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  • Italy
  • Milan
  • 181,76km²
  • Mediterranean
  • (GMT+2)
  • Euro
  • Italian
  • 1,368,590
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General Information About Milan

Milan, Italian Milano, city, capital of Milano province (provincia) and of the region (regione) of Lombardy (Lombardia), northern Italy. It is the leading financial centre and the most prosperous manufacturing and commercial city of Italy.

The destiny of Milan, like that of many of the world’s great cities, remains something of a historical paradox. There are powerful factors supporting the argument that Milan should have become the capital of a unified Italy, and this is the belief of many Milanese, in spite of the fact that the unity of Italy was actually born in Turin, rather than in Milan, in 1870. Milan, nevertheless, is the most industrious and vital city to have achieved prominence since the ancient land of Italy became aware of itself as a modern nation-state. Area city, 70 square miles (182 square km); province, 765 square miles (1,980 square km). Pop. (2001) city, 1,256,211; province, 3,707,210; (2007 est.) city, 1,303,437; province, 3,884,481.

Character of the city

The fact that Milan is at a distance from much of the rest of Italy, that it is peripheral in a geographic sense, does not explain its position of “second city,” a position it has always vainly fought. Indeed, some of the greatest European capitals are peripheral in this sense. Rather, Milan’s role was the consequence of the immense historical importance and the enormous accumulation of myths and symbols that conferred on Milan’s antagonist, Rome, an inevitable prestige. During the Risorgimento, the 19th-century movement for Italian unification, Rome became the heart of a future anticipated in the collective fantasies of the Italian people.

Yet although Rome remains the political capital of Italy, Milan has long been known as its “moral capital.” When the Milanese assert that their city is the moral capital, they not only express the ancient regionalism typical of all Italy and known as campanilismo (a reference to the church bell of each city), but they also refer to the city’s quality and values, historical as well as contemporary. And if the rest of Italy, Rome included, accepts this statement-or rather accepts the fact that the statement is made-it is because it is more than a simple claim. The claim is justified by contributions in every field-economic, cultural, and ideological-that the city of Milan, in modern times, and particularly since the unification of Italy, has made to the Italian state.

The city

Milan, the capital of Lombardy, has a population of 1.3 million people. It is the biggest industrial city of Italy with many different industrial sectors. It is a magnetic point for designers, artists, photographers and models. Milan has an ancient city centre with high and interesting buildings and palazzos, which is why so many people from all over the world want to see the city of glamour.


Italy's climate is predominantly Mediterranean: Alpine in the far north; hot and dry in the south. Winter in Milan is relatively mild but foggy, with temperatures ranging from zero to 8 degrees Celsius. Summer can be very humid with brief thunderstorms; temperatures range from 14 to 29 degrees. From March through April temperatures range from 6 to 18 degrees. From October through November they range from 6 to 17 degrees.


Milan’s origin goes back to 400 B.C., when Gauls settled and defeated the Etruscans.

In 222 B.C. the city was conquered by Romans and was annexed to the Roman Empire. After 313 A.D., the year of the Edict of Tolerance towards Christianity, many churches were built and the first bishop was appointed: Ambrogio was such an influential person that the church became the Ambrosian Church (7 December is a holiday to honour Sant’Ambrogio). In 1300 the Visconti family which are noblemen from Bergamo, Cremona, Piacenza, Brescia and Parma ruled and brought a period of glory and wealth to the city. The Duomo was built in 1386 and became the symbol of Milan.

The Sforza family assumed the Castle and the power of the Visconti family and finally Milan achieved peace after many years of war against Venice and Florence. Under the Sforza duchy the city began the development of sciences, art and literature. Ludovico il Moro (Ludovico Sforza) called Leonardo da Vinci and “il Bramante” to his court. For further information see history.

Art & Culture

Art and culture in the city of Milan

Milan has always been a rich and important city. It has always been a place full of various famous artists and offers a particular assortment of churches, buildings and monuments. There was a change of culture and art in the Renaissance with big a contribution in the period of the neoclassicism. Milan offers a big variety of buildings, monuments and museums. The most important church is the Cathedral which is the third largest church in the world.

It is overall made of marble, with immense statues, arches, pillars, pinnacles. From the roof you can experience a beautiful panorama of the city. Santa Maria delle Grazie was built between 1466 and 1490 and modified by Bramante. In the Refectory there is one of the most famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci: the “Last Supper”. Milan has many historic palazzos like the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) which is situated in the south side of Piazza Duomo. The Sforza Castle is one of the symbols of Milan together with the Madonnina and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. All those sights together are just few reasons for a visit. See art and culture section.

Economy in Milan the city of business

Milan is the centre of many financial businesses, and its so called 'hinterland' is an avant-garde industrial area.

Fiera Milano, the city's Exhibition Center and Trade Fair complex is one of the most important in the world. The new fairground, in the north-western suburb of Pero and Rho (opened in April 2005) is Europe's largest open construction project and makes Fiera Milano the largest trade fair complex in the world.

It is the biggest industrial city of Italy with many different industrial sectors as manufacturing of textiles and garments, car manufactory, chemistry, mechanical tools and heavy machinery. Another important industry is tourism and of course fashion. Have a look at economy of Milan.

Events in Milan to know more about the city

Events & Folkloristic

Festival of Sant’Ambrogio takes place once a year, on 7 December. Milan celebrates its saint who is Saint Ambrose (Sant’Ambrogio). This day, the day of Saint Ambrose, there is the fair called “O bei! O bei!” The festival overlaps the opening of the opera season at the Scala. The Carnival Ambrosiano is another event with a typical costume. There are also festivals like the Corteo dei Re Magi on 6 January, Tredesin de mars on 13 March or the Fair of Flowers. If you want to know more see: events in Milan.

Some famous people, born in Milan

Some Famous People

Alessandro Manzoni (1785 -1873), Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901), Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519), Brothers Verri: Pietro Verri (1728 – 1797) and Alessandro Verri(1741 – 1816), Cesare Beccaria (1738 – 1794), Carlo Porta (1775 – 1821), Alessandro Manzoni (1785 – 1873), Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901), Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893 – 1973), Giorgio Strehler (1921 – 1997).

Milan Culture and History

Milan Culture and History

History of Milan:

Strategically placed at the gateway to the Italian peninsula, Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy have been the subject of constant disputes over the centuries. Celts, Romans, Goths, Lombards, Spaniards and Austrians have all ruled the city at some stage of its history and for the most part, the city has capitalized on its position and has emerged today as the undisputed economic and cultural powerhouse of a united Italy, not without occasionally fighting back against foreign dominators.

Milan’s origin goes back to 400 B.C., when Gauls settled and defeated the Etruscans against Celts who were about to overrun the city.


In 222 B.C. the city was conquered by Romans and it was annexed to the Roman Empire, getting the name of Mediolanum. It became a permanent Latin colony in 89 B.C. after few attempts to rebellions. By 42 B.C. Rome had exerted its hold over Cisalpine Gaul (that means 'Gaul this side of the Alps') sufficiently to make the city officially part of its Italian territories. In his reorganisation of Italy in 15 B.C., emperor Augustus made Milan the capital of Transpadania region, including the towns of Como, Bergamo, Pavia and Lodi and extending as far west as Turin. Due to its strategic position (it was placed between the Italian peninsula and those areas beyond the Alps where Roman interests were widespread) the name changed into Roma Secunda. From 292 A.D. Mediolanum became the effective capital of the western emperor. It was a very important center for the consolidation of the new Christian religion. Some Milanese churches (like San Lorenzo, Sant'Ambrogio and Sant'Eustorgio) have early Christian origins.

After 313 A.D., the year of the Edict of Tolerance towards Christianity issued by Constantine the Great, many churches were built and the first bishop, St Ambrose, was appointed: Ambrogio was such an influential person that the church became the Ambrosian Church (7 December is a holiday to honour Sant’Ambrogio, the Milan's patron). Although Milan became less important as the Roman Empire declined. The city suffered the invasion of Lombards who first sacked (539 A.D.) and then conqueered it in 569 A.D. . The capital of the Roman–Barbaric kingdom of the Longobards (569-774 - from whom the region Lombardy takes its name) was instead Pavia. Milan's rebirth just began with Carolingian rule in the 8th century.

The bishops used the Lombard influence to built an alliance with the emperor Ottone of Saxony (who was the crowned king of Italy in the church of Sant’Ambrogio) and got even more powerful. The Church was given precedence over the landed nobilty, whose power was consequently reduced and, allied with the 'cives' (city–dwelling merchants or tradesmen), the clergy became the effective rulers of Lombardy's increasingly wealthy cities from around the start of the new millennium. At the beginning of the year 1000 the archbishop of Milan became the most powerful person in Northern Italy. In 1117 Milan became a municipality after a series of political difficulties and it acquitted itself of the archbishop. Milan also expanded by declaring war to other cities of the area. During this period the city was governed by democratic laws and built the Palazzo della Ragione as a seat fo its political self–rule.

After that Frederick I of Swabia (named Frederick Barbarossa) tried many times to conquer the city, in 1167 the 'Comuni' (towns run by the people) banded together in the Societas Lombardiae (Lombard League) and in 1176 Barbarossa was defeated definetively during the famous Battle of Legnano (Battle royale) which is also the subject of the eponymous opera by Giuseppe Verdi.

Beginning in 1200 Milan’s importance increased intensively and finally became a "Seigneury" (feudalism). The city considerably changed mainly in its appearance; some examples were the extension of the city walls, the construction of new buildings and the development of new paved streets.


The period of democratic governement came to an end when power was sized by the old Milanese Visconti family who were to be 'lords' of Milan from 1277 to 1447; the comune system was over and Milan, like so many other northern Italian cities, was going the way of one-family rule. From 1300 the Visconti brought a period of glory and wealth to the city and, within the space of a generation, the surrounding cities all acknowledged their rule, Bergamo and Novara in 1332, Cremona in 1334, Como and Lodi in 1335, Piacenza in 1336 and Brescia in 1337. It was under their rule that began the construction of the Duomo in 1386 (that then became the symbol of the city) and of the Castle Porta Giovia (then destroyed y rebuilt by Francesco Sforza and still nowadays known as Sforza Castle).

When the last Visconti duke Filippo Maria died in 1447 there were three brief years of republican rule then, in 1450 Francesco Sforza, his son-in-law, assumed the Castle and the power of the Visconti family and Milan finally got peace after many years of war against Venice and Florence. The Sforza family's rule coincided with the Renaissance period in Italy and expecially Francesco's rule was magnificent; he transformed the city into a powerful metropolis, building among other things the Castello Sforzesco and the Ospedale Maggiore (now Ca' Granda). It was during these years that the Castle and the Duomo were being built along with the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Under the Sforza duchy the city began its development. Ludovico il Moro (Ludovico Sforza) was the dominant figure; he proved a good ruler encouraging agricultural development and the silk industry, he called architects like Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci to his court, making the city one of Italy's great centres of art and culture.


In the early 16th century (the last years of Sforza rule) northern Italy was one of the territories contested by the Spanish and the French monarchies. Lombardy enjoyed a 14–year semblance of autonomy after France's King Francis I was defeated at Pavia in 1525. Francesco Sforza ruled under the tutelage of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (a Habsburg and King Charles I of Spain), but when Francesco died in 1535, Charles assumed direct power so began 170 years of Spanish domination which transformed the once-proud independent Duchy of Milan in the neglected capital of a province administered, guarded and taxed by foreigners. This is the humiliated Milan described in the Manzoni's novel "I promessi sposi". It was a time of no development and the city was also oppressed by the scourge of plague in 1630. Fortunately in the second half of the 17th century Milan's religious and cultural life was given fresh vigour thanks to the initiatives of Borromeo family, especially Carlo and Federico. Then, the great European wars of the early 18th century assured the Austrian domination of the city, which completely changed in all society fields (economic, public, cultural, artistic, administrative, scientific) thanks to the improvement given by the Habsburg dynasty. The Accademia di Brera was founded in this period; the theatre La Scala (where Giuseppe Verdi had his debut) was built in 1778, together with other neoclassical buildings and the Arco della Pace (1807).


It was thanks to this climate of enlightenment that Napoleon was received so enthusiastically by the Milanese when he marched into the city in May 1796, many optmist at that time saw him as the symbol of the democratic reform spirit. After Napoleon fall in 1814, the Congress of Vienna restored Lombardy to Austria, but Austrians were no longer enlightened reformers and the Milanese remained largely hostile to Austrian rule; hostility that found a musical outlet in some of Verdi's early operas and that finally exploded in the heroic Cinque Giornate of 1848 (five days of street fighting). However , owing to the military incopetence of Carlo Emanuele of Piedmont, the uprising failed and the Austrian forces re-entered the city which was placed under their commander-in-chief Count Joseph Radetzky's control.


It was just in 1859 that the Austrians were run out of the city and Milan was annexed to the Kingdom of Piedmont which became the Kingdom of Italy two years later. The liberation passed through the pressure of combined military intervention by the French and the Piedmontese and the decisive action of Risorgimento hero Giuseppe Garibaldi and his guerrilla troops. Since the seat of governement had to be Rome, from this time on Milan was chosen as the economical and cultural capital of Italy. To celebrate its new free status a great number of grandiose building projects were undertaken, for example the construction of the great Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the San Vittore prison, the Cimitero Monumentale and the San Gottardo tunnel.


The fascist party was founded in Milan in 1919 encouraged by the tumultuous climate created by numerous strikes supporting socialism grew. The population did not try to resist the dictatorship, except some industrial workers and intellectuals. But it was in this period that pompous works and examples of innovative architecture were built; the Central Station and the Triennale are two of them.

During the war Milan was destroyed. At the end of World War II Lombardy was instrumental in the boom that transformed Italy from a relatively backward, agricultural country to an industrial world leader. The city became a major financial centre and the region's new–found wealth attracted myriad workers from the south of Italy in a wave of immigration. It is nowadays the major center for commerce, finance, publishing and recently media, design and fashion.


Milan, the centre of fashion and business, is rich in Art and its heart is in gothic style.

A GLANCE TO HISTORY [more information in Milan's history]




A glance to history

The ancient Mediolanum, as it has been called by the Romans since the third century B.C. (a name of Celtic origin meaning "in the middle of the plains"), rose up around 400 B.C. It was the capital of the Western Roman Empire, and thanks especially to Saint Ambrose, it became one of the most active centers of the new Christian world.

Around the year 1000 it was already the most heavily populated city of Italy and became the most active center of the Padana Plain because of its manufacturing of wool, silk, metals and armaments.

Art and culture in Milan: The Sforzesco Castle

From the 14th to the middle of 15th centuries Milan came under the family Visconti and in the 1447 the Sforza family took the power and Milan became the capital of the dukedom of Milan. At the end of the 15th century Louis XII, king of France, took over the Dukedom. The French in 1535 gave way to the Spanish, who governed until the beginning of the 18th century. In 1707 Austrian controlled the city. With the exception of the Napoleonic power, the Austrians ruled until the celebrated "Five Days of Milan" (1848), a revolutionary independence movement that chased out the Austrians permanently. During the Second World War Milan was one of the cities which got most heavily hit by aerial bombardment.

Damages to historical monuments were especially serious; some were destroyed forever, but most were later restored. Since 1946 the recovery of industrial, economic and commercial activity has occurred rapidly, so that once more Milan has become the center of Italy's productive and economic life.

Many artists, intellectuals, and writers came to Milan and made that what it is today. If you want to know something about them,


all the artistic periods that have influenced the city of Milan:

Gothic Art

Renaissance Art

Baroque Art

Romantic Art


Contemporary Art

Gothic Art

The Gothic style was born in the 12th century in France and it continued til the 14th century. It spreaded to all Europe and it reached Italy too. In the 14th century Milan came under the Visconti family and it became the international centre of gothic art. The term "gothic" was used for the first time by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century as a synonym of "barbarous", in contrast with the retrieval of the ancient greek–roman language of the Renaissance. The most important work of this period, in Milan, is The Cathedral, (the heart of the city) that remains also as the most famous example of gothic art in Italy.

Renaissance Art

The term "renaissance" indicate the art of the 15th and 16th centuries, and it was used for the first time by Giorgio Vasari the first art historian, to describe all the artistic changes, that occurred after the Middle Ages. In this way renaissance means a revival of the classical period, and a new interest towards the ancient Roman and Greek civilization. In fact the renaissane artists inspired themselves from the classical art to create something new. In the 15th century Milan came under the Sforza family and Ludovico il Moro, the ruler of the city, decided to surround himself by the most important artists of the period. In fact Leonardo da Vinci was appointed by Ludovico il Moro "pictor ducalis" painter of the duke and he created the greatest work of the Renaissance period "The Last Supper" which is located in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, while all his sketches are in the "Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum". Another important artist was Il Bramante, who came to the court of Ludovico il Moro and left many important works, such as architectural works, Santa Maria at San Satiro, Santa Maria delle Grazie, and paintings, "Christ at the Column" which is in the Brera Gallery.

Baroque Art

The baroque art was born in the 18th century, as the artistic answer to the Protestantism. The term "baroque" was used in a disparaging way to indicate an exagerate and strange art. It is characterized by a strong contrast between light and dark, both in paintings and in sculptures. The great artist of this period was "Caravaggio" that is Michelangelo Merisi who was born near Milan. Caravaggio is the artist who best shows the dramatic sense of naturalism with his masterly use of lights contrasts. You can see some of his works in Milan for example: "Basket of Fruit" in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, and "Supper at Emmaus" in the Brera Gallery.

Romantic Art

After the Neoclassicism period, which revalued once again the classical age, the romantic art spreaded in all Europe. The term "romantic" indicates the interest for passion and irrationality, but above all the struggle between man and nature. In Milan the romantic period coincides with the Austrian domination, that lasted until a revolutionary indipendence movement, called the Five Days of Milan. An example of this art that you can appreciate in Milan is "The Kiss" a painting by Francesco Hayez, which is in the Brera Gallery.


The futurism movement was born at the beginning of the 20th century in Italy, to indicate the modernism period. The most important themes are: speed, war, and the city. The founder of futurism was Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who wrote the "Manifesto Futurista" published in "Le Figarò" in 1909, and he described Milan as "grande... tradizionale e futurista". For this reason Milan became the centre of the futurist movement and many artists left their works there. Examples of futurist art can be seen in Milan by some of the most important painters such as: Umberto Boccioni: "Autoritratto", or "La cittá che sale" in the Brera Gallery.

Contemporary Art

Nowadays Milan continues being an important centre of art, but above all Milan is a city which always look to the future, so contemporary art has a great importance. If you are interested in contemporary art you can't miss the expositions located in:

PAC (Padiglione Arte Contemporanea)

The expositions concern the 20th century and the international art of nowadays. It is the most important centre of contemporary art in Milan. In the past, it hosted very interesting artists expositions about the post war period and now there are thematic expositions too, for example about the different movements of 20th century italian art and about the main contemporaries european movements.

CIMAC (Civico Museo Arte Contemporanea)

Another place where you can appreciate contemporary art is: CIMAC, "Civico Museo Arte Contemporanea". CIMAC shows italian art of the 20th century and of the post–war, but it is known because it owns the best collection about futurism especially the one of Boccioni. However you can find De Chirico works too, for those who love "Surrealism", Carrà, Sironi, Giorgio Morandi, Filippo de Pisis. The collection is divided into three periods:

Boccioni and the Italian Futurism

This collection shows some of Boccioni most famous works: "Stati d'animo", "Dinamismo di un corpo umano", "Il bevitore" "Elasticità", (paintings) and "Forme uniche di continuità nello spazio"(statue). Other artists of this period are Giacomo Balla Mario Sironi, and Carlo Carrà who all belong to the futurism movement.

Italian Art of the 20th century

In this collection you can find works of Amedeo Modigliani, "Ritratto di Paul Guillaume" De Chirico, "Il Figliol Prodigo" "Combattimento di gladiatori". Besides, there are works that belong to lombard mouvements: "Chiarismo" and "Astrattismo di Rho". The Jucker collection is very important and it shows some Picasso's works "Les demoiselles d'Avignon" or some Braque's ones, "Port Mion".

Italian Art of the Post War

This collection hosts only the Italian Art and the one of Lucio Fontana is gorgeous: you can see all the works of his career, ceramics, earthenware, and his works in stone and pajettes. Another artist whose works are in this collection, is Fausto Melotti with his plaster sculptures, and Piero Manzoni. You can also appreciate works that belong to the Italian Pop Art for example the ones of Franco Angeli, Lucio del Pezzo, and many others. An important section is given also to the "arte povera" and to the paintings of the the 80s.

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