Features: City Hotels, Fitness Center, Leading Small, City Center, Children's Programs, Banquets, Business Meetings, Spa, High-Speed Internet Access, On-Site Fitness Center Situated in the vibrant heart of the city’s shopping, business and cultural centre, the hotel faces right onto the most famous fashion street of Milan, Via della Spiga. It is just a stone’s throw from...
Milan (Milano), situated on the flat plains of the Po Valley, is the capital of Lombardy and thoroughly enjoys its hard-earned role as Italy's richest and second largest city. Wealthy and cosmopolitan, the Milanesi enjoy a reputation as successful businesspeople, equally at home overseas and in Italy. Embracing tradition, sophistication and ambition in equal measure, they are just as likely to follow opera at La Scala as their shares on the city's stock market or AC or Inter at the San Siro Stadium.
Three times in its history, the city had to rebuild after being conquered. Founded in the seventh century BC by Celts, the city, then known as Mediolanum (‘mid-plain'), was first sacked by the Goths in the 600s (AD), then by Barbarossa in 1157 and finally by the Allies in WWII, when over a quarter of the city was flattened. Milan successively reinvented herself under French, Spanish and then Austrian rulers from 1499 until the reunification of Italy in 1870. It is a miracle that so many historic treasures still exist, including Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, which survived a direct hit in WWII.
The Milanesi's appreciation of tradition includes a singular respect for religion; they even pay a special tax towards the cathedral maintenance. It is therefore fitting that the city's enduring symbol is the gilded statue of the Virgin, on top of the cathedral (Il Duomo).
Milan is founded around a historic nucleus radiating from the cathedral, with a star-shaped axis of arteries spreading through modern suburbs to the ring road. The modern civic centre lies to the northwest, around Mussolini's central station, and is dominated by the Pirelli skyscraper, which dates from 1956. The trade and fashion fairs take place in the Fiera district, west of the nucleus around the Porta Genova station.
Milan's economic success was founded at the end of the 19th century, when the metal factories and the rubber industries moved in, replacing agriculture and mercantile trading as the city's main sources of income. Milan's position at the heart of a network of canals, which provided the irrigation for the Lombard plains and the important trade links between the north and south, became less important as industry took over - and the waterways were filled. A few canals remain in the Navigli district near the Bocconi University, a fashionable area in which to drink and listen to live music.
Since the 1970s, Milan has remained the capital of Italy's automobile industry and its financial markets, but the limelight is dominated by the fashion houses, who, in turn, have drawn media and advertising agencies to the city. Milan remains the marketplace for Italian fashion - fashion aficionados, supermodels and international paparazzi descend upon the city twice a year for its spring and autumn fairs. Valentino, Versace and Armani may design and manufacture their clothes elsewhere, but Milan, which has carefully guarded its reputation for flair, drama and creativity, is Italy's natural stage.
The APTInformationOffice, Via Marconi 1 (tel: 02 7252 4301), runs a walking tour every Monday, from the APT office. The three-hour tour takes in the city centre and includes entrance to the Scala. Private guided tours also can be booked from the Centro Guide Turistiche di Milano, Via Marconi 1 (tel: 02 8645 0433).
The only way visitors can see Leonardo da Vinci’s TheLastSupper without having advance reservations is to take the three-hour APT bus tour (tel: 02 7252 4300). Advance reservations for the bus tour are not possible – visitors should simply turn up at the tourist information office on Via Marconi 1, off Piazza del Duomo, beforehand and buy tickets prior to departure. The tour lasts three hours and includes the Cathedral, Sforza Castle and entrances to TheLastSupper, the Brera National Gallery and the Scala Museum.
Reproductions of sepia photographs showing Milan’s trams are common in Milan’s bars and restaurants. One of the more charming ways to get to know the city centre is by taking the restored 1920s no. 20 tram managed by the private company STAB (tel: 02 3391 0794; website: www.atm-mi.it/eng/tempoli/turisti/ptemplis.htm). The tram departs from Piazza Castello on a circuit that takes just under two hours. It is an ideal form of transport for getting to the Cathedral, TheLastSupper, the Piazza della Scala and the Brera. The two-hour tour price includes stops but does not include entrance to any attraction.