Yesterday, we got just a glimpse – well, an eyeful – of the third-largest church in the world, Duomo, Milan’s awe-inspiring centuries-in-the-making Gothic cathedral.  We decided to make this our first stop for the morning of our second day in the city.  First, here are a few shots of the astounding detail and grandeur:

I won’t comment on the two ginormous display ads plastered on the back of the noble cathedral (a pricey car, and this fashion company) – presumably, a means to pay for continuing restoration (?).  Actually, yes, I will…it fell somewhere firmly between “really tacky” and “an abomination of juxtaposition.”

On the other hand, the restoration projects in this city are handled in a clever and attractive way: note the elaborate “disguise” tarp-like coverings that hide the work, as they illustrate the eventual outcome in photo-realistic black & white graphics.

Meanwhile, we quickly got in line and made it to the entrance door.   And what doors!

That is some major sculptural door work in cast bronze.

Inside was dark and cavernous, with a bit of a “land that time forgot” vibe.  Speaking of forgetting, I was chastised for not removing my hat.

Can you imagine hearing this organ, especially in context?

Fascinating in a very different way were a couple of “mummy Cardinals under glass.”  Yes, these are real preserved remains – shrunken, dried hands, ashen hair poking out of the shiny metal death mask...

Underground, there was a tiny museum room with ancient papal treasures.

For lunch, Giulia took us up to a nice restaurant on the top floor of the adjacent building, which gives one a spectacular view of the endless procession of carved parapets and such (sans product placement).

Despite my conservative Midwest upbringing, I was enthralled with the glorious excess of such an endeavor.  Quite humbling.

Next time: Milan, Day 2: Meandering Sightseeing (plus – yes, doors and dogs!)

You can also go back and begin at the start of our 2012 Italian adventure here: Another Genoese Feast, with a Side Dish of Milan