Although Milan is the second-most important urban center in Italy after Rome, they are completely different cities. While Rome continues to enjoy fame, wealth, and tourism from its association as the seat of the Roman Empire, Milan is best known today for its art, fashion and design. That said, Milan has a very rich and eventful history spanning over two-thousand years and is dotted with many historical landmarks, most which date from the late Middle Ages, when the city enjoyed its greatest resurgence in power and wealth.
Once a smaller trading village is the plains south of the Alps, Milan rose to prominence during the Middle Ages and, along with Florence, was one of the leading cities during the Renaissance. Its majestic cathedral, or Doumo, dates from this time and Leonardo Da Vinci lived in the city for many years and it is where he painted one of the most famous paintings in world art history: The Last Supper.
Today, Milan has become Italy’s most prosperous industrial and manufacturing center, the country’s financial and transportation hub, one of its most visited cities by tourists, and a synonym of high-fashion, design and technology.
Why learn Italian in Milan?
Milan is Italy’s most modern and prosperous city.
Located in the center of North Italy, Milan has excellent transport links with nearby destinations, like Turin, Venice, and the Alps.
As a focal city for the world’s fashion industry, anyone interested in fashion should attend at least one of its famous Fashion Weeks.
Architecturally speaking, Milan has a wide array of landmarks, ranging from its late-Gothic Duomo to the ultramodern Vertical Forest (Bosco Verticale).
Best time to go is mid-April to October.
In August, most locals escape the summer heat of Milan, leaving the city half-empty. If you can handle the humidity, you can navigate and explore Milan with greater ease; but be beware that some attractions close during this period.
During both Fashion Weeks, anybody who is a somebody in the world of fashion goes to Milan. Supermodels, top designers, famed photographers, and everyone important in the industry flock to dozens of shows and red carpets.
Football is a big deal in Italy and Milan and its home-teams, AC Milan and Inter, are two of the most successful teams worldwide. They share the iconic San Siro Stadium, so it is always possible to watch a game!
The Duomo is Milan’s famed gothic cathedral, a masterpiece of the late Middle Ages and the epicenter of the city. Not only should every visitor admire its intricate exterior and stunning interior, but it is also possible to climb to the roof for one of the best views of Milan.
The best art gallery in Milan is the Pinacoteca di Brera, containing masterpieces of Italian art, and surrounded by one of the hippest neighborhoods in town.
“The Last Supper,” painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, is one of the most famous, most studied, and most influential works of art of the Renaissance. It is located in the Santa Maria delle Grazie Basilica, which itself is a World Heritage Site.
Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals and, as such, its Spring and Fall Fashion Weeks are events where the city becomes flooded by fashionistas, designers, photographers and, obviously, tourists. Events take place all around the city, but some are invitation-only.
Milan is the undisputed world capital of furniture design. For that reason, the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (Milan Furniture Fair) attracts over 270,000 people and over 2,000 companies and designers from around the world, every first or second week of April.
Year-round, the Teatro alla Scala (also simply known as “La Scala”) hosts the best of the best for opera, ballet, and concerts. As one of the most prestigious theaters in the world, make sure to get tickets well in advance.
Cotoletta is Milan’s most well-known dish, consisting of a thin breaded veal cutlet. However, Milan’s greatest treat is panettone, a sweet bread eaten around the Christmas period.
Due to Milan’s status as a fashion capital, places to shop are plentiful, including its “Fashion Quadrangle” (Quadrilatero della Moda). That said, nearby Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world’s first shopping malls and is a truly remarkable palace for fashion.
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