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The terraces of the Duomo with aperitif: traces of a tradition

Memories of the past from the Photographic Archive of Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo

5 June Jun 2019 1232 05 June 2019

Many Milanese skyscrapers and buildings offer an amazing view of the city, but the only place conceived for this purpose through the centuries and even today―despite the presence of other taller buildings―has not lost its leading role in terms of suggestive charm, we are referring to the terraces of the Duomo.

Unique among European cathedrals, from the initial projects, the Duomo’s roof was designed to be both a wonder to be admired with its numberless details and a place to be experienced and explored, lingering to admire the view at leisure. At a height of more than 60 m above the ground, the walkways of the terraces offer a closer look of the magnificent spires, bas-reliefs and all the minor decorations that make the Cathedral the mirror of the centuries it has crossed. And when the eye shifts from the pink and white hues of the Candoglia marble, it admires the city that busily carries on around this infinite construction yard: from the neighbouring bell tower of the Church of San Gottardo in Corte to the latest skyscrapers that have changed the city’s skyline in recent years.

This site has always drawn the interest of the Milanese and of all those who visit Milan. Indeed in the early 1920s they even thought of creating a refreshment counter for tourists, whose numbers were growing at the time. Hence, a genuine café was established on the terraces. We have interesting photographic evidence of this and―as with all the details of the Duomo’s history―extensive documentation in the Archive. Today these papers allow us to reconstruct the management process of that particular business, including purchasing method for supplies, concern about preventing waste from impairing the decorum of the site, and even the price list.

The different approach to the Cathedral and to cultural assets makes it unthinkable to propose such an initiative once again, today, but the wonder experienced by thousands of visitors who daily climb up to the terraces remains unchanged. Summer enhances the charm of this opportunity and Veneranda Fabbrica has extended opening hours from 1 June to 15 September, until 8.30 pm, to savour the fascinating sunset among the spires. Moreover, Veneranda Fabbrica proposes an interesting solution, the “Evening tour of the terraces with aperitif” to experience the traditional climb up the Duomo enhanced by an aperitif.