Milan Travel & tourist Information

Published on by Marinko Travel

Milan cathedral
Milan cathedral

Milan's history as a capital city goes back at least 2,500 years. Its fortunes ever since - both as a great commercial trading center and as the object of regular conquest and occupation - are readily explained by its strategic position at the center of the Lombard plain, directly south of the central passes across the Alps. Milan is bordered by three highly navigable rivers - the Po, the Ticino, and the Adda - for centuries the main arteries of an ingenious network of canals crisscrossing all Lombardy and ultimately reaching most of northern Italy.

Virtually every invader in European history - Gaul, Roman, Goth, Longobard, and Frank - as well as a long series of rulers from France, Spain, and Austria, has taken a turn at ruling the city and the region. Milan's glorious heyday of self-rule proved comparatively brief, from 1277 until 1500, when its two great family dynasties, the Visconti and subsequently the Sforza, held sway. These families were known, justly or not, for a peculiarly aristocratic mixture of refinement, classical learning, and cruelty. Be on the lookout in your wanderings for the Visconti family emblem - a viper, its jaws straining wide, devouring a child.

If you are wondering why so little seems to have survived from Milan's antiquity, the answer is simple - war. Three times in the city's history, partial or total destruction has followed conflict - in AD 539, 1157, and 1944. Thanks to the great family dynasties, there are still great Gothic and Renaissance treasures of art and architecture to be seen, including Leonardo's unforgettable Last Supper. And thanks to new lords and ladies - like Armani and Prada - the city now dazzles as the design and fashion center of the world. Old and new come together at Milan's La Scala - Europe's most important opera house - where audiences continue to set sail for passion on the high C's.

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