Your Milan holiday
Located in Lombardy, the province at the opening of the Italian peninsula, Milan has been a strategic city for the many civilizations and empires that ruled it throughout the centuries. Celtic tribes first settled the city in 600 BCE, later succumbing to the Romans in 222BC.
Under the Roman Empire the city flourished as a centre of trade and religion. Prosperity declined with the 568 ACE Lombard invasion, though the city regained its economic and religious status under the Frank King Charlemagne.
As the Roman Empire continued its decline, the city fell prey to Barbarian invasions and suffered centuries of instability until the 11th century, when it became a city-state with a governing council. This ended, however, with the rule of a handful of wealthy families such as the Visconti in the 13th century.
At the end of the 16th century, Milan became the grounds on which the Spanish and French monarchies vied for regional control. The Battle of Pavia, in which Charles V defeated French King Francis I, gave Spain control of Milan until the 18th century, when it lost Lombardy and its Italian territories to the Austrian Habsburgs.
Milan became the capital of Napoleon’s Italian Republic in 1802. Though Austria regained control of Lombardy, the Italian nationalist movement in the 19th century eventually defeated Austrian rule, and Milan became part of the unified Kingdom of Italy.
In the 20th century, Milan was the centre of the Italian fascism and suffered intense Allied bombardment during WWII. The city experienced an industrial boom with post-war reconstruction and immigration.
In the 1980s, Milan became known for its textile and fashion industries, and has become a centre of finance, banking, and technology in recent years.
Home to two of the best European football teams – Internazionale (2010 European Cup champions) and AC Milan – this town is the place to watch Italian football at its best. The impressive San Siro stadium hosts both teams, seating 83,000 and offering diehard fans and curious tourists a museum documenting Italian football throughout history. A number of tour companies specialize in football vacation packages and offer great ticket and hotel combination deals.
Shop at Shopper’s Mecca
When in Milan, do as the Milanese do: shop. For high fashion, head to the streets that make up the Quadrilatero d’Oro: Sant’Andrea, Vorgospesso, Della Spiga, and Montenapolen. With top Italian designer stores like Gucci, Versace, D&G Prada, Bulgari, and the giant flagship Armani store, there will be no doubt that you are in the heart of the fashion world of Europe. Other streets to check out include Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Corso Buenos Aires, and Via Tornio. For second-hand designer goods, head to the street market held every Tuesday morning on Via Painiano. Italian crafts can be found at the Viale Tunisia market Tuesday to Sundays. Do not miss the enormous food market at Piazza Wagner from Mondays through Saturdays.
La Scala Opera House
With year-round theatrical, orchestral, ballet, and opera performances, the world-famous La Scala Opera House is a place to enjoy an unforgettable evening in Milan. Gilded and draped in red velvet, the interior of La Scala boasts comfortable and well-positioned seats as well as excellent acoustics. Originally built in 1778, La Scala has undergone numerous renovations, having survived everything from fires to bombings during WWII.
Get happy at happy hour
As any good business centre must, Milan has a great happy hour. For an average of €6 a drink, you can sip cocktails every weekday from 6 to 9:30 p.m. with local Milanese who are looking for downtime after a day of work. Many happy hours also include a buffet of hearty and delicious snacks with the purchase of a drink. Neighbourhoods with the best happy hour spots are the Ticinese, Navigli, and Porta Romana areas.
Top Milan attractions
From its intricate Gothic exterior to the breathtaking views of the Alps from the top of its 135 marble spires, the Duomo di Milan – or Milan Cathedral – is a must-see for visitors.
Construction on the Duomo began in the 14th century under the Visconti family and was not completed until the 19th century under Napoleon’s reign. The result of five centuries of work is a mix of artistic and architectural styles from across the ages, complete with luminous stained glass windows and elegant flying buttresses.
Pinacoteca di Brera
Feast your eyes on one of the most important collections of Italian paintings at the Brera Art Gallery. Situated in a 17th century palace that was built over a 14th century convent, the museum owes much of its prestige to Napoleon, who ordered the reassignment private and state-owned masterpieces to its halls.
Some notable works include The Holy Conversation by Piero della Francesca, The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, and Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus.
Santa Marie delle Grazie
Once a Dominican convent, the Gothic and Renaissance-styled Santa Marie delle Grazie church was built in the late 15th century and was deemed a world heritage site by UNESCO. With a beautifully detailed nave and dome, the church is most famously known for housing Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Deteriorated though still impressive, the painting barely survived the Allied bombardment of Milan in 1943 and has undergone four restorations. Book tickets as far in advance as possible, as only 25 people are allowed to view the work at a time and slots fill up fast.
Hailed as the most beautiful cemetery in all of Italy, the Monumental Cemetery is more than just a resting place for famous Italians. With over 6,000 sculptures, obelisks, and pantheon-like chapels created by the most renowned Italian artists and architects, the cemetery is more of an open-air art museum. Architect Carlo Maciachini built the cemetery in the 1860s, and it remains a peaceful place for a break from the city bustle.
Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday
Where to stay in Milan
With its convenient downtown location, The Westin Palace Hotel is a great choice for the traveller who wants to be near it all. Rooms feature Italian décor and modern amenities like a flat-screen television and a signature Heavenly Bed. The hotel also has a fitness centre with state of the art equipment. The Casanova Restaurant serves mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine.
The Ariston Hotel is Italy’s first ecological hotel, designed with bio-architectural innovation. With a minimalist yet inviting design, the centrally located Ariston welcomes the weary traveller after a day of sightseeing. Breakfast is included, and the hotel bar offers great wines and herbal beverages prepared with purified water.
Situated in a historic downtown home, the 4-star Manin Hotel faces the tranquil Public Gardens of Via Palestro. Offering a comfortable and quiet stay in one of its 118 tastefully decorated rooms, the Manin Hotel also features a fitness area, parking, meetings rooms, and the Garden Restaurant, which serves Italian and international cuisine.
A classy lodging with modern amenities, the historic Dei Cavalieri Hotel is located just steps from the Duomo di Milan. The hotel’s 177 rooms all feature wireless Internet access, a mini-bar, air-conditioning, and cable TV. The Dei Cavalieri also features six meeting rooms and a roof garden for business needs or private functions.
How to move around in Milan
During the summer, locals tend to head out of Milan to escape the humidity. To experience city life the best time to go is in the spring or fall, though winters are also generally mild.
To and from Milan
Milan has two airports, the international Malpensa and the domestic Linate. The Malpensa Express train will take you from the airport to the Cadorna railway and metro station in the historic centre of town. As Linate is closer to town, an inexpensive taxi ride or bus are good options. If you are travelling to Milan from other Italian or European cities by train, you will arrive at the Milano Centrale at Piazza Duca d' Aosta. From the station a variety of bus, tram, and metro lines are easily accessible.
Milan has a great public transportation system, complete with a metro, buses, and trams. For the maximum freedom during your stay however, consider car hire in Milan. Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) run all metro, tram, and bus services. Four metro lines that run from 6 a.m.-12 a.m. will get you to most downtown destinations. The city’s 51 bus routes cover main tourist areas as well as a number of trams. Tickets for these methods of transport can be purchased at stations and newsstands and cost one euro a piece or €8 for 10 rides. City taxis start at €2.50. Extra charges apply for luggage.
Eat at communal tables like a real Italian family at the Trattoria Milanese (Via Santa Marta, 11), a down-to-earth restaurant loved by locals and visitors alike. Savour a bowl of hearty minestrone soup, risotto with frogs or bone marrow, or a truffled Rognoncino, veal kidney. For dessert, try a lemon sorbet with vodka or the hot Italian sponge cake meneghina.
The trendy Bebel’s Ristorante (Via San Marco, 38) is located in the Brera-San Marco neighbourhood and serves an array of Italian as well as local Lombardy specialties. Make sure to try the grilled fish accompanied with risotto, artichoke salad with sliced Parmesan cheese, cotoletta alla milanesa or breaded veal cutlet, and an assortment of pizzas. Call to book ahead of time, as this popular restaurant gets busy.
For absolute indulgence, head to Chocolat Milano (Via Boccaccio, 9), the café and gelaterie with a wide selection of pastries, desserts, and ice creams, that incorporate milk, white, dark, and even chilli chocolate. Ice cream flavours include exotic honey and poppy seed cream, basil lemon, and chocolate pear.
The casual atmosphere, attentive service, unbeatable prices, and superb food at Da Maruzzella have earned it a spot in the hearts of both travellers and the Milanese. With large wood-oven cooked pizzas, ample portions of dishes like the lobster spaghetti, and classic Italian desserts like tiramisu and panna cotta, it is no wonder Dar Maruzzella has visitors coming back for seconds.
Health & Safety
Italy has an excellent health infrastructure similar to that of France. Ask your local Social Security centre for a European Health Insurance Card before leaving. Water in Milan is potable, though there are many bottled water brands available.
Pharmacies are also plentiful in town. While there are no required vaccinations for a trip to Milan, those recommended include tetanus, polio, diphtheria, and pertussis.
Important phone numbers
Emergencies: dial 118 for Pronto Soccorso or (02) 39 04 30 51
European Emergency number: 112
National police: 113
Fire department: 115
Clinics: San Paolo, emergency number: 02 81 84 250
General practitioner: Dr. Antonella Tamborini (Via Saint-Bon 20, 02 48 31 71)
Pediatrician: Dr Gian Piero Del Bono (Via P. Teulié 1, 333 31 13 949)
Pharmacy care: 800 801185
Though assaults are infrequent, petty crime is common in tourist areas and on public transportation. Do not walk alone at night or in poorly lit areas. Try not to walk around with flashy jewellery or objects that may attract attention.
Do not carry large amounts of cash on your person. Keep a copy of your travel documents with you at all times, storing the originals in a safe place such as a safe at your hotel.
Take care when driving on narrow and winding roads as well as roundabouts, where cars on the right have priority. Italian drivers can be undisciplined so drive defensively.
Milan Holiday Packages
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