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Milan – Italy’s Epicentre of Fashion, Finance and Art
Armani. Pirelli. Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Almost any city in the world would be immensely proud to call just one of these home, but Milan houses all three. Being in Milan means being at the very heart of Italian life, with the country’s top fashion houses, companies and much of its best artwork all calling this city home. Rome may be the capital, but outside of politics and government most of what happens in the nation happens in the stylish and modern streets of the Lombardy capital.
The streets double as catwalks
Almost nowhere in the world is it more true to say that the city streets themselves act as continuous and ever changing catwalks. The residents of the city of Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, and Versace are known to have a certain sense of style, and visitors gravitate here from the four corners of the earth to check out the very latest in the fashion world. Almost all of the top boutiques are conveniently located within a small area in the centre of Milan appropriately called the Quadrilatero d’Oro (Rectangle of Gold). Most of the big, local, and international names have stores in the narrow streets, but the exuberant and iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Shopping Centre also has much of interest for fashionistas. Prada has its flagship store in this very grand 19th century centre and the Milanese and visitors alike also use it as a meeting space. Its ground floor also hosts many cafés and restaurants, which offer perfect spots for people watching. Fashion Week is typically the height of the style calendar in Italy. While many events are for industry insiders only, some of the shows and activities are accessible to the general public. Trying to find a room in any of the central hotels can be difficult during this period, so advance booking is recommended.
From Stock Market to Corporate Headquarters
It is not merely in the areas of fashion and art that Milan excels. It is also the financial and corporate capital of Italy. A number of marquee Italian companies have their headquarters in the city, not least of which is the motoring giant Pirelli. The 32-storey Pirelli Tower, while no longer serving as the group’s head office, is worth a visit. Its simple design and unique good looks have won it awards and caused it to serve as inspiration for New York’s iconic Pan Am building. The Italian Stock Exchange is also located in the city and is housed in a contemporary classical palazzo. The city sees many conferences and exhibitions throughout the year, some held in business hotels and the largest held in the massive Fiera Milano. It is a sprawling complex that lies near the central district and is easily accessible from both Milan Central Station and the airport. While there are not many hotels in the area of the conference centre, attendees can easily book a hotel room in the centre of the city, easily accessible via the Milan Metro.
The Intersection of Art and Commerce
Milan is not a newly rich city but has been this way for centuries. As a result, there has always been a steady stream of benefactors who have drawn in and supported some of the world’s best artists, who in turn have created incredible monuments and artwork. Arguably the most famous original piece of art in the city is Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Renaissance art historians and Dan Brown fans alike will want to make a beeline for the Santa Maria delle Grazie Convent, where they will be able to gaze upon the enigmatic painting and also Montorfano’s crucifixion scene on the opposite wall. The Duomo, set right in the heart of the city, should not be missed. Besides being one of the grandest and best preserved Gothic cathedrals to be found anywhere, it also houses a number of exquisite artworks, especially sculptures. For a more comprehensive and far ranging art experience, visitors should head to Sforza Castle. Set in its own formal gardens, it houses art from ancient Egypt to the Renaissance and beyond in a series of separate museums and is well worth a visit.