Milan – Fashion, Cultural and Financial Metropolis
Milan is inevitably linked to fashion. Exclusive designer brands such as Gucci or Versace are home in this city and are a permanent feature of the famous Milan Fashion Week. However, the fashion and financial metropolis also offers art and cultural attractions like the opera house Teatro alla Scala, Leonarda da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and Milan Cathedral.
Geography - The second biggest Italian city
Milan (Italian: Milano) is the capital of Lombardy and with an area of 182 km² and a population of 1.3 million people, it is Italy's second biggest city. Due to its geographical position, (north-west of the Po Plain and north of the Alps), the metropolis is an important traffic junction. The city itself lies on a mostly flat plain, which is enclosed by the Alps and the Apennines and has its highest point at 122 metres above sea level. This way, meteorological effects from Northern Europe and from the Mediterranean Sea are kept away and the city is dominated by a humid-continental climate with hot summers and temperate cold winters.
Nature - A recreational oasis between Sforza Castle and the Arch of Peace
The best-known and most popular park in Milan is Parco Sempione ("Simplon Park"). It has an area of 86,000 m² and was build on a former parade ground in the style of an English garden in 1893. Wide paths, great meadows and small ponds between Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) and the Arch of Peace invite visitors to relax and the many benches offer opportunities of having a rest. Other green spaces in Milan are Parco Forlanini, Giardino della Villa Comunale, Parco Lambro and Gardino Guastalla.
Culture - La Scala, The Last Supper and the former ducal palace
The territory of Milan was first settled by the Celtic tribe of the Insubres 400 BC. About 200 years later (222 BC), the Romans conquered the city and called it "Mediolanum" ("located in the middle"). As the financial, economic, cultural and fashion metropolis, Milan is also considered the country's moral capital and accommodates a World Cultural Heritage site (Santa Maria delle Grazie), the world-famous opera house Teatro alla Scala and the Italian stock exchange (Borsa Italiana). Many visitors of the city are impressed with Milan Cathedral, the Pirelli Tower - the second highest skyscraper in the whole of Europe - the elegant shopping arcade Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in the style of Art Noveau, the Cimitero Monumentale and Sforza Castle. The latter was a ducal palace in the 15th century and contains several museums and art galleries with works of world-famous painters. However, you find the city's best-known work of art in the Dominican church Santa Maria delle Grazie. Leonarda da Vinci's "The Last Supper", created between 1494 and 1498, is considered the height of the artist's creative work and is located on the northern wall of the refectory.
Experience - The leading fashion metropolis
Milan is one of the number one fashion cities besides Paris, New York and London. You find Italian fashion labels like Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani here. They present their newest trends on the famous Milan Fashion Week, which takes place twice a year. They also have shops on one of the most expensive and exclusive shopping miles in Europe, the Via Montenapoleone. Another well-known and impressive shopping destination is the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, a shopping arcade from the 19th century. More reasonable alternatives are the Corso Buenos Aires and the factory outlets in the area. Specialities of Milan's cuisine are the veal shank ossobuco alla milanese and the risotto alla zafferano (saffron risotto). But polenta, which is served in many regions in Northern Italy, is typical of the fashion metropolis too. After a substantial meal, travellers can dance the night away in a number of locations. Due to the many students and the foreign experts of the fashion and media industry, the city has a lively nightlife.
Activities - Over the Via Montenapoleone, through the Galleria Vittorio to Milan Cathedral
Milan is ideally suited for cultural holidays and long sightseeing tours. Churches, castles, art galleries and theatres are part of every traveller's programme. The metropolis is also the perfect destination for a shopping tour with the Via Montenapoleone and the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II. If you stay longer, you can visit the nearby medieval towns and bathe in wonderful lakes (e.g. Lake Como). The peaks in the Alps and the Apennines invite holidaymakers to go skiing, hiking, cycling and mountain biking.
As in other big cities, there are many pickpockets and tricksters in Milan. Many salespeople on the Cathedral square, for example, try to force tourists into buying fake bracelets or overpriced maize kernels for feeding the pigeons. The most popular seasons for travelling the trade fair city are spring and autumn, when the temperatures are pleasantly mild. If you are not planning on visiting a trade fair, you should avoid the time of the city's trade fairs because most hotels are fully booked at that time.
The metropolis of Milan is not only the ideal destination for a shopping trip but also for cultural and art holidays. In addition to the Italian fashion labels, you encounter a great variety of cultural and entertainment facilities in the city, for example La Scala or the World Cultural Heritage church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.