Milan City Guide

Milan is the second largest city in Italy. It is the capital of the province of the same name and also of the Lombardy region. The city is the financial and industrial center of the country. Tourists go there mainly for shopping, but the city also has many tourist attractions including the famous cathedral.

All about Milan (travel guide)

Useful tourist information

Province: Milan. Region: Lombardy. Zip code: From 20121 to 20162. Area code: (+39) 02. City hall: Piazza della Scala, 2 – 20121 Milano. Tourist office: InfoMilano – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (at the corner of Piazza della Scala). Tel. +390288455555. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 19:00; Saturday from 09:00 to 18:00; Sundays and holidays from 10:00 to 18:00 (Closed on December 25, January 1 and May 1).

Public transport and driving directions

By car: Milan is connected to the main Italian cities by a number of freeways, the A4 leads to Venice, the A1 to Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples, the A7 to Genoa and the A8 to the lake district north of the city.

Public transportation to/from Milan: In and around the city there are three airports, Malpensa, Linate and Orio al Serio. From the central station there are direct train connections to all major Italian cities. In addition to the Stazione Centrale, there are train stations of various sizes.

Public transportation within the city: Public transportation in Milan consists of a network of metro, street car and bus lines.

More detailed Milan public transport information.

Milan Tourist attractions

Main squares

Cathedral Milan
Cathedral (Duomo)

The Piazza Duomo is the central square of Milan. It has an area of 17 thousand square meters. The main attractions of this square are the facade of the Duomo itself and the central statue of Vittorio Emanuele II.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" in Milan.
Leonardo’s “Last Supper”

The Cathedral and Sant’Ambrogio Basilica are the two most important churches in the city. Other major attractions include the Brera Pinacotheque and the Castello Sforzesco.

The Piazza Mercanti is located immediately west of Piazza Duomo. It constitutes one of the best illustrations of Milanese architecture from the Middle Ages to the 17th century.

The most famous work of art in Milan is Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in the Santa Maria delle Grazie Convent.

The San Lorenzo Maggiore Basilica is especially famous for the Sant’Aquilina Chapel. The San Simpliciano Basilica is one of the oldest churches in the city, while the Chiaravalle Abbey is one of the oldest Gothic buildings.

The Archaeological Museum is located partly in a former monastery and partly in the Castello Sforza. The Cimitero Monumentale (“Monumental Cemetery”) is not a museum, but could actually be labeled one.

The Sant’Eustorgio Basilica is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

The Ca’ Granda is an old hospital converted into a university seat.

Milan is a business city and maybe because of that there is an abundance of modern architecture.

The Milanese square most often mentioned on the news is Piazza Affari. It is, as its name suggests, the financial center of the city. The most important building in the square is the Palazzo Mezzanotte, the seat of the Italian stock exchange.

Shopping

Milan boasts one of the most impressive and famous shopping galleries in the world with the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

A brief history of Milan

Milan’s history begins even before its conquest by the Romans. A key event was the signing of the Edict of Milan (313). After World War II, the city experienced tremendous growth.

Early history

The first settlement on the site existed around the year 600 BC. The founders were part of a tribe called the Insubres. Mediolanum, as it was called then, was the capital of this tribe’s territory.

The Romans conquered the city in the year 222 BC.

An important moment in world history took place here in the year 313, when Emperor Constantine signed the Edict of Milan.

Under Emperor Theodosius I, Milan was for a while the capital of the Western Roman Empire.

In the mid-5th century, the city was sacked by Attila and the Huns. Towards the end of the same century, the region was occupied by the Ostrogoths.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

The Lombards took over the area in the year 568. Thpresence of this people lives on in the name Lombardy.

In the 11th century, Milan was the leader of a number of cities that achieved a reasonable degree of independence from the Roman Empire.

Between 1346 and 1351, a major plague epidemic, called the Black Death, took place in almost all of Europe. Milan managed to protect itself from it by bricking up infected houses, with the inhabitants inside them.

During the Renaissance period, the Visconti and the Sforza were the most powerful families in Milan. At the behest of these families, many historical buildings and churches were decorated by artists such as Bramante and Leonardo Da Vinci.

In 1500, the French king Louis XII conquered the city. Later rulers were Spain and Austria.

From the 19th century onwards

After the fall of Napoleon (early 19th century), a period of nationalism began on the peninsula. Milan was one of the most important cities in this resistance. In 1859, the city was liberated and the new state of Italy was founded two years later.

Between 1943 and 1945, the repeatedly bombed city was occupied by the Germans.

Milan’s industrial boom caused many Italians from the poor south to settle in the city.

Curiosities

The original name of Milan was Mediolanum, a Latinised version of a Celtic word meaning “land between the rivers”.

Milan, Lombardy

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