Gallery
  • Photo: Rostislav Glinsky / Shutterstock

Plan Your Milan Vacation

Milan is Italy's business hub and crucible of chic. Between the Po's rich farms and the industrious mountain valleys, it’s long been the country's capital of commerce, finance, fashion, and media. Rome may be bigger and have the political power, but Milan and the affluent north are what really make the country go. It's also Italy's transport hub, with the biggest international airport, the most rail connections, and the best subway system. Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper and other great works of art are here, as well as a spectacular Gothic Duomo, the finest of its kind. Milan even reigns supreme where it really counts (in the minds of many Italians), routinely trouncing the rest of the nation with its two premier soccer teams.

And yet, Milan hasn't won the battle for hearts and minds when it comes to tourism. Most visitors prefer Tuscany's hills and Venice's canals to Milan's hectic efficiency and wealthy indifference, and it's no surprise that in a country of medieval hilltop villages and skilled artisans a city of grand boulevards and global corporations leaves visitors asking the real Italy to please stand up. They're right, of course: Milan is more European than Italian, a new buckle on an old boot, and although its old city can stand cobblestone for cobblestone against the best of them, seekers of Roman ruins and fairy-tale towns may pass. But Milan's secrets reveal themselves slowly to those who look. A side street conceals a garden complete with flamingos (Giardini Invernizzi, on Via dei Cappuccini, just off Corso Venezia; closed to the public, but you can still catch a glimpse), and a renowned 20th-century art collection hides modestly behind an unspectacular facade a block from Corso Buenos Aires (the Casa-Museo Boschi di Stefano). Visitors lured by the world-class shopping will appreciate Milan's European sophistication while discovering unexpected facets of a country they may have only thought they knew.

Virtually every invader in European history—Gaul, Roman, Goth, Lombard, and Frank—as well as a long series of rulers from France, Spain, and Austria, took a turn at ruling the city. After being completely sacked by the Goths in AD 539 and by the Holy Roman Empire under Frederick Barbarossa in 1157, Milan became one of the first independent city-states of the Renaissance. Its heyday of self-rule proved comparatively brief. From 1277 until 1500 it was ruled first by the Visconti and then the Sforza dynasties. These families were known, justly or not, for a peculiarly aristocratic mixture of refinement, classical learning, and cruelty; much of the surviving grandeur of Gothic and Renaissance art and architecture is their doing. Be on the lookout in your wanderings for the Visconti family emblem—a viper, its jaws straining wide, devouring a child.

Read More

Restaurants

View All (18)

Hotels

View All (14)

Sights

View All (25)

Shopping

View All (29)

Nightlife

View All (14)

Performing Arts

View All (4)

Sports and Activities

View All (2)

Top Reasons To Go

  1. Milan alla moda As you window-shop the afternoon away in Milan’s Quadrilatero shopping district, catch a glimpse of fashion’s latest trends.
  2. A night at La Scala What the Louvre is to art, Milan’s La Scala is to the world of opera.
  3. Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper Behold one of the world’s most famous works of art for yourself at the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent.
  4. Milan’s Duomo The magnificent Gothic cathedral of 135 marble spires and over 2,000 statues is a wonder to behold.
  5. Interior design While the Salone del Mobile, Milan’s furniture fair, is strictly for professionals, the hip designs are everywhere in this capital of modern furniture.

Advertisement

Book A Hotel
Trending Stories
Trip Finder
Store
Guidebooks

Fodor's Milan 25 Best

View Details
Travel Phrases

Learn Italian Phrases before or while you're on the go!

Download Now

No Thanks