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What you need to know about Milan before going to HR 2012

by Amy Thistle

May 9, 2012

In preparation for my first trip to Milan (and Italy for that matter) I have been doing some research on the city on I thought I would share what I have learned with all of you who are hopefully going to be joining me at HR 2012!

Milan is the business and fashion centre of Italy. It’s the place to come to shop till you drop. Don’t expect a beautiful renaissance city; it was heavily bombed during the second world war and the resulting building boom has created some true monstrosities.

The cathedral (Duomo) and the Last Supper are worth seeing (you can book online), as is the Castello Sforzesco and the Pinacoteca di Brera (Art Museum).The best guide to Milan is published by Time Out. Use Milan as a base to see the rest of the North of Italy, notably the lakes. Como, Maggiore, Lugano and Garda are all easy day trips from Milan. Also, Milan can be worth a one day stay if you are planning to go skiing in the nearby alps. Also very near to Milan is the Ligurian riviera, a one day trip from Milan could very well be Portofino, where the seriously rich go for seeing the other seriously rich.

Ah, if you are a soccer enthusiast, Milan is home to two of the strongest italian football teams, Inter and Milan, they play at the San Siro stadium, the largest in Italy.

Sights to see in Milan:

The Cathedral (Duomo)
A breathtaking sight and a must-see if in Milan. This structure took almost 600 years to build and is the largest in Italy - fourth largest in the World. At the time it was built it could hold the entire population of Milan, 40,000 people. The exterior is striking with it's many spires and statuary - the interior is just massive. You can climb the stairs to the roof for 6€ or take the elevator for 10€. Well worth the price if you want the see the gargoyles and statues up close or you want to see a view of the city.

The Navigli District
The Navigli is part of historic Milan. In the ancient days of early Milan, the entire city was linked with canals, similar to Venice. Today, most of the canals are gone, but the Navigli remains a canal-based neighborhood. The area is rich with a bohemian flavor which draws in artists and creative types and which adds to the romance of the neighborhood. Visitors can spend the day here shopping and browsing art galleries and they can stay in to the night, enjoying the restaurants, bars and clubs which line the canals. The official website

The Quadrilatero d’Oro
This entry titled Golden Triangle actually refers to an area of Milan in the shape of a rectangle - quadrilatero is the Italian word for quadrilateral or rectangle. This particular rectangle is bordered by Via Montenapoleone, Via Borgospesso, Via Della Spiga, and Via Sant' Andrea. is area is where the top fashion designers have their retail stores. If you are not interested in shopping you would be better served spending your time elsewhere. Here is a site with information about shopping in the area:

The Last Su pper
Reservations can be made on line or by telephone, although the call center is usually very busy. Operators speak English. Tickets to view Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper go on sale three months in advance and are quickly sold out.
There are also hassle-free ticket sellers (Select Italy, Tickitaly, Milan Guide Services and others) which book guided services, guaranteed tickets, and last minute tickets.

Other options involve visiting The Last Supper (ticket included) as part of a tour. 

For first time visitors (like me!)

First-time visitors to Milan might be interested in joining a city sightseeing tour. These tours are not cheap but cover all major highlights (including a guaranteed visit of the Last Supper), and can be a good introduction to Milan and its beauties. They are led by multilingual tour guides. The two operators offering these tours are Autostradale Zani
Zani Viaggi also offers a hop-on, hop-off tour bus service (audioguides are provided).

If you are looking to do a tour only in English there are tours which you can book, Select Italy, or tickitaly.

The weather:
The weather in Milan seems like it should be beau tiful while we are there for the HR 2012 conference. The average high temperature is 74F (23C) – 82F (28C) degrees and the average low temperature is 55F (13C) - 63F (17C) degrees.

Helpful websites: - tourist info website run by the Province of Milan. - tourist information from the Milan City Hall - a monthly magazine in English - a monthly magazine featuring all kinds of ads

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