Duomo Climb, Milan
Piazza del Duomo, Milan
Milan’s most famous building, other than perhaps the San Siro stadium, is it’s Cathedral or Duomo – Duomo di Milano to give the official title. We first laid eyes on this incredible building on our first trip to Milan back in 2009 and now on our third visit to Milan the Duomo is still a pleasure to view each and every time.
Incredibly throughout all those trips we never actually got down to climbing the Duomo to take in the amazing roof and view across the city, this simply had to be put right. On a blazing hot July afternoon we headed down to the Piazza Duomo and prayed that the lines weren’t going to be out of control busy.
One irritance about the Duomo, especially if you haven’t been before, is that the ticket office and the entrances are opposite sides of the Cathedral. Looking at the Duomo from the front, to the right is the ticket office and to the left is the entrances for the stairs climb with the lift entrance just around the corner to the back. The systems in place to buy tickets are a bit different to most popular tourist attractions.
The staff give you a number on a receipt via a machine and leave you in the gift shop, behind which are the desks which you cannot approach until your number appears on the big screen to the left. We were lucky in the sense that it wasn’t overly busy but we could see this system being a problem in the peak times. After a wait of 20 minutes we got our tickets for the stairs climb at a cost of €9 (£8). If you want to save your legs you can opt for the lift at €13 (£11.56).
So why didn’t we just take the lift? I hear you ask. Well after seeing the lines for the lift’s passing the one hour mark and the virtually non existent queue for the stairs it really wasn’t a tough choice. As tempting as a suntan while-you-wait and an easy route to the top was, it just didn’t seem worth it for the extra.
One thing to really be careful of while in and around the Duomo are the large numbers of men and women selling bracelets and other items, a common sight across most major cities in Italy maybe but many groups of pickpockets operate in this way so do be careful with your valuables. On the plus side they weren’t particularly threatening and do take no for an answer. More of a nuisance than a threat in our experience.
Within 5 minutes of queue time we were in. Basic security by way of a soldier running a wand metal detector over you is all that stands between you and the multiple flights of stairs to the top. In similarity to the Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower in Florence the staircases are very tight, dark and are not recommended for the claustrophobic amongst you. In contrast to the two aforementioned climbs – this one is far easier.
Within 10 minutes of starting our ascent we were stunned to be at the top already given that the Cathedral looked huge from the ground looking up. The problem at the top is that the stairs and the lift both meet at the same entrance to the terrace so the likely chances are if you arrive at the same time as a tour group or large group you might have a bit of a wait for a gap to appear.
Once on the terrace though with the sun beaming down on our faces the view of Milan was stunning. The close look at the gargoyles and intricate carvings into the stone spires was truly memorable and offers a unique up close and personal look at this incredible structure. Again, the rooftop was busy with groups of people jostling for the perfect photo but getting around the roof also was tricky with only small doorways in the stone to fit people through.
We headed around to the front of the Duomo roof and caught a glimpse of the entire square below. Looking upwards however, there is the upper terrace which offers the ultimate view over Milan. We climbed the narrow stairs to the top which opens out onto a long section across the bridge of the roof. Gaps between the spires give way to the most breathtaking view of the square and beyond.
Getting down wasn’t too bad, nor did it take too much time. The narrow staircase really isn’t designed for people with bags or large objects – I mean really, who brings a rucksack up multiple flights of stairs in a tight passageway? All that aside though the Duomo climb is seriously worth doing. The price paid was value for money undoubtedly and if you can catch it on a clear day, you might just get the best view in Milan.
Opening times: Daily 0900-1900 (Last ticket 1800, last admission 1810)
Nearest metro: Duomo