When Italians vacation within their own country, Milan is their number one choice. These are just some of the reasons why the capital of Lombardy makes an exceptional destination for local and international travelers.
It's One of the World's Fashion Capital
Image via Flickr by MacBeales
The uninitiated might declare Paris the world's fashion capital, but those in the know insist Milan takes the crown. The city nurtured the talents of some of the world's leading designers; Valentino, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, and Prada all have flagship stores in the exclusive Via Montenapoleone and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II areas. These stores command big prices, so be prepared to spend high or stick to window shopping. GoDoTrip's Milan city guide notes there are outlet stores around the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which offer designer goods for a fraction of their original prices.
Alternatively, head to Corso Buenos Aires, the Duomo area, and Via Torino. These areas have stores with more affordable fashion items for chic shoppers on a budget.
It's Rich in History
Founded around 400 B.C., Milan has a rich history that makes visiting a real joy. You don't need to be an architecture buff to be spellbound by beautiful Milanese buildings like the Chiesa Santa Maria Della Grazie and 15th-century buildings such as the Castello Sforzesco and the Parco Sempione. Even the workers' houses in the Navigli neighborhood and Art Nouveau buildings in Porta Venezia are impressive.
Milan also has a strong artistic heritage, contributing to key movements from the Gothic Art of the 14th century to Futurism in the early 20th century. This city is most famously home to “Last Supper,” one of Leonardo da Vinci's most celebrated works of art. But you'll also find pieces from Italian masters like Umberto Boccioni, Lucio Fontana, Raphael, and Michelangelo at local galleries.
Its Food Is Some of Italy's Best
Milanese food is some of the most acclaimed in Italian cuisine. Dishes like risotto alla Milanese, a rice dish made with saffron and often served with ossobuco, and cotoletta alla Milanese, a breaded veal cutlet, should be familiar to you, but most American chefs don't make them the way Italians do.
Milan also has several culinary local secrets worth discovering while you're visiting. The city is famous for stews like cassouela, made from Savoy cabbage and pig offcuts like ears and tails, and buseca, made from garbanzo beans, tripe, and tomato sauce. These peasant dishes aren't made with the most expensive proteins, but they're surprisingly tasty. Make sure you save space for dessert; Milan is famous for gelato, flaky cannoncino, and the festive dish panettone.
It's Not as Touristy as Other Italian Hotspots
One of the key reasons Milan is so popular with Italians is that it's less touristy than Rome, Venice, and Florence. If you prefer sightseeing without the crowds and authentic Italian restaurants that don't pander to foreigners, you'll appreciate Milan. This is the kind of city that lets you experience life as a local rather than a wide-eyed outsider.
While its most popular attractions can be seen in a day, there's so much more to Milan than world-renowned sights. Take your time to discover all this northern Italian city has to offer.