The signs showing from which platforms the trains will leave are so small that you need to walk about 500m left or right to read what’s on the screen. And if there is a bigger screen, it is not functioning. There are 2 gigantic screens on the station, showing commercials only instead of relevant passenger/train information. Then, when a train is leaving, the platform from were it is leaving from, pops up on the screen about 5 min before departure, because the screens are so small and cannot show a longer list of departures !
But the worst is yet to come and that is: getting good information. In Italy you have about 4 or 5 national railway operators. Then, you got all kinds of small local railway operators like TrenNord, Tilo, etc. Some operators sell their own tickets like .ITALO, others are sold by TrenItalia. And then: those ticket machines….! You can go to 2 different machines and get 2 different options and travel plans for the same route. Yes !!! And if that is not worse enough, if you in another city (we were in Parma as well) machines there, show also different info about the same route ! There is an info desk at Milan Central, but you have to get inline to get a ticket, which an old man is pulling for you, then you can get inline for the info desk to ask your question…. ! To get a logical connection to where you want to go, is going to cost you extra money. Because they put the Frecchia Highspeed trains and/or IC trains on the most driven connections and all those trains require reservation and extra surcharge. And, there is limited seating. And after that, there are only Interregio trains which take longer but don’t drive often. (about 1x per hour, if you lucky). But…. the station is beautiful, stylish… Italian 🙂
There is simply no way to get a logical connection (without using the high speed trains). If you want to go from A to B, it have to go over C and D (maybe E as well) to get to B. I can go on like this, but you get the point. 🙂 It’s tiring…. and so is the complete country. A beautiful country and great food, but chaotic and unorganised…. And you see it in everything.
Back to Milano.
So we took the underground to go to Piazza del Duomo. Great: stops right there, walk up, e voila: El Duomo. We came out straight in front of it (you got about 10 metro exits !) and it is impressive. So is the long line (about 250m) of tourists that wanna go in. We decided not to go in. 🙂 It also costs 15 euro a pop… After we did our photo shooting (which was terrible, because the bright sun comes up at the back of the Duomo) we went to check out Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. A high end shopping mall for the rich. Nice place to look at, took some photos (see below) but very expensive.
If you want to take photos of the Duomo di Milano, do it in the afternoon. You just get better light. I was there round 11 am. Terrible ! Sun on the back and side. No matter where you stand, you shoot against the light. Bring a tilt/shift lens or a wide lens and a tripod that can go high. Its all about perspective. I corrected perspective of some of my photos in Lightroom but have mixed feelings about the result.
After the hectic at the Duomo, Galleria and the train station we wanted to see something else. Back in the underground and off to Castello Sforzesco. And Wow…. 🙂 Nice ! In castle in the middle of the city.
Originally a Visconti fortress, this iconic red-brick castle was later home to the mighty Sforza dynasty, who ruled Renaissance Milan. The castle’s defences were designed by the multitalented da Vinci; Napoleon later drained the moat and removed the drawbridges. Today, it houses seven specialised museums, which gather together intriguing fragments of Milan’s cultural and civic history, including Michelangelo’s final work, the Rondanini Pietà, now housed beautifully in the frescoed hall of the castle’s Ospedale Spagnolo. Particularly impressive is the tower with the entrance Torre del Filarete, named after the Florentine architect and sculptor Antonio Averlino.
The Castle is a large place. You can take tours or do it all by yourself. The Castello Sforzesco houses a collection of small museums, which are all accessible with the same ticket and will keep you occupied for quite some time:
- Antique Furniture & Wooden Sculpture Museum
- Applied Arts Collection
- Archaeological Museum (with Egyptian and Prehistoric sections)
- Museum of Ancient Art
- Museum of Musical Instruments
- Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery)
Highlights of the collection are Michelangelo’s last sculpture, on which he was working until days before his death, la Rondanini Pietà, and the masterpieces in the Pinacoteca by Mantegna, Canaletto and Tintoretto.
There is a botanical garden in the area (we haven’t found it) but it should be somewhere in the area of the caste. The park outside the caste is huge, there is an Arena (closed when we were there). The park is worth a visit and a nice place to relax after you have walked around in the castle. If you got the time, visit the Castle and park, it is a very nice day trip.
Below some photos of Castello Sforzesco.
Now we are back at Milano FS/Milano Central to go to Florence with the Frecchia Rossa High Speed Train (300+ km/h) 🙂 See you soon at travel and photo report 4: Florence. And that is going to be a long one !
Click to view larger size.