Even if you don't take the train to or from Milan, Stazione Centrale is certainly worth a visit. It is a very impressive building, and possibly the most elegant and extra-ordinary train station in the world.
Although it looks very old, the train station was only finished in 1931 - but the design is from 1912, and therefore reflects the style of Art Nouveau. The building was mostly made from marble.
When we visited, the main entrance was closed due to renovation, otherwise it would have been even more impressive. Because the whole Piazzale D'Aosta was a construction site, it was hard to get any decent pictures from the whole building.
The interior of the station is very elegant and luxurious, with high ceilings and a lot of decorations. Some parts of it would rather feel like a palace, if it was not for the masses of people and the busy atmosphere. However, the station is also very modern, with many shops, fast escalators and other amenities.
I did not take that many pictures of the station because I did not want to be busy with my camera among the crowds of people, hawkers and the pickpockets which must certainly be present here. It is good to be cautious, but apart from this, we enjoyed the train station very much and enjoyed its atmosphere, and having a break here in the morning.
If you are arriving at, or staying near, Milano Centrale and need an internet connection this handy little cafe is located on the piazza Duca d'Aosta, opposite the station's main entrance. I personally didn't need to use it and so can't comment on the service except to say that it looked quite busy when I passed it.
Whilst it's the main station of Milan, handling trains heading into Switzerland, Rome, Venice, Naples, Bologna etc, it's also a place where many more local trains arrive/depart (Como, Bergamo etc). More than 300,000 people a day pass through.
But it's also an extraordinary architectural sight in its own right. Replacing the first Milano Centrale that was found a kilometre or so closer to the city at the Piazza della , the current station is mammoth.
Spread over many floors (the Metro underground but the main platforms are to be found, bizarrely, above the ground level, requiring escalators, lifts, ramps and stairs to get to them - not great if you have a lot of luggage - the station was started at the beginning of the 20th century. But slow process and WWi delayed the building, so when Mussolini came to power he saw the perfect opportunity to present the Central Station of Rome as the perfect way of promoting the power of fascism and his regime.
If you want to feel inconsequential, see the station! The Duomo is huge but with its dimly-lit interior, religious art etc the size does not impact in the same way as the plain, marble halls of the station.
Modelled on Union STation, Washington, everything about Centrale, completed in 1931, is big.
Not just for the trains elsewhere, and certainly not for its shopping centre...you can find similar anywhere.
But for its unique architecture.
This enormous wedding-cake of a station was started in 1906 (the foundation stone was laid by King Victor Emmanuel lll), its architect Ulisse Stacchini. But eonomic crises, and wars, meant it developed slowly....
Mussolini changed the plans and the station in its final form opened in 1831.
The central ceiling is 72 metres high, the main facade 200 metres wide and the station is full of sculptures, tilework and murals. I did take some photos but much of the interesting architecture detail is too high for my camera to cope with.
But it's worth exploring and looking carefully, because this is a pretty amazing place. If nothing else, plan to arrive early for your train! :-)
The station has no definite architectural style, but is a blend of many different styles, especially Liberty and Art Deco, but not limited to those. It is adorned with numerous sculptures. “The ‘incongruous envelope of stone’ (Attilio Pracchi) of this gigantic and monumental building dominates Piazza Duca d’Aosta.”
King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy laid the cornerstone of the new station on April 28, 1906. The last, real, contest for its construction was won in 1912 by architect Ulisse Stacchini, whose design was modeled after Union Station in Washington, DC, and the construction of the new station began.
Due to the Italian economic crisis during World War I, construction proceeded very slowly, and the project, rather simple at the beginning, kept changing and became more and more complex and majestic. This happened especially when Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister, and wanted the station to represent the power of the fascist regime.
The major changes were the new platform types and the introduction of the great steel canopies by Alberto Fava; 341 metres long and covering an area of 66,500 square metres.
Construction resumed in earnest in 1925 and on July 1, 1931 the station was officially opened in the presence of Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano.
Its facade is 200 metres wide and its vault 72 metres high, a record when it was built. It has 24 platforms. Each day about 330,000 passengers use the station, totalling about 120 million per year.
Milano Centrale is Italy’s second-largest station in terms of size and traffic volume, with around 600 trains per day, two metro lines, the nearby Railway Link, the terminus of a number of urban bus and tram lines and shuttle buses to the airports; located in piazza Duca d'Aosta, in the centre of the city, it is used by over 320 thousand persons per day, around 120 million per year.
This station is massive! Yet it is chaotic, has lots of steps and not very family/child oriented! I dread to think about mothers with strollers and young children! The toilets at the time we were there were so full of people outside that it was hard to find them. There were plenty of mess and I can safely say the people are not too helpful here!
It was just lucky that I found a "tv reporter" from the Italian NEws Agency who was interviewing people about their experiences due to the volcanic ash problems causing delays in their travels. My husband saw him and I decided to tell him our predicament. Our first time to see long lines in a train station meant we might take ages before we could get tickets. So I asked him to help us use the ticket machine,. Which he obliged and so luckily after getting our 4 first class tickets, we just needed to negotiate the steep and many flights of steps with our luggages! It was a rough the first time we were there but not so much when we returned after our first cruise from Venice! We were supposed to take a plane from Paris to Venice but our London & PAris flights were cancelled so we had to go to Milan to go to Venice.
This station is huge! We used it a few times, First when we came from Rome as we were supposed to land at Milan Airport but then our flight was diverted to Rome. We took a train from this station after getting off the airport bus from Milan and it was a scary feeling! There were long lines at the ticket office. Luckily hub & I saw this tv reporter interviewing some people at the end of the line which we were supposed to join. I got myself interviewed after he finished talking to the Italian guy and I told him briefly our predicament and if he could please help us buy tickets at the automatic ticket machines as I was so worried we would get to Venice late and we didn't have any reservation as we were booked in London and Paris at that time (and our flights have been cancelled).
He readily agreed, and after a few attempts at inserting my card, etc..we got ourselves 4 first class tickets to Venice!
It was a stressful time for us, having four medium to large luggages, 2smaller hand carries and three backpacks! My hubby kept reminding me I should have gotten smaller luggages! The place doesn't have ramps or lifts for easy travelling- I am wondering how the disabled could cope here, unbelievable. I thought Milan was a modern city! So be warned! At one point I was desperate to negotiate the many stairs leading to the station that I even slid one of my luggages it goes straighn down fast,LOL! Thank goodness I got a bit smart and bought good quality Pierre Cardin luggages, JAG and Caribee. They proved beneficial for us. Our luggages held on till the end of our trip!
Also, there were people actually sleeping near the toilets and you have to pay 50 Euros cents. It was filthy and smelly there too! Not so good on our first day at Milan.
This station was built under the Fascism era in Milan and inaugurated in 1931 following the project of Mr. Ulisse Stacchini
The façade of the station, in Aurisina stone, has a Pharaonic scale that is inevitably compared to Germanic culture. In the gallery at the entrance, medallions by Giannino Castiglioni depict Work, Commerce, Science and Agriculture, while the first-floor gallery is embellished by panels in ceramic with views of Milan, Turin, Florence and Rome by Basilio and Cascella
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