MILAN, ITALY

MILAN, ITALY
When one hears the name Milan, two words spring to mind: La Scala, and Il Duomo. The celebrated opera, and the huge cathedral. Santa Maria Delle Grazie, besides being one of the most beautiful churches on earth, is home to The Last Supper, the famous fresco by Leonardo Da Vinci. Milan is also known as the capital of fashion, the place where one can find many very expensive shops and restaurants. It is easy to get to Verona, Venice, Torino and many other places of interest in Italy and in Europe.
During the Christmas season, the square and the streets around Il Duomo house the large market with foods, goods and souvenirs. It is always teeming with people. On January 6, which is the national holiday, large crowds with children assemble in the square in front of the cathedral to watch the Epiphany carnival. Imagine hundreds of children screaming, “Mamma! Maaaagi!” It is easy to walk along the streets even in the winter rain, as many buildings have covered porticos and arcades. The central post office looks like a palazzo, and the university complex is as beautiful as a basilica. The mayor’s building gave its central hall to the exhibition of Rafael’s Madonna di Faligno, on loan from the Vatican Museums. Long lines of spectators patiently waited outside, right opposite La Scala, to come in and enjoy the immortal masterpiece. The World of Leonardo is another exhibition worth visiting, with lots of exhibits constructed according to the Master’s drawings; 3D screens allow any visitor to play with any of the machines shown. A separate chamber is dedicated to The Last Supper, its history and its never-ending restoration.
Hotel Canada, which is just a short walk away from Il Duomo and the Galleria, is a good place to stay. In addition to the usual facilities, they offer a free computer and printer in the lobby, so that visitors can register online and print out their boarding passes if needed. In the afternoon, a small table with snacks is placed in the lobby, for free. Next door to the hotel is Carrefour, a large supermarket open daily. Eating out is a bit of a problem, since many cafes and restaurants are closed from about 2 to 7 P.M. However, as the university is so close, there is a great pizzeria/grilleria nearby on the corner of Larga Street which is open at all hours. The restaurants in the Galleria near the cathedral are understandably expensive. However, if one goes to the seventh floor of Rinoscento store, one can find several nice bars and cafes plus an observation terrace. It is good to sit outside on a sofa, with cushions and warm plaids, and to enjoy an excellent lunch while looking at the cathedral.
Castello, the Castle, is another place to see. It is about fifteen minutes walk away from the hotel. It is huge, and one can only marvel at how they managed to build such a huge structure five hundred years ago.
Milan is one of the places where one always feels in the thick of life. It is a great place to visit in any season.
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