September 18th, 2008 – by: Stevie_Wes
3 of the many many spires of the Duomo, Milan.
Okay, okay, one whole day in the city of the fashionistas. Edwina my Australian pal shoomed outta town on an early-doors train to Munich this morning her hands out at the ready to grab her first yard of ale at the Oktober Fest so I’m back to bein’ a lonesome traveller today although the vibrancy of life at the Milan HI means there are always friendly people to launch into conversations with, Shintako and Seb(astian) being my breakfast buds for the day. Seb describes the hostel as nothing more than a “sleeping factory” which whilst quite apt (i.e. it’s nothing more than a large, over-crowded space with ‘beds’ to crash on) I’m not sure how much sleep gets manufactured in this “factory”. Some guy last night in our room (of 8) snored SO f**king loudly and rhythmically (like a metronome devised by Beelzebub himself to keep time for all of Hell’s eternity) that few of the rest of us slept soundly at all.
This morning I clean the dark brown chocolate splodge stains from off my Gore-tex trainer tops with my toothbrush… and then proceed to brush my teeth with said brush. Minty-choco yumminess people! ;) Uhhh?… was that a wrong thing to do? Or am I already becoming a hard-bitten (and foolhardy) resourceful trekker? Hmmm? … yeah, I’m still on the same toothbrush at the time of writing (06/10/08). Oh well :)
I’m not so sure (or fussed) what to do with my time in Milan if I’m honest.
Uhhh? Let’s go back to the Duomo in morning light ‘cos that is a FAB piece of architecture. The pigeons (and the seed scammers) are wide awake and in business already and the Duomo impresses no less for a second sighting. This time though the real deal! 5 Euros will allow you to ascend a good number of steps onto the marbled eaves and terrace that run around the most part of the cathedral’s roof circumference. This is a FANTASTIC thing to do. For lovers of architecture this is a real, real treat. A chance to literally immerse yourself in this spectacularly complex, statuary-swamped and gothic ally beautiful building. There are 135 spires (!!!) and 3,200 statues (?!?) upon the exterior of the Duomo. Plenty to keep the eyes busy!
Some wirdo on top of the Duomo :)
You can stroll around ducking through marbled, carved archways along the eaves the statues watching you as you go.
Some pretty cool vantage points for viewing the city of Milan up here of course, snapshots to be glimpsed through the labyrnth of which columns and arches that seem almost to grow together and around each other like a forest up here. The Duomo, centuries old, feels a very alive, organic, growing piece of architecture. Some further steps will also see right up onto the apex of the cathedral’s roof. A large, lengthy courtyard in the sky almost. The sun is blazing hot today and people are even just chilling up here, catching their breath and sunbathing on the large white marble slabs that construct the roofing. Great stuff!
The Castello Sforzesco.
I head back down and walk with not too much intent further out into the City.
There’s the former fortification structure of the Castello Sforzesco. Umm, looks interesting. Couldn’t be bothered to pay to walk around it, but that is something you can do. Urrrr?… really can’t remember so much of Milan, but enough to know that really it’s not a city that knocks me out whilst I’m there. It’s large, but not so much in an interesting way without lots to see or do... or maybe (aside from the Duomo) I just missed ‘em? I dunno. Not one of my faves so far but pleasant enough in the fine weather.
Inside the Castello Sforzesco courtyard.
Having been overwhelmed by the magnificence of the Duomo I’m in a bit of an architecture trance so I shift gears and head to the Pinacoteca di Brera, the art gallery attached to the Milan art academy.
Both of these were established by Marie Theresa (the matriarchal head of the Austrian Hapsburgs) and the Pinacoteca contains a sprawling collection of almost exclusively religious-theme paintings and alter pieces from various centuries. It really is a fantastic collection of works. They are though almost ALL of religious content so if this ain’t your thing (personally I dig it most of the time) then you may not get much out of this. My first time in front of an El Greco. "Cool!"
16 foot golden Buddha sculpture by Shinjo Ito.
Aside from all that I just do my usual ambling around streets with little plan in mind, popping my head into an exhibition or two here or there. A good way to get the feel of the spirit and geography of a city I think.
I head back to the HI, step in a dog turd on the lawn that approaches it (how apt for the place... and no, I do not clean it off with my toothbrush!) and get them to book me ahead to the Verona and Venice Youth Hostel Internationals so that my adventure is set for the coming days. A tiny pang of wanting to have someone “along for the ride” for the next phase of the journey is pinching my soul tonight although I am rarely the type of individual to be found craving company (probably for the best on a long journey like this). However, probably as a result of having had the pleasure of Edwina’s company yesterday this evening I feel a tad in need of someone to bounce thoughts and stories off etc… there will be many more friendly souls along the way of course… AND people who frickin’ snore for a living!! >:(
Avante garde, almost Dali-esque piece of public art before a church.
… yeah, we’re all awake again (except the culprit) at some ungodly hour in the dank bowels of the “sleep factory” and it almost comes to drawing straws to see as to which one of us is tasked with smothering the life out of the offender with a spare pillow.
It's a good plan. Released from the coporeal carcass that enables him to compose such nightmarish nocturnal rhapsodies, the snorer’s soul will then descend deservedly to Hell, where warm and snug by the purgatorial fires of eternal suffering, lying upon a bed (of nails) he must try to get to sleep whilst being forced to listen to Beelzebub’s metronome (the forever repeating sound of rusty chainsaws cutting through screams and hand grenades) for all eternity.