Lombardia - Places to visit - Milan (Milano)
Milan stands 122 m. above sea level on the edge of the upper and lower plains, in a long privileged position on the main lines of communication linking the Mediterranean area to Central Europe. Undoubtedly the most important industrial and commercial centre in Europe (with political and cultural influence).
Milan is a large metropolis extending over an area consisting of almost thirty municipalities. `Greater Milan' has over two and a half million inhabitants.
A settlement of the local Gauls as Mediolanum it became a busy trading centre in Roman times and, from 292 AD., was the seat of the Western Emperors. After the Barbarian invasions, when it lost some of its importance to Pavia, capital of the Lombards and Franks, Milan regained vigour during the comuni period and later under the Viscontis and Sforzas. After submitting to Spanish (1535-1714) and Austrian rule (1714-1859), it became part of the Kingdom of Italy, with the rest of Lombardy.
Despite its prevalently modern appearance, the city has a heritage of artistic treasures and famous monuments. Prominent is the Duomo, in the city centre, a magnificent building which took five centuries to finish (14th-19th century) without ever betraying the dictates of Gothic architecture, with its 135 spires and the famous gilt statue of the `Madonnina', the real symbol of Milan.
Not to be forgotten are the Romanesque Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio (4th-12th century), the church of Sant'Eustorgio, also Romanesque, the Castello Sforzesco (15th century castle), today housing many museums, Ospedale Maggiore (15th century hospital), the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (15th century) with Leonardo da Vinci's `Last Supper' in the adjoining monastery, the Baroque building of Brera and the Neoclassic La Scala theatre, by Piermarini.
With progressive expansion of industry, Milan has become a centre of international commerce.
Milan's economic sector, is immensely and productively dynamic, the result of the traditional entrepreneurial spirit and industriousness of the inhabitants.
The city is the site of vast international industrial plants, but also has many small and medium-sized firms; all branches of industry are well represented, the engineering, steel, chemical, textile, printing and wood-working sectors being the most important.
Over 60% of the active population is employed in the services sector, characterized by the presence of busy banks, finance and insurance companies, the head offices of the major Italian companies and the Borsa, Italy's main stock exchange.
Events: Fiera Campionaria (Trades Fair, April), Carnevale Ambrosiano (Milan carnival, with the Milanese Meneghino and Cecca masques), Fiera degli `Oh Bej! Oh Bej!'-second hand and antiques fair-(7th December in honour of Sant'Ambrogio, patron saint of the city), La Scala Opera Season, Festa dei Navigli (June).
Famous People: Cesare Beccaria (jurist, 1738-1794), Pietro Verri (man of letters and economist, 1728-1797), Carlo Porta (poet, 1776-1821), Alessandro Manzoni (writer, 1785-1873), Carlo Cattaneo (patriot and man of letters, 1801-1869), il Fiamminghino (artist, 1575-1640), San Carlo Borromeo (cardinal, 1538-1584), Luchino Visconti (film director, 1906-1976).
Cultural Institutions: Four universities (Statale, Cattolica, Bocconi, IULM), many museums and art collections (the Castello Sforzesco museums, Museo del Cinema, Pinacoteca Brera-art gallery-Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Museo del Risorgimento, Museo Manzoniano, Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica, Museo Archeologico), libraries (Ambrosiana, Comunale, della Societ Storica Lombarda), cultural associations, foundations (Poldi Pezzoli, Carlo Erba, Feltrinelli), research institutes, various theatres (La Scala, Lirico, Manzoni, dell'Elfo, di Porta Romana, Piccolo Teatro, and so on).
In the Province: Cinisello Balsamo, Sesto San Giovanni, Lodi (dairy products), Monza (industry and art), Legnano (Palio del Carroccio), Rho, Bollate.