We woke early to head into Milan as the weather forecast was threatening. It looked like the best window was going to be in the morning, so we were off for downtown before 8:30.
I expected Milan to be a more elegant city than it turned out to be, based on it being the fashion capital of the world with names like Gucci, Versace, Louis Vuitton and Prada located here. I envisioned it to be a Miami or Los Angeles. Instead it felt more like Pittsburg or Detroit, more industrial than elegant.
Our camp site is in a working class neighborhood at the end of a tram line which is convenient for getting downtown. We take public transport in most of the cities so we get to see the less glamorous parts of town. It gives a view of life away from the tourist centers, and a chance to watch people interacting in a normal environment, which we enjoy. Milan is a more diverse city than any we have seen in Italy. It definitely has the largest Asian population we have seen which seems to be mostly Pilipinos. We had been commenting on the lack of Kebab shops in Italy compared to the other countries we have visited, but Milan had plenty of Kebab shops.
Downtown Milan did have some of the elegance we were looking for with all of the big name fashion designers having stores in the Galleria off of the main square. Right after we arrived downtown it started raining and the Galleria is covered so we headed there to get out of the rain. We walked around looking at all of the fancy stores and enjoying the Galleria. I believe it is the inspiration for all of the malls that dot the US, but on a scale that no developer is going to pay for.
Between showers we would dash out of the Galleria and head towards the Cathedral which is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world. It was built over 600 years so it passed thru a lot of design styles. It is know for the hundreds of statues on the exterior and the interior.
We decided to pay the small entrance fee to visit the interior as there was no line. We were both impressed with one particular statue of St. Bartholomew. The statue is in great detail and you can see his bones, muscles, and veins. We did not realize this was because he was flayed alive. What we thought was a robe wrapped around him is actually his skin!
We had been remarking on Italy being the first country we had visited in Europe that did not have several Starbucks in every major city. Ton looked it up and there is only one Starbucks in Italy and it is also the largest Starbucks in the world (until next week when a larger one will open in Chicago). We decided to visit it as it roasts its own coffee that Starbucks calls a “Reserve Roast”. They also feature many different ways of brewing coffee. We expected to have a quick coffee and head out, but ended up in there for well over an hour and enjoying two coffee’s each.