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The City of Milan

Milan may be Italy’s second city in terms of size but it is the most important for finance, banking and innovation. On the International scene, Milan is renowned the World over for its fashion industry and design. For those who don’t follow fashion, the city is well-know for being home to two world-class football teams - A.C. Milan and Inter Milan.



The origins of Milan go back to 400 B.C., when the Gauls settled and defeated the Etruscans. In 222 B.C. the city was conquered by Romans and was annexed to the Roman Empire. For about a century, Milan was the seat of the Western Roman emperors.


Its location in the north of Italy, as a gateway to the rest of Europe has consistently meant it was a prosperous trading town. 


In 1300 the Visconti family brought a period of glory and wealth to the city, building the Duomo (Cathedral) and the Castle. Their power was lost to the Sforza family, who invested heavily in the development of sciences, art and literature and many artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante, were brought to Milan to work with the Sforza Duchy.


For many centuries, Milan was under Spanish and then Austrian Habsburg rule. It successfully broke from Austrian rule in 1859 and joined the process of Italian unification that ended in 1870.


Following the Second World War, Milan was the centre of the Italian economic miracle - the boom years.


What to Do in Milan?

Attractions not to be missed in Milan are the Duomo - the third-largest cathedral in the world; the Sforza Castle, which was built in 1368 and later became an elegant and stunning Renaissance residence; Teatro alla Scala Opera House - completed in 1776 and hosting superb theatrical productions; and Santa Maria delle Grazie - an elaborate church dating back to 1463, home of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting 'The Last Supper'. Leonardo da Vinci's presence is also felt in Italy’s largest technology museum, the Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum. Here, amongst the museum’s large collections and exhibits is a gallery with Da Vinci’s drawings, and models of his inventions.


You can also enjoy many art galleries and museums, such as Pinacoteca di Brera Gallery - housing one of Italy's most important art collections; the Modern Art Gallery and La Triennale. The industrialisation of the city has also shaped the architectural skyline, which is reflected in many other architectural  highlights, including the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, "Milano Centrale" railway station and the iconic modernist Torre Velasca skyscraper.


If you have some time after the sessions, then you can have a stroll around the “Navigli” district, one of the most vibrant in the city boasting many restaurants, bars, and live music venues.  Moreover, the area is famed for its painters' studios and the typical Milanese houses “Case di Ringhiere”. The Navigli district is a few minutes walk from Bocconi University. Also not to be missed is a stroll around the Brera district, the famed antique area. With its hidden churches and cobbled-stoned streets, it really is a delightful area. If you plan to stay on for a few extra days after the Congress then we recommend discovering the areas around Porta Garibaldi and Porta Nuova, which are being built up in preparation for the ‘World Expo”, hosted by Milan in 2015.


Not to be forgotten too is that Milan is THE city of fashion, with shops to suit all tastes and budgets. Finally, the Milanese cuisine has much to offer and there are many restaurants offering classic Milanese dishes like risotto and much more too. Over the past few years, many international chefs have opened their doors in Milan so there is now a wide-variety of cuisine to be found.


Overall Milan really is an intriguing city that manages to blend history, art, fashion and fun perfectly.


If you have some extra time why not travel a little further afield and unwind for a few days? Lying at the foothills of The Alps, Milan is a stone’s throw away from the Italian lakes - Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, Lake Garda and the lesser known, but equally beautiful, Lake Orta and Lake Iseo. Moreover, the renowned Italian Riviera is only a one-hour drive away from Milan. 


Please do not be afraid to ask us or our student volunteers at the Registration and Information desk for tips on Milan.


Read more about Milan


Lonely Planet

Official tourist site of Milan




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