FACTOID: The city of Milan had a more extensive canal system than Venice - in fact three times as many canal miles. The first canal was built in 1200 and the system was used until the 1970s.
The train ride from Parma to Milan took about one hour. The first thing we noticed was the difference in the political signs between the very conservative north (Milan) and the much more liberal south (Rome). These two posters were both somewhat anti-immigrant - one about the Chinese and one about Muslims. The poster was for Magdi Cristiano Allam who is running for office. He is an Egyptian journalist who lives in Italy and has officially left Islam for Christianity. As you can imagine he needs to have body guards at all time to protect him.
Although you see posters for the party of Berlusconi in Rome you very rarely see any with his picture but in Milan they were plentiful. Only those that make fun of him in Rome have his picture.
This is what happens to the signs after they are out of date. One group takes them down and then at some point another group comes by to pick them up but for long periods they remain on the sidewalk.
You cannot go anywhere in the world without having a chance to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Basketball is popular in Italy.
The Queen stands in front of a statue of Leonardo da Vinci. It is close to the church where the Last Supper is displayed. We could not see it since we did not have a reservation.
Our friends Adriana and Doug picked our meeting place at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is a covered shopping arcade opened at the end of the 19th century. It is located between the Duomo and La Scala. It is named after the first King of Italy. This was not the first covered shopping arcade in Europe but when built it was the largest.
La Scala is the world famous opera house which opened in 1778. We could not go inside because it was closed for tours the day we were there.
The Queen stands in front of the duomo. The gothic cathedral took 600 years to complete and is the 4th largest cathedral in the world. There was a basilica in this location in the 6th century but this building was started on this site in 1386.
When you go from one church to another and from one town to another it is hard to judge the relative size of each church. This one was big.
The floors were all different colored marble with beautiful designs.
Normally there are some candles to light in the churches but this cathedral had several very long banks of candles.
The King and Queen climbed to the top of the duomo.
There were many carved statues. Although there are still some statues that have not been carved the official completion of the duomo was 1965.
The square had a few museums including a modern art museum. This was the outdoor exhibit in front of the museum. The huge pile is sand.
This is the view of this installation from the top of the duomo.
This is a monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi with the Sforzesco Castle in the background - one of the biggest citadels in Europe. It is now a museum.
The Queen is with Adriana and Doug inside the grounds of the Sforzesco Castle.
We had lunch with Adriana and Doug on a quiet pedestrian street in Milan.
This is the inside courtyard of the Brera Art Museum. We went there after lunch.
We had no idea that Milan had a series of canals. In fact the canal system allowed you to go by boat to the lake region of Italy and also all the way to Venice and the Adriatic Sea. The canals made Milan, a land locked city, a major port.
At one time the canals fell into disfavor with the advent of the train and trucks. They became cesspools and only recently have the area around the canals been gentrified with trendy restaurants and shops.
The day we were there they had a boat show. There were lots of people there.
They even had a booth for Boston whalers.
One company was selling a kit to turn an ordinary bicycle into a watercraft.
This was a little water truck.
At this booth they were teaching people how to sail. The boat was mounted so that it could pitch back and forth and sideways and rotate so that when the giant fan was turned on it simulated actual sailing except you could fall out and drown.
This was one of the few areas that were left over from when the canal was actually used. This was the Vicolo dei Lavandai (Washers' Alley). In the past women would wash their clothes in the pool fed by the Naviglio Grande - the canal in front of the Queen..
We had an early dinner at a restaurant on the canal.
This eel like looking fish was for sale in the fish market along one of the canals.