Just 16 km from Milan’s central station and 22 km from the Rho Exhibition Centre, lies Hotel de la Ville, the 4 star hotel that has managed to redefine the concept of hospitality and elegance, becoming a reference point for tourists and businesspeople who are looking for a hotel near Milan, but outside the hustle and bustle of the big city. Today we will give you a small taste of this big city!
Brief history of the ancient capital of Italy.
Milan was founded by the Insubres in the 6th century BC, only to be conquered in 222 by the Romans, who renamed it Mediolanum. Over time, the city acquired more and more importance, eventually becoming imperial residence through the famous edict of toleration promulgated by Emperor Constantine in 313 AD, known also as the “edict of Milan”.
Ironically, during the era of the municipalities, the city was at the forefront of the fight against the Empire and became a seignory and then a duchy, remaining the main centre of political and cultural life of Renaissance Italy.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century it was conquered by the Spaniards who ruled it for two centuries, until the advent of the Hapsburg Empire, when Milan became part of the dominion of the Austrian Crown. Thanks to the latter and their revolutionary policies for the time, Milan became one of the centres of the Italian Enlightenment, a crossroads of ideas and cultures never seen in Europe before.
In the nineteenth century, it became the capital of the Napoleonic reign and, after the restoration, it was one of the most active centres during the Italian unification, becoming the capital of the Kingdom of Italy under the House of Savoy.
Milan has always been considered the economic and financial centre of the peninsula. It led the industrial development of Italy during the economic boom and still remains the financial and economic centre even though the capital has been moved to Rome.The city of Milan is also the leading national publishing centre and hosts some of the largest exhibitions in Europe, apart from being one of the 4 fashion capitals of the world along with London, Paris and New York. Its historical, cultural and economic importance is recognised worldwide. For this reason, it is visited every year by tourists and businesspeople from all over the world.
Milan: a lifetime would not be enough to see it all.
There are numerous historical and artistic sites in the city, but we will focus on listing some of the most popular, which are absolutely worth visiting:
- The Duomo: the iconic church dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente, located in the square with the same name in the centre of the city. It is the third largest catholic church in the world by surface after Saint Peter and the Seville Cathedral. We have all heard about it, even those of us who have never set foot in the Lombard capital, because it is the icon of the city and part of the worldwide collective culture.
- Sforzesco Castle: built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan Francesco Sforza, it is one of the most representative buildings in Milan, together with the Duomo. It was built on top of the ruins of an ancient fortress and has undergone many transformations over the centuries. Between the 6th and the 7th centuries, it was one of the most important military citadels in Europe. It was restored between the end of the 9th century and the beginning of the 10th by the architect Luca Beltrami and is one of Europe’s largest castles, now the seat of important cultural institutions.
- Royal Palace: it was the seat of the government for many centuries, it was also royal residence until 1919, when it was acquired by the State, becoming home to expositions and exhibitions. It is located to the right of the Duomo’s façade and conserves in the main floor the magnificent Hall of Caryatids, which survived the Anglo-American bombing of 1943. The building is the most important museum centre of Milan and periodically hosts exhibitions dedicated to the most relevant painters and sculptors from around the world.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: it is considered one of the first shopping malls in the world. It is a covered pedestrian street which joins Piazza Duomo and Piazza della Scala, full of elegant shops and centre of the Milanese bourgeoisie, a prerogative which earned it the name of Salotto di Milano (Milan’s drawing room). It is one of the most famous examples of the iron architecture: built in neo-Renaissance style, it represents the archetype of the shopping mall of the nineteenth century.
- Teatro alla Scala: it opened to the public in 1778 with an opera composed for the occasion by the librettist Salieri. It is considered one of the most prestigious theatres in the world and is home to more than 200 years of the most famous international artists in the field of opera and classical music. The theatre is located in the square bearing the same name, and next to it you can find the museum dedicated to it.
- The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci: perhaps the most famous wall painting of all time, performed by the artist between 1495 and 1498 in the refectory of the convent adjacent to the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is the symbol of the Renaissance, a true masterpiece representing Jesus and the 12 Apostles at the table just before Christ was betrayed. Unfortunately, the master painted it with an experimental technique that proved incompatible with the humidity of the environment, which is why it always presents a poor preservation condition, despite having been subjected to one of the longest restorations in the history of art, lasting from 1978 to 1999. It is one of Italy’s most visited sites, with an average of 400,000 visitors a year.
But Milan is not only art and history, as mentioned before; it is one of the most important European exhibition centres: the first trade fair took place in April 1920, which housed 1200 Italian and foreign exhibitors, and over the years became more and more important, such that an autonomous entity in charge of international exhibitions was established. In 2006 one of the most modern exhibition centres in the world was built in the suburbs of the city, in Rho, with a surface area of 400,000 square meters, between external and internal spaces. It is a reference point for all exhibitors in the world and hosted the World Expo 2015, among other events.
Far from having explored all the possibilities, we hope to have given you at least a small taste of what you can admire in the definitely more “international” city of Italy; perhaps chaotic, but certainly fascinating and rich in history like few others in the world.