Forget for a second that the train hurtling you across the country at upwards of 200 miles per hour is outfitted like a private jet on the inside. If you were to just go by appearances on arrival at Milano Centrale, you would swear you have stepped straight off the train and right into the 1920s and 30s.
As one the grand iron architectural works of industrializing Europe, its trusses remind you immediately of the standard bearer of this kind of work, the Eiffel Tower.
Size too… at 72 meters wide and 35 meters tall, the central nave of the station (there are multiple “smaller” ones off each side) is similar to any one of the four great arches at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Also, the station’s roof extends for 341 meters, greater even than the 301 meter height of the Tower in Paris.
The person responsible for its design was Alberto Fava, an engineer who cut his teeth building the many metal truss bridges for the railroad in northern Italy. Fitting, both symbolically and in terms of know-how, that he was given the job to build the station’s great roof where those same trains arrived.
No great locomotives belching jets of steam nowadays, but the beauty and complexity of the work still grab your attention as they surely did for travelers a century ago.