One of the largest cities in Italy and also known to the world as the cosmopolitan capital of the country, Milan. It’s a destination for not just tourists but for people who wish to make it in the fashion industry, those who look to educate themselves in the art of design and of course for the tourists who are seeking out the greatest sculptures in the world. These reasons are almost definitely why people refer to it as the economic heart of Italy.
A few things about Milan
- Milan is a city in Northern Italy, with three parts to it. There is the city proper, the metropolitan city and the urban area known as Greater Milan.
- The population of Milan, the capital of Lombardy, is in the region of 8 million people when you include all portions of the city together.
- The Cathedral of Milan, which is better known as il Duomo, is at the very centre. The construction has been ongoing for the last 506 years. It has become a symbol for the people of Milan as a piece that is never finished. Italians refer to it as ‘Factory of the Duomo’. Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano (‘Venerable Factory of the Duomo of Milan’) are the organisation who head up the constant construction and restoration of the site, this group has been on the job for 600 years.
- Home to one of the most famous painters, sculptors, scientists, palaeontologists, mathematicians, botanists…that has ever existed, Leonardo Da Vinci, his artworks are an attraction here. The Last Supper calls Milan it’s home, more specifically the Santa Maria delle Grazie is where it lives.
- Milan is well known around the world for being a stronghold of art, commerce, design, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, research and tourism.
- Other notable people that called this well of knowledge home, Giorgio Strehler the founding director of the first permanent theatre in Italy Piccolo Teatro, the infinitely influential Caravaggio was born in Milan and of course the highly acclaimed actress Greta Scacchi was born here in the heart of art.
- It is recognised as one of the four fashion capitals of the world. Milan fashion week is held semi-annually and around 70 fashion shows are on offer with designs from over 90 different houses.
- Milan is packed with traffic so when driving there remember there is a central congestion zone. This can be entered by anyone who has pre purchased an Area C ticket from shops and online, then you must activate it before entering the zone. This charge applies to people who live in the zone as well although they receive 40 entries for free per year. Zone B was introduced in 2019 to help the city with its emissions and therefore some cars that are heavy polluters are not allowed in these zones.
- Speed limits are in km/h with local maximum being 50km/h, then suburbs 90km/h, non-major highways 110km/h and highways 130km/h. The urban areas can also apply to stretches of highway so keep an eye out for changes in the speed limit.
- Parking in Milan is charged by the hour and is between 2 to 3 €’s. Look out for the world standard blue ‘P’ signs.
- Milan’s climate has that of most of the Northern parts of Italy with hot humid summers and cold foggy winters. Temperatures during winter can drop below freezing.
Airports in Milan
There is the main airport in Milan and that is Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP). This airport serves the fifteen million inhabitants of the surrounding Lombardy area. It’s an international airport that in the first six months of 2019 it handled 12.5 million passengers, from holiday makers to business associates and of course the rich and to a different extent the famous. This is a dual terminal airport with multiple smaller terminals 1A, 1B and 1C being attached to Terminal 1. 1A handles domestic and intra-Schengen flights, 1B handles non-Schengen and intercontinental flights and 1C handles non-Schengen, intercontinental and security-sensitive flights to USA and Israel. The second terminal handles Easyjet flights exclusively. This airport also has a cargo terminal. The drive from MXP to the centre of Milan is around 50 minutes. There is a train service that will take around 48 minutes.
The second airport in Milan is the Linate Airport (LIN) also known as Airport Enrico, this serviced over 9 million passengers in 2018 and is about a 20-minute drive from the centre. It is used as a base by Alitalia and Alitalia Cityliner. It has the title of being the fifth busiest airport in Italy. Due to its close proximity to the city (7km) this busy airport had to limit the amount of slots it allowed from 32 per hour down to 22. It also only accepts flights from domestic locations or from within the EU.
The third and lesser known airport is Milan Bergamo (BGY) also known as Orio al Serio, this is the best for accessing the Alps. It services around 8 million people a year and has just one passenger terminal.
Hire a car at the airport
Milan airport, being 47km from the city centre, is well connected through roads and public transport. Hiring a car from the airport is easy with all the major operators having either spaces or desks here. The companies that operate out of T1 are Auto Europa, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Gold Car, Hertz, Locauto, Maggiore, Leasys, Thrifty, Sixt, Interrent. T2 has most of the same and one addition which is Firefly.
Linate Airport has a little less of a selection as of course it is also very close to the city. Companies that operate out of here are Auto Europa, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Hertz, Locauto, Maggiore, Thrifty, Sixt.
Milan Bergamo airport is mostly used as a jumping off point for the Alps although it is still only around a 48 min journey to the centre via car. The operating car hire companies at Bergamo are Auto Europa, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Locauto, Maggiore, Leasys, Sixt.
History of Milan
The name Milan is said to be a derivative of the two Latin words medio (in the middle) and planus (plain), middle plain.
This northern part of Italy appears to have been founded by the Celtic Insubres who, according to archaeological finds, ran the region under an Oligarchic Societal model. They were the result of cross tribal pollination, a mixture of Ligurian and Lepontii Celtic people. Although when the Romans arrived to contest the land, with their swords, the population was mostly Gaulish. Not much was left of their culture after the Romans heaved them off the land.
The region was then renamed to Cisalpiene Gaul which translates to ‘Gaul this side of the Alps’ and ruled over by Roman Emperor Diocletian who chose to move the capital of the Western Roman Empire to this position.
In the middle-ages the city was besieged by the Visigoths in 402, they were nomads of a Germanic bloodline. They stayed in the area till the 8th century at least. They were known mostly as Goths and followed a pagan style of worship. As with all the regions of the Mediterranean, it wasn’t long till other people arrived to attempt to take over this much sought-after paradise. Atilla, King of the Huns, sacked and devastated the city in 452 AD then in 539 the Ostrogoths conquered and destroyed Milan. During the 11th century the Romans fought back against Germanic parties and Milan was once again there’s to rule. Of course, it was constantly bickered over within the ranks of the Roman Empire but, because of its position, it began to flourish as a trade point which seemed to placate the warring parties.
From 1629 – 1631 the city was struck by the Great Plague of Milan in which over 60,000 people died from contracting the bubonic plague. In the 1800s the region was ruled over by the Austrians, but all this changed on March 18th, 1848 when the people rebelled against Austrian rule and this has become known as ‘Five Days’ of uprising.
This is an abridged version of the history of a monumental place in the world. Some more intricate details have been omitted.
Guide to Milan
With such an incredibly dense history there is no lack of sites to see and places to go. A city of a grand past and an excitingly glorious present. One of the most important places for the country and some may say the world is the site of ‘The Last Supper’ at Santa Maria delle Grazie. Equally as important across the road is the Leonardo Davinci Vineyard where he would wind down at the end of a long stroke with a glass of wine. The vineyard was gifted to him by his long-standing patron, Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza, don’t miss it. It doesn’t all have to be Davinci though as if you take a short stroll from the Piazza Lima in Corso Buenos Aires you can find the Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano, the home museum, where works from the 1920s to 1960s from painters like Boccioni, Morandi, Funi, Marussig and Casorati are on show inside what was once Antonio and Marieda Boschi Di Stefano’s private home.
Time to do what Milan boasts about all over the world, shopping. Why not start at the top and of course the infamous Quadrilater d'Oro (Golden Quadrilateral) where you will find the crème of all the crème, Gucci, Prada, Moschino, Valentino, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace and more. The streets are mostly pedestrianised to make for a comfortable safe dazzling experience. There’s not only the big brands with their fancy flagship stores and boutique lounges there’s also The Brera District where you will be surprised by the bohemian clothing on offer, with spots like Faliero Sarti which will provide you with all your scarfing needs. Take time to fall into the atmosphere around here and hidden gems will present themselves.
People come to Milan to shop but they come to Italy to dine and Milan has got this covered. Jump all the way in with a Michelin starred marvel Ristorante Cracco, the cellar has over 2,000 bottles on offer which seems overwhelming but the idea is to lay down in the hands of the waiter and be carried through their best. There’s also a reasonably priced café attached if you’re not wanting to dive all the way in. Pizza is on the menu and there are so many on offer, Marghe is an exceedingly popular destination and is all about their dough, with a 48 hour rising time and ingredients from all over Italy it fails to disappoint. Next on the pie list is the unconventional Pumma where not only the toppings are seasonal so is the dough. Pumma crusts are a bit more bready than the other lighter compatriots but still an excursion for the tastebuds that will excite and fulfil. Finally on this shortlist is Da Zero, the place itself is kinda cold but the service and pizza are both warm and nutritious, even the classics are thought provoking. But hey it doesn’t all have to be discs of dough and sauce, Italians love a great sandwich and Fratelli Torcinelli serve up those and more, the Prosciutto Cotto with Ricotta makes the buds tremble with excitement.
There’s only one thing left to do in Milan and that’s to grab a drink in one of the plethora of secret bars throughout the city, that’s what everyone does here. There’s one on the list that will take some getting into as first you have to attend the cafe MAG and make sure you impress the bartenders with your purchasing skills, then hope you can catch a slip of their tongue as to where the bar is. Secret bars aren’t for everyone but upmarket ones sure can be with places like HClub-Diana on offer you will want to be out in the open. They have three areas the restaurant, the bar and the outdoor space, the restaurant and the bar look like they are straight out of an art deco magazine and the cocktails will help you swoon into a Wes Anderson film with the Djs who will ensure you never leave.
Milan Car Hire FAQ’s
Cost of hiring a car in Milan?
All depending on what you are after and where you pick it up from. For a smaller rental around April for seven days, with a pickup and drop off location of the airport, you can get a Peugeot 108 or similar for around €6.27/day. If you are wanting a larger more luxurious vehicle then you could rent yourself an Audi A5 or similar for around €91.16/day. These prices change somewhat during peak seasons.
What is the cheapest car hire in Milan?
The cheapest car hire in Milan from the Milano Malpensa Airport, with a pickup of mid-march and drop off a week later is €5.38/day from Joyrent car rentals. From Milan Linate Airport, close to the centre of the city, the price is naturally higher at €7.83/day from EcoVia. Both of these prices are for a Fiat Panda or Similar.
How much is it for an economy car hire per day in Milan?
An Economy car rental in Milan, with pickup and drop off in March, from Milano Malpensa Airport is €5.48/day for a Fiat Panda or similar. The next car up from that is the Opel/Vauxhall or similar for €5.48/day.
Which car companies operate out of Milan Airport?
All the large names have physical desks at the airport Auto Europa, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Gold Car, Hertz, Locauto, Maggiore, Leasys, Thrifty, Sixt, Interrent and Win Rent. T2 has most of the same and one addition which is Firefly.
What’s the best way to get around Milan?
There’s a dedicated metro system that operates throughout the city. From the airport you have a choice of taking a coach, a train or hiring a car. In the city centre itself you have the option of travelling on buses, the metro again and the tram line which is a great way to get a good view of the city, without being constantly stuck in traffic or paying the congestion charges.
Do I need an international license for Milan?
Drivers that are not from within the EU need to have an IDP (International Drivers Permit) and their personal license. Drivers from the UK will not need and IDP up to 9 months after the date the UK leaves the EU then for visits under 6 months your UK license will suffice. If you have an older UK license such as a paper one, then you will need your passport as well.
What if I have an accident?
Contact the local authorities first then the car company that you hired the rental from.
Which side of the road do the Milanese drive on?
Are the roads dangerous?
Be wary when driving in a foreign country as the road rules are different and the locals may drive in a fashion that is not to your taste.
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