The day my knees crumbled

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Praskipark on June 10, 2013

Having had a good walk around the outside of the Duomo in Milan, I suddenly had a mad urge to walk up the steps to the roof of the cathedral. I am not very good with heights but really wanted to take this opportunity to see if I could see the Alps like so many guide books say you can. My husband didn’t accompany me as he has a heart problem and the long walk up and the height would not be good for his condition so he stayed on the ground, found a shady spot to sit and stayed there until I messaged him that I was down.

Firstly, I had to purchase a ticket from the kiosk opposite the eastern part of the cathedral. It costs 7 Euros if you take the stairs and 12 Euros if you go by lift. It’s a bit of a strange carry-on, you take your ticket to the office where there is a sign saying stairs, give it to the guard who puts it through a machine and then you have to walk anti-clockwise around the cathedral until you come to a second entrance where the lift and stairs are. This entrance is guarded by soldiers and there was a long queue. I waited about 35 minutes in the queue, got bombed on the head by pigeon poop and managed not to get involved with the scammers tying bracelets around wrists and asking for payment.

Once through the barrier I was on my way up the staircase. The steps are well made and there is enough room for people to pass who are descending the climb. I started the ascent very enthusiastically and rushed up the steps too quickly. Very near to the top, I had to stop as my chest tightened and I was really out of breath. The Australian couple following behind me in the queue stopped and asked if I was okay. I replied that I was fine, just out of puff.

When I actually walked out on to the roof, my legs felt like jelly and I was a bit concerned in case, I slipped and fell. The roof slants from the top to a metal fence that circulates the whole of the rooftop; this is to stop people from falling over as it is a hell of a way down. I felt a bit sick looking down at the squared pavement of the Piazza del Duomo and had to take a deep breath to compose myself. I noticed that people were silent as they looked at the whole of Milan, a marvellous spectacle. On one side you have the Piazza, Galleria, Via Mercanti and the Loggia and on the other side you have the Arengario and the Palazzio Reale.

As you walk amongst the towers, figures and spires you can look out and see the snow covered Alps crouching below the azure sky with rolling white clouds. I was very excited to see the mountains, they were breath-taking. All ages were walking on the top of the roof; I saw small children and elderly ladies and gentleman. There is a sign saying that Bambinos have to be accompanied by an adult. There are many stone nooks and crannies where children could easily get stuck in so if you do take children up there, my advice is to hold them tightly and don’t let them out of your sight.

From start to finish the trip up to the roof and the walk about took about 45 minutes. I came down in the lift, I am not sure if I was supposed to but my ticket wasn’t checked and I thought my crumbling knees would not make the descent. Seven days later, my knees are still aching but I am glad I climbed to the top of the Duomo, it was amazing!
Milan Cathedral (Duomo)
Piazza Del Duomo
Milan, Lombardy

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