The first settlements of the city date back to the 6th century BC, probably due to the Celts. Then known as Mediolanum, literally “the land in the middle,” Milan became an important Roman town, was conquered by the Barbarians, and later went through different dominations. An interesting fact is that Milan is probably the Italian city that has evolved the most. While it now looks like a 21st century city, beneath its surface there are countless precious treasures from its glorious past. Roman ruins, beautiful Medieval churches, masterpieces from the Renaissance, and buildings designed by the greatest contemporary architects, all merge together, though often they are not easily noticed. Expert tip: Check the beautiful gardens and courts concealed inside the buildings. Through the fences of the private Villa Invernizzi, for example, you can see a colony of pink flamingos!If you make the effort, wonderful surprises are waiting for you in Milan!
As well as being one of the most important international fashion hubs, Milan is also the capital of fashion and design in Italy. With King Giorgio Armani, among others, still working in town, young designers making their debuts, and two Fashion Weeks each year, the city shows no signs of slowing down. While via Montenapoleone and via della Spiga are the celebrated streets of luxury, there are a lot of places you should go for shopping, from outlets to High-Street stores, from neighbourhood markets to charming boutiques. While in town, you can also take a “vasca” (stroll back and forth) along crowded shopping streets such as Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Buenos Aires. You will learn two important things about the Milanese. First, people come here from nearly everywhere. While the Milanese might not appear as fun and friendly as the Romans or the Neapolitans, they are quite open-minded, and everybody is welcome in their city. Second, people here are always running. Not because they are anxious: it is probably because they are always ready to see or do something better. Be prepared for a very dynamic trip! Expert tip: If you happen to be in Milan the last Sunday of the month, visit the Navigli Market; it is full of nice antiques.
It’s an ongoing debate - was the aperitivo invented in Turin or in Milan? (In reality Turin seems to be the winner). Whatever the answer, it's Milan that turned this custom into a phenomenon. Be sure you take your time and try aperitivo, because it is an authentic experience and part of our weekly routine. The most popular areas for enjoying a nice aperitivo are Navigli and Brera, but Isola and Porta Venezia are also perfect choices. Select a nice bar there, between 12 and 1 PM or 6 and 8 PM, grab a drink and live the atmosphere. There are typically two different options: some places offer the Italian version of Happy Hour, with huge buffet of cold and hot food that you can have for free with your drink, while other bars serve snacks at the table (mostly olives, salami or ham, little pizzas, etc). Occasionally the aperitivo even substitutes as dinner, but either way it is a beautiful way to start your Milanese evening. Expert tip: The typical drink for a Milanese aperitivo is Negroni sbagliato, which was invented in town 40 years ago.
Not only a monument, the Duomo is a symbol of Milan and its spirit. For more than seven centuries, the most famous church in town has been built and decorated. Construction started in 1386, over previous ancient churches, and the work basically never ended - in progress always, just as the entire city. It’s for this reason the Duomo reveals the true spirit of the city: always changing, never still. We say that people in Milan can't stay “con le mani in mano”, they are always doing something. And, if not, they are probably celebrating what they have done so far. If all these reasons weren't enough for you, the Duomo is also very beautiful, and the view from the top, near the Madonnina, among the “guglie”, is absolutely stunning. As an added bonus, due to the Expo, 2015 will maybe be the first moment in years in which you can admire the Duomo entirely, without a scaffolding covering one of its parts. Expert tip: Listen to the most famous Milanese traditional song, “Oh mia bela Madunina”, dedicated to the golden statue.
Even if an old prejudice saying that Milan has little to offer lives on, it is clear that the city is full of beautiful opportunities for visitors, which can’t help but be marvelled at every visitor who spends a few days in the city. We cannot avoid mentioning Expo, which runs from May 1 until October 30, and from what we can see, is going to have a huge impact on Milan. While some areas of the city have already been deeply changed by Expo, many events will be taking place in the coming months, with visitors arriving from across the globe. Milan will find its moment of public glory in front of the world, taking its revenge on the naysayers and finally showing itself in all its splendour. Finally, the secret of Milan is out! Expert tip: Take a look at the Porta Nuova area and at the splendid architecture of Bosco Verticale, designed by Boeri Studio, which according to the International Highrise Award is the most beautiful skyscraper in the world.