The weekend in Milan was all about the race, the expo and bonding with my teammates. Though site seeing beyond what I’d see along the course was not a priority, I’m glad one of the group bonding activities was a city tour, since the race course turned out to the scenically challenged.
The Veditalia tour was only about 3 hours long, giving us just a taste of what Milan has to offer, but enough to feel as though we saw more than the start and finish line.
We started at the Duomo, which is the world’s third largest, after St. Peter’s in Rome and the Cathedral of Seville. Though it took more than 500 years to build the cathedral, the Milanese don’t think it’s complete and are constantly rebuilding and renovating.
I’m going to just admit that after seeing so many cathedrals and basilicas they start to kinda blend together in my mind. The stain glass windows and elaborate alters are all beautiful, but pretty much the same. However, the Duomo has one of the most unique characteristics I’ve ever seen in a church: a solar meridian line. The meridian is at the entrance to the cathedral and has the signs of the zodiac marked at the appropriate spots. Signs of the zodiac in a church? One of the stranger bedfellows if I’ve ever seen, but something that will set the Duomo apart in my mind from other houses of worship.
It’s possible to climb the tower of the Duomo to get panoramic views of Milan, but deciding that we didn’t want to exhaust our legs before the race or get drenched since it was raining, we skipped it. Instead, we decided to stay dry in the stylishly covered Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Made of iron and glass, the covered gallery was built between 1865 and 1877 to connect the Il Duomo and La Scala piazzas. The gallery was also meant to represent the union of the church and state, but with Prada, Louis Vuitton and other high end shops taking up residence here, it looks like consumerism is pretty well represented as well.
Also in the galleria is the Campari cafe, home of Campari liqueur. When Gaspere Campari opened his cafe, it was frequented by the chic and elite, including King Vittorio Emanuele himself. I, of course, couldn’t pass up the chance to stop in, since I
am like to pretend that I am chic and elite.
Next, our wonderful guide Marta, full of historical facts and anecdotes, led us to Castello Sforzesco. Located in Parco Semplone, the 14th century castle was partially reconstructed suffering severe damage during World War II. A magnificent fountain, known as the wedding cake, sits in front of the castle and makes for the perfect photo backdrop.
But not nearly as perfect as the marathon finish line, which was being erected. How appropriate that our tour and our race end in the same place.
Disclosure: Veditalia provided Team MoTravels with a walking tour of Milan.