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Milan is Italy’s fashion capital, and provides the perfect blend of sophisticated shopping and historic architecture. It’s a classy place, with a heritage-rich centre packed with attractions, ranging from the immense Gothic Duomo di Milano and world-renowned galleries, to churches showcasing iconic artworks like Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
Cuisine is also an important part of Milan’s heritage, with the delicious panettone bread first being baked here, and dozens of world-class restaurants operating today, several with Michelin stars.
However, it is fashion rather than history that arguably forms the cornerstone to Milan’s modern-day success. One of the world’s first shopping malls – the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II – was opened here, so it’s no surprise that Milan has gone on to become one of the world’s leading fashion hotspots. Host to the world-famous Milan Fashion Week, the city is an enigmatic mix of style and substance that’s ready and waiting for you to strut your stuff.
The Piazza del Duomo is one of the liveliest piazzas in Europe, and dominated by the stunning Gothic cathedral, the Duomo di Milano. The cafes, restaurants and small boutiques of the Galleria Vittoro Emanuele II are just a short walk away. This magnificent 18th-century glass and iron-covered gallery also houses top designer shops, from Gucci to Prada. The 18th-century high temple of opera, Teatro alla Scala, opened in 1778 and has attracted some of the world's best singers. Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece The Last Supper covers a wall in the former dining hall of the monastery attached to the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie and is well worth a look.
Direct flights to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) are available from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and Manchester and take approximately 2 hours.
Milan is a year-round destination and there are benefits to travelling in every season, from the pleasant temperatures of spring and summer to the festive charms of December. There's plenty happening in this bustling city with major international events taking place throughout the year, including fashion shows, concerts, sporting events and exhibitions. If you're not planning to visit for a specific event it's worth considering being flexible with your dates as sometimes going a few days sooner or later can result in lower hotel prices.
Milan isn't typically thought of as the gastronomic capital of Italy. However, Milan's traditional cuisine has earned the city its own rights as a destination to visit for fine wine and delicious dishes. It's famed for its risotto alla Milanese, a warm, hearty dish that can be enjoyed in the winter months. Make sure you don't leave Milan without trying cotolette alla Milanese (breaded veal cutlet), either.
Today the capital of Lombardy, Milan was conquered by the Romans around the 3rd century AD and made capital of the Western Roman Empire. The empire’s commercial and banking centre, Milan was conquered and changed hands often throughout the Middle Ages, eventually joining the Kingdom of Italy in 1859, leading the nation’s industrialisation. Milan emerged as a major world fashion and design capital throughout the 20th century, with a great number of museums, theatres, cultural institutions and universities cementing the city as Italy’s commercial, industrial and financial centre.