Splashing through the rain-splattered streets, I found the walk unpleasant. Not just because Milanese drivers give no quarter to even a solitary morning walker but also because so many of the buildings were daubed with graffiti – an Italian invention, after all.
Arriving on the square in front of Il Duomo, I stopped and stared at the sheer majesty of the great church’s Gothic architecture.
Six hundred years in the making, I had the immediate impression that not a single day had been wasted.
I walked to the far side of the piazza in front of Il Duomo, intending to photograph her from an oblique angle, only to be accosted by a huge, 20ft high by 60ft wide LCD screen, built right into the side of the cathedral wall, advertising the unholy attractions of Korea’s greatest mobile phone.
Maybe if I used one, I could call God. Maybe he would answer.
Although there was no religious service under way, already there were a couple of hundred people praying, lighting candles, going through the reassuring rituals of organized religious belief at 7.00am on a rainy weekday morning.
And these were not just the elderly women one finds in early-morning churches the world over, though, God knows, there were plenty of them, but also thirty-something businessmen on their way to the office, maybe praying for divine deliverance of a long-overdue promotion, and teenage student girls, perhaps hoping to achieve an undeserved elevation in grades that they had left too late to earn through dutiful study but hoped to inveigle through divine intervention.
Milan’s great cathedral caters to the spiritual needs of all her disparate citizens.