The last stage of the Giro d’Italia takes place in Milan this Sunday
Cycling’s Tour of Italy or Giro d’Italia is currently in the middle of its third week, with some tough mountain stages still to be tackled before the riders embark on the final stage on 31st May. Milan takes centre stage on Sunday 31st May when the race starts in Turin and covers the 185 kilometres of mainly flat territory to Milan. On arrival in Milan the riders will face seven laps of a city centre circuit before the sprinters battle it out in a race for the finishing line. As I write this blog the overall race leader is Spaniard Alberto Contador but the glory of finishing first over the line on Sunday will almost certainly go to one of the specialist sprinters.
Milan is the usual finishing point of the Giro, although the race has skipped the city for the past two years. The tourism chiefs in the city will be hoping for good weather so that their city can look its best on the television coverage of the race. Milan certainly has plenty to show off about too. One of its most famous buildings is its cathedral, or Duomo. Standing proudly on the Piazza del Duomo, Milan’s cathedral is the third largest church in Christendom (outdone only by St Peter’s in Rome and Seville’s cathedral), Although the key elements were in place by 1391, the Duomo took the best part of 500 years to complete. Some work is still ongoing but the Duomo’s full mind-blowing beauty is now there for all to behold.
Milan is home to one of the greatest and most famous paintings in the world. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is to be found in the church of Santa Maria della Grazie. The work is has had a troubled history. Paint started peeling away in Renaissance times, when the wall was used for target practice. In the 19th century it was a backdrop to the French invasion and nearly got destroyed in the Second World War. Thanks to a restoration the fresco can now be seen in full colour.
Milan is of course famous for its haute couture. Here fashions can jump from catwalk to clothes rail in weeks. But unlike the sprawling district in Paris, Milan’s boutiques fit into one square, the Quadrilatero d’Oro (Rectangle of Gold). Designer named stores include Armani, Chanel, Missoni, Prada and Versace. Even if the price tags are out of your budget, you can spend many a happy hour admiring the window displays.
Most cycling fans will no doubt be concentrating on the Giro in Milan this Sunday, but those who also have a little time for shopping and sightseeing surely won’t be disappointed with what Milan has to offer them.