My name is Giovanni Nunno and I am a 4th year business student. I had the pleasure and privilege of studying in Milan for four months last fall. I am also a filmmaker, and with my experience, I made a short two-part film based on my time in Italy titled “Hypocrisy”, 3:36 minutes in length, it is half audio and half visual (use headphones and immerse yourself into Italian life).
I have also written about 4 topics related to life in Milan which may be interesting to read if you wish to visit one day. To start, the city is everything you’ve heard of and more. It is full of energy, culture, beauty, and creativity. It is not your stereotypical Italian city, it is very industrial and modern. That being said, it is not generally somewhere people stop on a week vacation to Italy. Naturally, it is very hard to compete with Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Amalfi, etc. Yet, I hope my topics will provide insight on the unique atmosphere of Milan that allows it to differentiate from other quintessential Italian cities.
The museums and art exhibitions were consistently of the highest quality. For instance, while I was there, there were exhibitions featuring: Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Marc Chagall, Toulouse-Lautrec and Frida Kahlo. There were new exhibitions coming each month. Some notable Museums are: Pinacoteca di Brera (basically the Louvre of Italy, after the Uffizi), Novecento, Galleria d’Italia, and Fondazione Prada. Also, the Teatro alla Scala, in the city centre, is one of the most famous opera houses in the world.
Italian Design… absolutely unparalleled, I have never seen such beautiful clothing and design in all things from furniture to everyday clothes. Though, as stated, Milan is not known for its quintessential Italian architecture, yet, taking nearly six centuries to complete, the iconic Milan cathedral beside the famous Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II is jaw-dropping.
There is also a very interesting section of Milan that follows the street named Corso Como. It is the financial sector with multiple sky-scrappers, two of them being the famous Bosco Verticale (vertical forest buildings). After I visited the financial district, I realized why Milan has the highest GDP in Italy, and the second highest in Europe. With that in mind, Milan is a very interesting clash between old and new. In a 15-minute walk, you can go from something resembling New York City, to later believing you are in Rome surrounded by 16th century architecture. When you think you’ve seen it all, there is always a new aspect to this city.
The transportation system is arguably the best in Italy, you do not need a car. The tram system and bike sharing network within the city makes it extremely easy and cost effective to view every corner of Milan. To travel elsewhere, there are 3 very efficient airports as well as bullet trains connecting you to all major cities in the area… it takes just over an hour to reach Florence, one hour to Bologna, 2 hours to Venice, under 3 hours to Rome, etc.
CULTURE + FOOD
As for any famous Italian city, there are particular cultural traditions and food items associated with Milan. Here are a few: risotto alla Milanese, panettone, ossobuco, and veal Milanese. Most importantly, it is known as the birthplace of modern Aperitivo. Aperitivo (aperitif) is the time before dinner (usually 6:00-8:00pm) where you can enjoy a cocktail accompanied by small complementary appetizers. Yet, many places in Milan commonly allow you to purchase a cocktail and will then give you access to an unlimited Italian buffet (you won’t stop eating). Besides aperitivo, since Milan is an economic powerhouse, you can find foods from all countries (for example, the food in China Town was phenomenal). You will also find some of the nicest designed and quality cafés in the country.
In the end, Milan will not be like going to Rome, Florence, or Venice, etc. you could probably see ‘everything you need to see’ in Milan in under a day. Yet, it is not an ‘attraction city’ as such cities like Venice has turned into, it is a city full of life making it somewhere to visit for a longer period of time.