Milan is a singular city. The urban landscape is not dominated by monuments and works of art, as it is in Venice, Florence or Rome, but by the many faces of the city, which conceal many unique treasures and mysteries.
Milan is famous for fashion, for theatre and for the international scope of its trade fairs – and will become even more so in view of Expo 2015 – but to discover the city you must know where to look or simply wander around, venturing into the internal courtyards of the private palazzos in the city centre or visiting the numerous historic buildings that are open to the public.
At one time, Milan was a navigable city, full of canals and waterways (several of which are still uncovered and famous for their nightlife).
It was Leonardo Da Vinci, during his long stay in the city, who was responsible for improving the canals with a system of locks, while he worked on dozens of other works, including his famous fresco, The Last Supper.
Sights to see include the numerous masterpieces preserved in the museums (the Brera Picture Gallery, the Ambrosiano Museum, the Museum of Modern Art) and the wonderful Romanesque churches, such as the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio and the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio (which is said to hold the remains of the three Magi, brought by the Saint from Constantinople).
It is also advisable to visit the striking gothic structure of the Duomo, the age-old symbol of the city, and pass beneath the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele that leads to the Scala, the temple of opera and symphonic music.
Milan is not far from Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda, the Alps, the Ligurian Sea (90 minutes away) and Venice (a 2 ½ hour train journey).
Those who wish to sample Milanese nightlife can partake in the ritual of the aperitif (happy hour) in the city centre or by the Navigli canals, before moving on to the cinema, a club or a concert.
To find out what’s going on in the city on a daily basis you can consult Vivi Milano, (Italian text) published by the Milanese newspaper Il Corriere della Sera or Repubblica Milano, compiled by the Milanese editorial staff of the newspaper La Repubblica, which sometimes features a section known as “Centodieci”, dedicated entirely to university life in the city.