As touristy as it is to visit the Duomo as my first event in Milan it was a great start. Located in the center of Milan, it’s one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Be prepared to have your breath taken away the minute you emerge from the underground metro station. The church’s gigantic size and Gothic architecture make for a stunning impression.
Touring the Duomo comes in four parts: the Museo del Duomo, the Battistero di San Giovanni, the interior of the church itself, and the terrance. Entrance to the church is free, but you need to buy a ticket for the others. It’s possible to buy a separate ticket for each location if you don’t have time to visit all of it in one go, but there are cheaper combo tickets that get you entrance to everything.
The Museo del Duomo is located across the street, next to the Palazzo Reale (a different museum). It displays the treasury and statues/pieces normally in or on the cathedral. While you can’t take pictures, you do get to see everything up close and personal (the only things behind glass were items from the treasury such as chalices) and the mass amount of statues and artwork is incredible.
Inside the church is the entrance to the Battistero di San Giovanni, the remains of two important figures, plus more. While the exterior of the Duomo is striking in its majesty and size, the interior is intense in an entirely different way. Towering columns and dark lighting filtering through stained glass gives it a more commanding and imposing feel. Just a note: parts of the church is closed to tourists as it’s, well, a church. Unless you wish to participate in services you can only see the front sections, but if you’re lucky (like me!) you might get a chance to see some very cool moments and get treated to a song on the organ.
My favorite part by far, however, was the terrace of the Duomo. The view from above is breathtaking and if you only go to one place at the Duomo you should go to the roof. Wandering around the roof you can get close up to the stained glass windows and statues. Parts of the roof may be blocked off for restoration, but meander around and explore to find some great views. Be sure to peak down between the many spires too as you’ll get an awesome view of the Piazza del Duomo below and the surrounding shopping centers.
Milan’s Duomo is really astounding and the sheer amount of work put into is incredible. Commissioned in 1386, it wasn’t truly completed until 1965. All the spires and delicately carved statues make this building a work of art and not just a church. Wandering around and seeing the amount of work up close, you really begin to appreciate the massive amount of time and labor that was put into the Duomo.
Food Footnote! Because you can’t visit Italy without stumbling upon something delicious.
To wrap up my trip at the Duomo, I squeezed my way into a back ally for panzerotti. These delicious calzone like sandwiches are combinations of meats, cheeses, and veggies folded and sealed up inside deliciously soft dough. Traditionally fried and savory, Luini (located between McDonald’s and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II and behind the department store La Rinascente) makes panzerotti that are filled with ingredients like prosciutto, mozzarella, or seafood. They also make baked versions and sweet versions for those who want a healthier or sugary snack after walking around. For only 2.70 euros, it’s definitely worth navigating through ally ways to find.