Milan is the undisputed business
capital of Italy, it's the place where deals are made and is home
to Italy's stock exchange. Milan was once famous as the Roman stronghold
of Mediolanum, but having been subject to many successive powers,
endured fascism and allied bombing, is like many important cities
having had to be reconstructed many times over. It's now a slightly
austere but very handsome city with a vibrant atmosphere and many
Milan's fashion industry has put it on the map as a sophisticated
city, from where it's possible to rest before heading further north,
or to the Alps, or to Lake Como. It's a perfect place for a weekend
or romantic break and there is no excuse when it is so easy to find flights to Milan.
The Duomo, in Piazza del Duomo,
remains Italy's most famous unfinished masterpiece. Work began in
1386 under the instruction of Gian Galeazzo Visconti and still continues
today. It's considered Europe's biggest Gothic cathedral. Climb
up to the Duomo's roof to enjoy the view over the city to the mountains,
or rest at its feet in one of many cafés admiring the fashionable
and chic who wander by.
The Pinacoteca di Brera houses one of Italy's
finest art collections with works by Mantegna, Raphael and Piero
della Francesca. The Cenacolo Vinciano houses Leonardo da Vinci's
Opera is a national passion and is celebrated
by the Milanese with typical Italian fervour. La Scala's season
traditionally opens on St Ambrose day (the city's patron saint),
7 December, and will run until July.
The Ticinese is the most atmospheric quarter of
Milan, the Navigli is the most youthful and bohemian (like Paris's
left bank), the canal quarter has some excellent markets and you'll find many of the grandest Milan hotels in the station quarter.