Founded under the name of Medhlan by the Celtic people, Milan was captured by the Romans in 222BC and became very successful under the Roman Empire. Later it was ruled by the Visconti, the Sforza, the Spanish in the 16th century and the Austrians in the 18th century. Conquered by Napoleon 1 in 1796, he made Milan the capital of his Kingdom of Italy in 1805. During World War 2 the city was bombed by the Allies and, after German occupation in 1943, Milan became the hub of the Italian resistance. Since the War, Milan has prospered, becoming the world's 26th richest region by purchasing power. Today it is Italy's main industrial and financial centre.
Milan is ideal for city breaks - not just for the sights but also for simply taking part in the chic lifestyle full of pleasure… shopping, dining, nightlife, enjoying world class opera and even the football. The Lombard metropolis is very well known for top brand fashion houses and shops. The magnificent and colossal Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, filled with luxurious shops such as Armani, Ferragamo, Gucci and Prada, is reputed to be the world's oldest shopping mall. Milan hosts some of Italy's finest cultural, educational and artistic institutions. The home of composer Verdi, Milan is well known for theatres, museums, universities, palaces and churches. Teatro Alla Scala is considered to be one of the world's most prestigious opera houses. Other things to do in Milan include enjoying famous local dishes such as the Panettone Christmas cake and Risotto alla Milanese.
Key Milan tourist attractions include: The Duomo Cathedral and Piazza, the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (featuring Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper), Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the impressive Castello Sforzesco and world renowned opera house, Teatro Alla Scala
Milan is located in Northern Italy in the Padan Plain, 122 metres above sea level. The climate is temperate and typical of inland Italy.
Milan has many hidden delights, testifying to the city's dramatic history. Seen as a modern city due to extensive bombing in World War 2, there are still numerous architectural gems you can discover on your Milan city break. Start with the most important example of Gothic architecture in Italy: The Duomo Cathedral, the 4th largest cathedral in the world. It hosts the world's largest collection of marble statues. In the 14th and 15th centuries the Sforza family enlarged and embellished the old Visconti fortress, creating the Castello Sforzesco. Renaissance architecture influenced Milanese building, such as the Santa Maria Delle Grazie and Santa Maria presso San Satiro. Maria Theresa of Austria created numerous significant buildings such as the Teatro alla Scala in 1778. Under Napoleon, there was a strong neoclassical influence; many buildings and edifices were created included the Villa Reale (home to Josephine Bonaparte). In the 19th century, now with the status of a major industrial city, Milan drew inspiration from other European capitals and created monumental buildings such as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, named after the first King of united Italy. The Stazione Centrale train station was built in the 20th century, where Art Deco and the Fascist style of architecture are evident.
Supermodels, fashion aficionados and the international paparazzi flock to Milan in the Spring and Autumn for the fashion fairs. Il Salone Exibition celebrates Italian design, art and culture every April.
Visiting and travelling around the city to see Milan's tourist attractions is easy. Five major train stations include high-speed lines to Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Turin. The local public transport system includes the Milan Metro and trams, trolley-bus and bus lines. There are also taxis. Milan also has two airports: Linate within the city and Malpensa International 50km away (connected via an Express railway service). Orio al Serio airport near Bergamo, is also useful for visiting Milan.