Milan is the engine room of the countryâ€™s economy and home of its stock exchange, but definitively isnâ€™t driven by tourism. That said, treasures that survived WWIIâ€™s extensive damage include its elaborate cathedral, Leonardo da Vinciâ€™s The Last Supper, La Scala opera house and Castello Sforzesco. What really sets Milan apart, though, is its creative streak.
Armani, Versace, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Pucci and many others first took off on Milanâ€™s runways. Fashionistas make a pilgrimage here to shop at the designersâ€™ flagship stores in the Quadrilatero dâ€™Oro (Golden Quad). Boutiques stocking emerging labels, and chic concept shops also line the cityâ€™s streets, while discount outlets selling samples, seconds and last seasonâ€™s styles can be a bargain-hunterâ€™s Holy Grail. Milan is also the world capital of furniture and homewares, and a hub for risk-taking contemporary art. By night thereâ€™s an avant-garde theatre scene and many hip, hot clubs.
Fashion and finance aside, Milanâ€™s other religion is soccer. The city is home to both AC Milan and Inter, two of Italyâ€™s top teams, and very passionate crowds pack San Siro stadium on Sunday in season.
Must See: Surveying the city from the Duomo roof is out top must see activity, and is kind of a no-brainer, because the famous Duomo in Milan is the center of tourist activity in the city. But while a visit to the interior is easy and free, not everyone knows that you can take an elevator up and walk around on the cathedralâ€™s roof. Milan is notoriously smoggy, so even on a clear day youâ€™re not guaranteed a good view of the nearby mountains, but there is almost no better way to spend an hour in Milan (especially if youâ€™re limited for time) than by wandering around on top of the Duomo. If you think all those spires look impressive from the ground, youâ€™ll be thrilled to walk around with them within reach.
Lodging: As with any city of its size, Milan has hundreds of various hotel options that the typical private jet charter to Milan would favor. A couple of our favorites are the Carlton Hotel Baglioni, found in the very heart of Milan and the crossroads of culture, fashion and design, overlooking Via della Spiga â€“ the most celebrated shopping street in the city, as well as the Grand Hotel Et De Milan, a 5 star deluxe property also located in the heart of Milan, near La Scala theater, Duomo cathedral and the main shopping and business districts. This boutique hotel offers a rich history that is unmatched in Milan.
Ground Transportation: Milan is one of southern Europe's key transport nodes and one of Italy's most important railway hubs. Its five major railway stations, among which the Milan Central station, are among Italy's busiest. Since the end of 2009, two high speed train lines link Milan to Rome, Naples and Turin, considerably shortening travel times with other major cities in Italy. Milan Metro is the rapid transit system serving the city, and there are excellent tram and trolley-bus services throughout most of the city. Car rental and executive ground transportation options are also quite convenient, as the city is also a key node for the national road network, being served by all the major highways of Northern Italy.
Recommended Books: In Another Country, Ernest Hemingway, (1927). The book centers around the difficulties and existential struggles surrounding the lives of a wounded American soldier, recuperating from his wartime injuries in Milan, and his soldier companions in the infirmary. This powerful novel explores the depths of loss, our roles in society, and finding purpose in life, while the only constant for these characters is the fact that "the war was always there."
Currency: The Euro is the local currency
Calling Code Milan: 011 + 39 + 2 + number
Best Travel Dates and Packing Tips: The best times to visit Milan are April to May or late September to October. These spring and fall months straddle the city's manic peak season, and escape the summer's scalding temperatures. The peak season of June to early September is hot and humid, with average highs in the mid-80s F. August is an especially good time to avoid since many shopkeepers and hoteliers head out on vacation themselves. Fall is also a great time to visit. High average temperatures drop into the 70s in September and then the 60s by October, giving visitors a hospitable climate to tour the city. Bring a warm coat for Milan's foggy and cold wintertime.