MilanMilan is famous as one of the world’s most influential fashion capitals, so make some room in your wardrobe and get ready for a makeover. Milan is a major cultural centre in Italy, with world class museums and galleries, the Duomo cathedral and ancient churches, impressive architecture of opulent Italian villas. After viewing da Vinci’s Last Supper, try Lombardi specials like ossobuco and risotto alla Milanese in one of the neighbourhood restaurants. Milan is the perfect starting point for exploring the prettiest landscapes of northern Italy.
The CityMilan was founded by Celtic tribes around 600 B.C. When the Romans conquered the city, it was renamed "Mediolanum" — the land in the middle. Thanks to Milan’s strategic location in the middle of the fertile Po River valley, it quickly became an important centre for trade in the Roman Empire. Later, it also became its western capital. Today, Milan is the second largest city in Italy. Almost everything in Milan revolves around the fashion industry. Most famous designers and fashion houses tend to be located in the city — the area around Via Monte Napoleone and Via Della Spiga is the heart and home to many fashion industry flagship stores. Centro Storico is where many of the city’s famous sights are located, including the Duomo and La Scala Opera. Navigli, by the canals, is another exciting neighbourhood famous for its nightlife, while Brera is an artsy enclave.
Do & See
The best way to understand how Milan is laid out is to take a ride on one of the trams. Route 1 runs from the main train station, via Piazza Cairoli to Castello Sforzesco and is probably the best choice. But many other routes also offer good views of the city, so jump on and let it take you on a tour of the city's best sights and attractions.
Milan has a large selection of restaurants, from authentic family-run lunch places, to strict sushi eateries and top-class establishments where the corporate credit card reigns supreme. As is often the case in Italy, the best dining experience is usually a less extravagant affair in honest trattorias serving local and national specialities. Dinner in Italy usually start between 8 pm and 10 pm. It typically begins with an antipasti course of small bites paired with aperitivo cocktails. Aperitivo can be had as early as 6 pm, if you are not in a hurry — and you shouldn't be.
In Italy, gelato is eaten just as religiously as pasta. It’s not only Italy’s delicious answer to ice cream — it is a way of life. Accompany yours with a strong espresso or cappuccino for the full Milan cafe experience.
Bars & Nightlife
The Brera and Navigli neighbourhoods have the most bars and offer bustling nightlife. For a more trendy option, try the area around Corso Como. Do it the Milanese way and mingle at a selection of bars between 7 pm and 9 pm, when filling snacks may be served along with your aperitivo.
Milan is the capital of fashion, and there is plenty to choose from when it comes to shopping. Even those less interested in fashion (or who can’t afford the often high prices) will find exploring Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga and the surrounding streets rewarding. This is where all the fashion houses have their impressive flagship stores. Armani’s department store on Via Manzoni 31 is a good example, or Gucci’s store on Via Monte Napoleone (this one covers an entire city block). Dolce & Gabbana’s impressive store on Corso Venezia is housed in the former palace of a Sicilian nobleman.