The bustling metropolis of Milan is the capital of the northern Lombardy region and the second most-populous city in Italy. The city proper is home to over 1.3 million people, while the extended urban area has closer to 5.3 million residents.
Beyond the official city limits, the metropolitan region extends across central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont, encompassing a total of 7.5 million residents in what is known as “Greater Milan”. This makes it the largest metropolitan area in Italy, the fourth biggest city area in the European Union and the third major European economy in terms of GDP, after Paris and London.
What happens in Milan?
Milan is steeped in history, culture and creativity, so the better question might be: what doesn’t happen in Milan?
As much as it is recognised for leading the way in the art and design industries, Milan is also known for its strengths in commerce, education, research and cuisine. La Scala, the world’s most famous opera house, can be found in Milan, as well as Italy’s largest-capacity football ground, the San Siro Stadium (home to the A.C. Milan and Inter Milan teams). Exceptional galleries host world-famous masterpieces, and stunning examples of Gothic and Baroque architecture can be found all over the city.
Milan is also considered the fashion capital of the world. Many of the top Italian fashion houses have headquarters in Milan (including Versace, Prada, Gucci, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana), and the twice-yearly Milan Fashion Week is one of the most pivotal events in the industry. All of these labels – along with clothing from top international designers – can be found in the most prestigious shopping district, Quadrilatero della moda (or Via Montenapoleone).
Weather in Milan
Milan has hot, humid summers that can reach 35°C, and cold, moist winters that often result in sub-zero temperatures during the day.
Travellers should prepare for the occasional fog that shrouds the city during the colder months, although the nearby Alps and Apennine Mountains prevent much actual rainfall in Milan, rewarding it with one of the lowest precipitation rates in Europe.
Getting Around Milan
Transport around Milan and the wider region is convenient, and the city offers excellent opportunities for travelling to southern Italy or into the neighbouring countries of France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
The Metro is Italy’s longest rapid transit system and, in conjunction with the suburban railway network, makes travel around the city almost effortless. Plus, Milan’s tram network is considered the most advanced light rail system in Europe, with 17 different lines covering over 160 kilometres of track.
If you want to go further afield, you can find numerous long-distance buses to take you into Lombardy and other regions of Italy. High-speed rail reaches Rome, Naples and Turin (with further routes into Genoa and Verona currently under construction), and direct routes link Milan with major cities such as Paris, Nice, Bern, Basel, Zurich and Frankfurt.
In addition to Malpensa Airport, Milan is served by Linate (mainly used for short-haul and domestic flights) and Orio al Serio airport.