The one that follows is one of the best way to reach Piazza Duomo: climb the stairs of the yellow subway, the ones with the sign “Duomo”, and see, step after step, the cathedral appearing with all its grandeur. After having reached the top of the stairs, you’ll have to slalom among pigeons ready to peck you wildly and tourists using their iPads as cameras. Overcome these initial obstacles and try to carve out a small square of space in order to be able to enjoy the panorama quietly.
You will find as many pieces of information about the Cathedral as you wish online or on a printed guide. We, therefore, are simply going to say that the Duomo has five centuries of history on its back: officially founded in 1386 with the agreement between Gian Galeazzo Visconti and the Bishop Antonio da Saluzzo (resulting in the construction of the Venerable Cathedral Factory) and was completed only in 1805 with Napoleon. To give you an idea of its grandeur, we are going to provide you with some numerical details: the Duomo is 158 meters long, 66 wide and has a capacity of 40,000 people; its highest spire, the one with the Madonnina, the ultimate symbol of Milan, is 108 meters high; there are 164 windows, 3,400 sculptures, 135 spires and 52 pillars tall 24 meters and with a diameter of 3.5 meters. Everything is made in the precious Candoglia marble, famous for its pink and green hues.
Over the years, the cathedral was renovated countless times, leading to many complaints by the Milanese, tired of seeing its facade covered by billboards. You should visit the terraces but, beware, it is not for free and, even if you take the elevator, you’ll have to climb a few steps.
In front of the Duomo, you can see the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II on his horseback, manufactured in the Fonderia Napoleonica and commemorating the Battle of San Martino that marked Italy’s victory over the Austrians. The pink building you see just behind the statue is the Carminati Palace, made famous by Cynar commercials. Many aged men still remember with nostalgia those days when the square was lit by neon signs: a hard-working Kores typist beating tirelessly on her machine, the word “drink coca-cola”, a little Brill man shining some shoes… now these lights are gone, but the square is still extremely suggestive.
Duomo, Milano, MI, Italia