The city on the Lombardy plains is beautiful, dynamic and very well dressed. It's a financial centre, a city of the arts, a sporting town and a world-famous fashion capital. Like other cities in Italy - Rome, Florence, Venice - one almost falls over the art works, the churches, museums and statues.
The spiky-spired, statue-laden cathedral (Duomo) occupies a central position in Milan - the streets fan out from there. No less impressive - a different type of church perhaps - is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This enormous shopping mall is home to the likes of Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton.
The fashion district takes in Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant'Andrea, Via della Spiga and Via Manzoni - all high-end. Milan is where several designers started out including Armani, Missoni, Valentino, Versace and Prada.
The other Milanese passion is football. Milan is home to two football teams - Inter FC and AC Milan. The San Siro is one of the temples of football.
With three airports in the vicinity - Malpensa, Linate and Orio al Serio Airport near Bergamo - searching for cheap flights to Milan is no hard task.
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Summers are hot and muggy, especially in July and August with temperatures reaching the 30s (Celsius). Milan is damp and cold in winter with temperatures below freezing, but the mountains protect the city from the Northern European winters. Spring and autumn temperatures are in the teens and 20s. October and November typically get the most rain.
When to fly to Milan
The Italians and foreign visitors descend on the lakes in July and August, especially on weekends. Lake Como is the most popular, and most crowded, destination. Many Milanese are on vacation for the month of August, but the city is filled with foreign visitors.
Spring into early summer and autumn are the best times to see Milan and the lakes while the weather is comfortable and there are few crowds. Keep in mind, before booking Milan flights, that many of the ferry services stop running in October and do not start back up again until May.
Getting around Milan
Between walking and using the city’s efficient public transport system, you won’t have any trouble getting around Milan. The buses and trams run all night long and the metro stops at midnight. Buy tickets at Metropolitana Milanese (MM) stations and some newspaper stands, but be aware that the tickets expire. Stamp your ticket when you board; failure to do so can cost you a huge fine.
Taxis have to be picked up at stands, and you will be charged extra for luggage, late night trips and Sunday rides. Driving is not recommended. There are many one-way streets and reckless drivers and few parking spots. If you must drive, leave the car at an MM station outside the city.
Milan insider information
- The quadrilatero della moda, made up of via Montenapoleone, via della Spiga, Sant’Andrea and via Manzoni is home to the high priests of fashion including Gucci, Moschino and Giorgio Armani. Those without gold cards can find last year's stock at Salvagente. Fashion houses in Milan include Versace, Roberto Cavalli and Giorgio Armani. And for more shopping, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a huge shopping arcade with cafés, restaurants, and shops.
- The Duomo (cathedral), in the centre of town, was started in the 14th century and only finished in the early 19th century – it has a mix of architectural styles. The views from the roof are beautiful and take in the city and the Alps.
- Leonardo da Vinci spent almost 20 years in Milan under the patronage of the Sforza family. His Last Supper fresco can be seen in the Church and Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie. He also worked on the city’s waterways, designing canals and locks. Although many of the navigli have long since been paved over, the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese are still operating. Where they meet, the Navigli district, is home to bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Visit in the early evening. The bars have free nibbles for a short time.
- La Scala opera house is world famous. Built in 1778, it has had a major renovation in the past couple of years. It has a museum, which has paintings, costumes, statues and other artifacts covering the opera house’s long history.