Milan (Milano), Italy's wealthiest and second biggest city, is definitely a sophisticated cosmopolitan capital famed for being Italyâ€™s main pole of attraction for people interested in Fashion, Design and New Trends.
Milan is not only a historical main tourist attraction, but also a major destination for those wishing to experience Italian city-life in an authentic mix of tradition and modernity, easy to spot in its museums, theatres and sports-stadiums, or simply enjoying a stroll in a vibrant and varied city-life renowned for shopping, aperitifs and bubbling night-life, all under the roof of Duomo Cathedral, the ultimate example of Italian Gothic Architecture.
Since the 1970s, Milan has been Italy's automobile industry and financial marketsâ€™ main centre, but the business scene is now dominated by fashion houses that constantly draw attention on the Milanese scene with all the entourage of Media, Models, Journalist and magazines gravitating around the Fashion world.
- Population: 1.5 million.
- Country: Italy
- Time: GMT/UTC plus one hour (plus two hours in summer)
- Telephone area code: 02
Orientation and Practicalities
Milan is the capital of Lombardy region and it is structured around the city-centre and the Duomo in a net-like spreading structure.
As most European big cities, Milan is composed of different areas, all with their own peculiarity. The modern centre is located around Central Station, and is dominated by the Pirelli skyscraper, which was built in 1956; Navigli District is the bohÃ©mien area of the city, with its restaurants, small cafÃ©s and bars near the artificial canals of Milan and popular with young people and students for its aperitivo-buffets; the historical city-centre, with old-fashioned buildings, the Caste, the Duomo and easy-to-walk paths which will make you feel like you are immersed in a different era.
The city has two main airports, Malpensa and Linate: the former is located 48km northwest of Milan and is the city's main airport, while the latter is only 7km away from the city-centre. Milan is also an easy reach from Bergamoâ€™s Orio al Serio Airport, usually serving low-cost companies.
Milan is filled with any kind of Restaurants and Italian-style trattoria, where you will have plenty of choice to enjoy typical Milanese Cuisine (risotto, different kinds of meat dishes such as Cotoletta, a delicious deep-fried pork cutlet, Panettone, the traditional Christmas cake and so on) and you will find thousands of Bars, Clubs and Hotels to satisfy all sorts of tastes and budgets.
Attractions in Milan
Right in the city-centre and representing its vibrant heart, Milan's Duomo is the world's largest gothic cathedral. It was started 1386 and it is entirely made of white and pink marble. Inside, some notable pieces of Art are the wooden choir and many of the statues and the nivola, the peculiar basket containing what is believed to be a nail from the cross of Christ; on the outside, on its roof, the Duomo is made of incredible spires and pinnacles: on the top of it lies the â€˜Madonnina', a golden Virgin-Mary statue which is lit at night and protects the whole city with its peaceful presence. Visitors can either take the lifts outside the apse or climb the 158 stairs to rach the top and enjoy Milanâ€™s wonderful skyline.
Opening hours are from 07:00 to 19:00 daily. Admission to the cathedral is free but there is a charge to visit the roof-terrace.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo) is Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece. Painted between 1495 and 1497 for the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, it shows Christ's last supper and the exact moment of revelation of Judaâ€™s betrayal. The amazingly sharp attention of Leonardo to symbolism, dimensions and emotions makes this painting the most visited art attraction in Milan. You can find it in Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie 2, Corso Magenta
Be aware that opening times vary; visits are limited to 15 minutes, in groups of 25; booking is compulsory and you need to reserve well in advance to make sure you will be able to see this incredible fresco.
Museo Teatrale alla Scala (Theatre Museum at La Scala)
La Scala, Milanâ€™s and maybe Italyâ€™s most famous Opera House, hosts a great museum that should be a must for all Opera and Classical Music lovers: here you will see old costumes and wigs, ancient and rare musical instruments, and even a fortepiano that belonged to Giuseppe Verdi himself, discovering all the magic of Italian Opera and its intellectual flavour. Largo Ghiringhelli 1
The museum is open daily, 09:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 17:30.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
It is located in front of the Duomo, and it represent a perfect example of Milanâ€™s belle Ã©poque architecture. It is an enchanting glass-roofed shopping arcade and it links the Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Scala: locals and tourists enjoy a Campari-soda while walking through its mosaic-made flooring, having a look at bookshops, boutiques or simply resting in one of the numerous bars lining the gallery.
It is open daily, and bars and shops close at various times.
Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Museum)
It is one of the biggest and richest picture galleries in Milan: containing masterpieces of Venetian and Lombard painters and masters such as Bellini, Mantegna, Raffaello, Piero della Francesca and Mantegna. In the courtyard, you can see a statue of Napoleon sculpted by Canova: Napoleon himself, in fact, founded the gallery in 1809 and slowly enlarged its collection with pieces coming from his Italian campaigns.
Brera Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:30 to 19:30, and it is definitely a must-see in Milan.