In most cities, just going inside the main cathedral is a great thrill – but in Milan that’s just the beginning. In fact, an even more popular attraction than the inside of the famous Milan Duomo is the cathedral’s spire-laden roof.
For €10 you can ride the elevator to the roof (it’s only €6 if you want to hoof it up the stairs) and then wander at will. The paths are pretty clearly marked, so don’t worry about getting lost. The only thing you may need to worry about is your footing, as many of the surfaces aren’t flat – you’ll be fine so long as you’re not one of the crazy women trying to climb around on a slanted roof in stiletto heels. The good news is that for most of the walk people who are afraid of heights won’t need to worry. I’m terribly afraid of heights, and there’s only one staircase that made me nervous. It has a view of the Piazza del Duomo below, but there’s no possibility anything could happen – the open areas are blocked by strong wire mesh. There are signs directing adults to hold childrens’ hands, however.
It’s said that on a clear day you can see the mountains on the horizon, but when I was up on the roof yesterday – on a clear and crisp autumn day – I still couldn’t see the actual horizon for all the smog hanging in the air. Such is reality for a city struggling with its high levels of pollution, I imagine, so don’t expect to see anything beyond the other buildings in Milan. Still, the view of the Duomo’s roof (sometimes called the “Duomo Terraces”) alone is worth the trip up there, with its thousands of spires and statues, each one a little different than the last. It’s an amazing sight from below, and even more interesting up close.
To get to the roof, you’ve got to be outside the cathedral – the elevator entrance isn’t inside. If the front of the Duomo, on Duomo Square, is at 6 o’clock, then the entrance to the elevator is at about 10 o’clock. So from the front steps, head to the left side of the cathedral and around one corner you’ll find the elevator entrance.
Location: Duomo, Piazza del Duomo
Hours: Summer, 09:00-17:45 (last ticket sold at 17:20); Winter, 09:00-16:45 (last ticket sold at 16:20)
Admission: €10 elevator, €6 stairs (family/group ticket discounts available)