Milan - Italy
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Milan is finely situated, in the centre of Lombardy, between the Ticino and the Adda, on the same plains with Pavia, Placentia, Parma, and Bologna; Florence being on a lower level, beyond a range of the Appenines, deep in the valley of the Arno.
My short stay in Milan circumscribes my notices on this city, confining them merely to a few observations on some of its most striking features. With its general aspect I have been greatly pleased, and I am aware that the resources it presents in science are of the highest class.
Including the suburbs and gardens, I am told Milan covers a space of ten miles. Some of the streets are wide, especially the main street, forming the centre of the city, although they are generally narrow; but the effect produced by the foliage of the fine trees, that relieve the eye in every direction, is very delightful. The Corso, or public walk, is beautiful, running along a space which opens to enchanting prospects in every direction. The impressions excited on entering Milan are very pleasing. In the evening or morning hours the shops are filled, the streets frequented, the corso covered by numbers of well-appointed carriages, and the whole presenting that busy, cheerful, crowded population, which gives the idea of a fine capital.
Milan has no foreign trade; but the canals connecting it on one side with the Adda, and on the other with the Ticino, supply vast facilities and sources of interior commerce.
Although I reached Milan at an early hour in the afternoon, yet I was so delayed by some necessary arrangements, that it was late, and night had nearly closed in, before I was at liberty to walk out. I then hurried forth in eager haste to view the Cathedral, that celebrated monument of antiquity. Acquainted with its site only from the general impression received on approaching the city, I passed on hastily, without knowing exactly how to direct my steps: when, entering from a narrow street into a great square, I suddenly and unexpectedly turned upon this noble edifice, which, in this my first view, I beheld, not in the usual form, standing flat and monotonous, with a broad and wide-spread front; but presenting itself obliquely, its pure white marble, its dazzling spiry fret-work, rising high and bright in light, elegant, and indistinct forms.
In the shade of night the effect was superb, and for a moment I was indeed astonished. The vivid and powerful sensations, arising from first impressions, on beholding a building so beautiful and singular, cannot re-turn a second time. There are moments when recollections of past ages crowd upon the mind—Gothic structures forcibly bring to memory images of holy rites, recalling the period when crusades and pilgrimages animated the spirit, and filled the souls of kings, warriors, and priests—when to offer relics at the sacred shrine, to adorn altars with the gorgeous spoil taken in war, was at once the means to make peace with Heaven, and obtain power over man. I stood long gazing on this splendid edifice, which, as night closed in, I distinguished only by the lustre of its own white marble.