City guide: Milan, Italy

As one of the world’s fashion capitals which moreover boasts some of the world’s finest art and architecture, Milan has been on the world’s greatest cities’ list for decades. Here are some suggestions on how to spend some time in style in the capital of style.

 

The modern Milan

History and overview:

Milan has been inhabited since about 400BC by the Celtics before being conquered by the Romans who incorporated the city into the Western Roman Empire and built a great amount of fortifications and Roman military sites in Milan.

The city has been part of various kingdoms that were later integrated into the new unified state of Italy. As capital of the prosperous Lombardy region, Milan has always played a strategic political and economic role for the whole of Italy.

Milan has moreover been an stronghold for Northern Italy’s wealthy merchants for centuries and its fashion industry has risen to global dominance throughout the 20th century.

Milan is nowadays Italy’s economic powerhouse and one of the richest cities in the country. This dominance results from the steady growth of the many sectors that contribute to its economic success, notably the fashion industry, the finance sector and tourism. Milan’s 21st century prosperity is visible in the modern parts of the city where huge skyscraper developments are taking shape one after the other.

A typical Milan street
The ‘bosco verticale’, one of the innovative modern highrises

Accommodation:

Una Hotel Mediterraneo: A nice mid range hotel with all the usual amenities that is reasonably priced for Milan standards and close to the Metro. Book your stay here

UNA Maison Milano: One of the many great boutique hotels in the city centre which delight travellers with their beautiful stylish rooms and their impeccable service.
Book your stay here

The Yard Milan: A charming and stylish boutique hotel strategically located in the lively Naviglio district with a great breakfast assortment and spacious design rooms. Book your stay here

The view from atop the Duomo

Cultural offer and activities:

Duomo: One of the most famous cathedrals in the world and an absolute must when visiting Milan. The observation deck up top furthermore offers stunning views over the city.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. : Probably the most beautiful gallery in the world which houses some of Milan’s best known designer stores. Fashion aside, the most impressive elements regarding Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are certainly the exterior and interior architecture as well as the fabulous mosaics lining the floor.

Castello Sforzesco: (Piazza Castello) Right in the centre of Milan you will find a 15th century castle that has been renovated and rebuilt on numerous occasions and thereby risen to old glory again with its beautiful ancient fortifications and its green park.

Shopping: Corso Venezia & Corso Buenos Aires: Shopping is usually not an activity included in my city guides but there is no way you can leave Milan without having brushed up on some desinger wear. You will find all the well known designers around Corso Venezia while Corso Buenos Aires, the longest shopping street in Europe, is home to more affordable brands.

Pinacoteca di Brera: (Via Brera 28) One of the oldest art museums in the world located in the baroque Palazzo di Brera and housing some of Italy’s finest works of art.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s last supper: (Santa Maria delle Grazie 2) This painting definitely needs no introduction, one of the most renowned paintings in the world (yes, I have seen the Da Vinci Code and its historical accuracy is highly debatable) by one of the most famous painters ever to have lived can be admired in the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria della Grazie and should under no circumstances be missed when visiting Milan.

The Duomo

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Castello Sforzesco
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper

Wine & Dine:

Essenza (Via Marghera 34): Well known Dutch-Italian chef Eugenio Boer opened this food temple in 2015 and has delighted locals and travellers alike with his varied menu of local and international dishes.

Going out:

Naviglio area: One of the coolest areas to go out in Milan, a great amount of bars and clubs are located in this old canal district, which is the favourite spot for Milan’s hip millennials and young professionals.

Nottingham Forest: (Viale Piave 1) One of the coolest bars in Milan, a bit further away from the chic fashion setting of the city centre.

Tripota Pub: (via Brioschi 32) A great little bar in the Naviglio area that oozes coolness and delights its patrons with an alternative atmosphere.

Spritz Navigli: (Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 9) a cozy, laidback bar with a nice terrace in the Naviglio district

Martini Bistrot Dolce & Gabbana (Corso Venezia 15): Fashion is omnipresent in Milan and it isn’t a big surprise that the large designers also opened bars. Most of them are a bit pretentious but the Dolce & Gabbana Bistrot is a truly great bar which it would also be without the name.

Naviglio district

 

Final tips & verdict:

Milan is expensive and touristy and the locals do not tend to mix with tourists in most places. The city is however a joy to behold when you find some of the hidden jewels in the Naviglio district, far away from the busy city centre. If you love fashion and style, you will obviously love Milan but there is a lot more to this city than well known international clothing brands.

The metro is the easiest way to get around and covers the whole city. Note that Milan has various large train stations, the biggest one being Milano Centrale, which have excellent connections towards the rest of Italy, Switzerland and France.

Read more articles on Italy here

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