After our overnight flight, we arrived not particularly well rested at the Milan Malpensa Airport around 9 am. Running on solely adrenaline, we caught the first train into Milan!
Our first stop of the day was at the medieval Sforzesco Castle. Built in 1360s, the castle changed hands many times throughout its long history being occupied both by the French as well as the Spanish. Currently the castle houses multiple art museums but as we were pressed for time we only explored the grounds. My personal favorites were the tall beautiful windows we found to take pictures in!
After we explored the interior of the fortress we meandered through the extensive gardens known as Sempione Park behind it. On the opposite end of the park we found the Arc della Pace or Arch of Peace. Construction for the Arc della Pace began in 1807 under Napoleon’s rule to be named the Arc de Triomphe. After the fall of Napoleon the project was abandoned until it was later renamed the Arc della Pace and completed in 1838.
On our walk towards the Duomo di Milano, we stopped for lunch and some window shopping on the pedestrian street Via Dante. For our first meal in Italy (as with most all our meals in Italy) we opted for pizza and pasta!
The rest of our day we spent in and around the Duomo di Milano. In Italian, duomo means cathedral so most cities we visited had a duomo. There were so many places related to the Duomo that we bought a pass which gave us access to many different areas on the Piazza del Duomo. Our first stop was at the Duomo Museum to see relics from the building of the Duomo including clay models of the statues on the exterior and a large wooden model of the Duomo itself!
After checking into our AirBnb and a quick refresh, we headed back out to see the interior of the Duomo. Shoulders and knees have to be covered or else you get to wear very attractive kimonos as seen below. There was a mass underway as we walked around to see the beautiful interior. Our pass also got us underneath the cathedral to an archelogical site. The cathedral was built over top many older buildings including a baptistry, burial grounds and an older church called Santa Tecla. You could see what was left from the pattern on the floor of the ruins plus artifacts found in those areas.
My absolute favorite part of our day in Milan was climbing to the rooftop of the Duomo di Milano. In hindsight, after climbing the 170 steps to the top, it may have been worth the additional 2 euros to take the lift but the views might not have been quite as sweet! There were two levels to explore and the floor was all marble so shoes with traction would have been much better than the flip flops I had on! We were on the rooftops right before closing so the crowds were not as thick as they looked during the day.
As a reward for our exercise we had what would be the first of many gelato treats on our trip through Italy. We devoured our snack on the Piazza del Duomo before heading to our AirBnb to rest up before the next leg of our journey to Montecatini!