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Milan may claims "second" place to being the largest city in Italy, yet it's far from being second class. Milan has much to offer to the traveler who's visiting Italy, and is well worth a stop. Being the country's capital of business, fashion, music and design, Milan offers amazing attractions which combine both past and present charms.
Located south of the Italian Alps, Milan is populated by one and a half million people, and is very close to several other cities and attractions such as Venice and Florence, great skiing resorts, such as Livigno and the Valtellina, and the seashore villages of Liguria and the Cinque Terre. Each are just a few hours (or less) away, which makes Milan a great place to live in or to use as a touch base for visiting some of the most beautiful areas of Northern Italy.
3D Milan, Italy.
The History of Milan
The history of Milan goes back as far as 222 BC, when the city was attacked by Roman legions, and the residing Celtic tribes were defeated.The key factor of the city's success was credited to trade, which led it to a quick development.
Over the centuries, Milan often suffered under the power of foreign domination, starting in 1535, when the city fell under Spanish rule, and then in 1713, when it became Austrian.
In 1802, Milan was named capital of Napoleon's Italian Republic, and he was crowned King of Italy and Milan in 1805. Following the final defeat of the Corse general, the city briefly returned to the Austrians, who were chased by Vittorio Emmanuele II in 1859. Two years later, the new kingdom of Italy was declared and Milan became part of it. To commemorate its first Italian king, the beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II was built in the center of Milan. As you can see, history and its treasures could count as an excellent reason to visit the city!
Milan - Italy.
Milan is also home to the world-renowned La Scala Opera house, Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper and the Gothic Cathedral Duomo. On a more modern scale, Milan also contains shops and boutiques of Italy's most important fashion designers, located in the famous "quadrangle of fashion" district near the center of Milan.
Italy's leading Stock Exchange, world-class music conservatories and the nation's most important design schools have also been parked in Milan.
Currency: The currency has been the Italian Lira in the past; however, the Euro was introduced in 2001.
Dining: Risotto alla Milanese (yellow-saffron rice), Ossobuco (veal shank) and Cotoletta alla Milanese (fried beef chop) are among the most common food dishes in Milan.
Transportation: Taxis, buses, trams and subways are available for travel to many areas in the city.
Weather: Warm weather prevails from June to September, averaging temps of 75 to 85 F (20 - 30 C). Winters are cold, but Milan rarely sees snow. During winter, the temperature averages 30s to 50s F (0 to 10 C).
A few of my favorite places around Milano to find unusual ingredients.
- Esselunga - (I go to the one in Viale Papiniano, but they are everywhere). If you really look around and you can find some nice things like sour cream (French creme fraiche - dilute it with a little milk and add some salt to approximate the taste of US sour cream). There are a lot of other things like pancake mix, tofu, spices, etc... look carefully.
- Super Polo - Viale Coni Zugna angolo Pacioli Milano, L.go La Foppa 1, a bit overpriced for some things, but you can find real German sour cream there. You can make more using a spoonful of it to culture some fresh cream diluted with a bit of milk, and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours. They also have some mexican foods, but a bit expensive.
- Lanka Grocery in Via Cesare da sesto,21 - near Piazza Sant'Agostino. There are a couple of Sri Lankan stores there, but this is the best. They have a great variety of spices, coconut milk, Thai curry pastes, Basmati/Thai/red rice, soy sauce, and much, much more at very low prices.
- A Peruvian stand where Naviglio grande meets the the Darsena. They have very hot and rare rocoto peppers and sauces, and Peruvian potatoes. Nice folks.
- A tiny Phillipine grocery in Corso di Porta Ticinese beside the Colonne San Lorenzo near the big arch. They have many things including crunchy peanut butter, sweet potatoes, pancake mix and syrup, masa harina, and much more.
- Kathay in via Rosmarini, 11, Via Clitumno,18, and Piazza IV Novembre, 4. The main store in Via Rosmarini is in chinatown, but they have more than Chinese foods and condiments, like Thai, mexican, Indian, etc... They also offer hard-to-find fresh foods, like long beans, and other Chinese vegetables. You can also find many low priced cooking utensils in chinatown, like woks, and chinese cleavers.
On the same street as Kathay (via Rosmarini), there is usually a small van parked there with fresh chinese vegetables, like bok choy. They don't seem to speak Italian, but you can point.
Milan brings history and modernism together. Whether you'd like to learn interesting historical facts, tour amazing sites or just visit the design shops and boutiques located in the center of the city, Milan should be added to your travel plans if possible.