There are only three things worth seeing in Milan: That big cathedral thing in the central square, Leonardo’s painting of The Last Supper in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie and The San Siro Stadium. The rest of it is astoundingly dull. If you want classical architecture go to Rome, if you want great art go to Florence, if you want to drive like a lunatic go to Naples.
Go to Milan if you crave industrial estates, factories and hundreds of shops that sell nothing but overpriced designer fashion. If you don’t believe me then you try buying a tube of haemorrhoid cream in Milan. It’s impossible. Every shop sells nothing but clothes, shoes or fancy luggage. The long suffering Milanese population are both sore-bottomed and starving, because there’s no shops to buy food. You can’t feed a family of four on a Gucci handbag, well not at those prices anyway.
If Louis Vuitton could stick his label on something useful, like pile ointment, he’d make an even bigger fortune. He would have done out of me anyway. As you’ve probably gathered, my trip to Milan was blighted by trouser-seat troubles. So I was in a bad mood anyway.
By all means go and see the cathedral. You can’t miss it at the end of the central square. It’s big and gothic, with lots of pointy things on top. As with most cathedrals the interior is dark and gloomy. Once inside, lots of people light candles. Probably to cheer it up a bit.
You can also get hours of fun by queuing up to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper at the Convent. The best thing to do is to take a flask of tea and get there an hour before it opens. If you do this, then you might get away with just three hours of standing behind an endless line of Japanese tourists who haven’t got a clue what they’re queuing for anyway.
The reason for the slow-moving queue is that the nuns, monks, or whatever they are, only let a handful of people in at a time. This is because they are worried about too many people breathing on the painting. I don’t know why they bother, the picture has been touched-up and restored so many times it’s debatable as to whether there are any of Leonardo’s original brushstrokes left.
The requirement for this endless restoration work over the centuries was all Leonardo’s fault in the first place. Even though he was a clever-clogs with the crayons, he was a lousy technician and he could never get his surface preparation right. Hence the whole thing has slid down the wall a few times.
The fascists probably left the greatest architectural legacies in Milan. There’s the Central Station, which was built under the direction of crazy slaphead Benito Mussolini as a bit of showing-off to Hitler. Then there is the San Siro stadium, home to both AC Milan and Inter Milan football clubs. I’d timed my trip to Milan to coincide with a game, so I’d pre-ordered tickets. This was at the eye-watering sum of forty-five pounds each. When I actually turned up at the ground you could buy them for ten quid a piece. What a swiz.
A word of warning should you go to see a game in Milan. The Italians have a habit of chucking distress flares around at football matches. It’s just a bit of light-hearted hooligan fun but one of them landed next to me and totally destroyed a plastic seat in a few seconds.
They take the precaution of having a fireman on each level to put them out, but I couldn’t help thinking that the white-hot magnesium would have incinerated me long before our particular fireman had stopped scratching his own irritable piles.
A burning ring of fire in more than one way.
See my other Italian adventures by clicking here.