Milan is Known for its Fashion Scene, Cultural Heritage, fun festivals and impressive architecture.
Milan is a well-known city and tourist destination in northern Italy. It is the capital of Lombardy, which has both mountainous terrain and is found on the Po River. Although Milan is landlocked, it is a short distance from the Alps and beautiful beaches on the Atlantic Ocean.
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What Is Milan Known For?
Milan is famous for being the world’s fashion capital, as many designer headquarters are found here. Furthermore, the rich cultural scene gives rise to many festivals celebrating more than just fashion. Milan is known for its impressive theatre, nature, and fine art.
History, Culture, And Traditions Milan Is Known For
Milan Fashion Week
One of the most talked about events in the fashion industry is Milan Fashion Week.
Twice a year, designers and models alike gather to showcase the latest trends of the Fall-Winter and Spring-Summer collections. Amongst them are Prada, Bottega Venetta, and Giorgi Armani, which are based in Milan. Nonetheless, brands from around the globe publicize their new collections.
Milan fashion shows and catwalks have gone down in history. Amongst the most memorable is “Viva Versace”, a tribute to Gianni Versace as a result of his inopportune assassination.
Milan Film Festival
Whilst fashion may overshadow certain events, it isn’t all Milan is famous for. The Milan Film Festival is an established event running since 1996 and is a reputable contest for which awards are esteemed.
Originally, the purpose of the festival was to give hardworking newcomers a chance to exhibit their works, without the pressure of competing against old-timers. However, it has since transformed into a global contest.
Categories include film, documentaries, directing, and more. The film festival may be one of the lesser-known facts about Milan amidst all the other impressive things but definitely worth its own weight.
The Ambrosian Carnival is held one week after the Venice Carnival and just before Lent. It translates roughly to ‘without meat’, which is forbidden during the forty days of lent.
As a result, this carnival that Milan is known for is like one last party with food, dance, and costume. Traditionally, this is a tricorn hat, wig, red jacket, green trousers, and striped socks.
This is not to be confused with the Feast of Saint Ambrose, which is held in December, honoring the patron saint of Milan.
Tredesin de Mars
On March 13th of every year, Milan celebrates the Tredesin de Mars. It is an ancient flower festival that dates back to the 15th century and has a legend attached to its meaning.
It is believed that Saint Barnabas arrived in Milan on this date and drove a cross into a round stone. This exact stone can be viewed in Santa Maria al Paradiso. When this happened, the snow melted and the flowers began to blossom, hence why the festival celebrates plants.
One of the most famous things to do in Milan on this day is for households to decorate with fresh flowers, which can be found in street markets.
The Liberation Day of Italy is celebrated in all cities, especially Rome, Venice, and Milan. On the 25th of April 1946, Italian troops fought and won against Nazi fascism. As a result, every year the independence of Italy is remembered and honored.
The national holiday is followed by parades where the national anthem is sung in victory. Additionally, huge feasts are held with traditional foods such as pasta and grilled meats.
Lastly, it is a grave reminder of those who died for the country, and so their graves are visited, and the religious visit Church.
Districts And Areas Milan Is Known For
Brera is the contemporary district that Milan is so famous for, and it’s not hard to see yet. The area continues to industrialize, creating a lively atmosphere as a result.
One of the most significant galleries in Brera is the Pinacoteca di Brera. It houses works ranging from the 13th to 20th century, found inside the Academy of Fine Arts. Famous pieces include Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio painted in 1601.
A walking distance away from here is the Palazzo Citerio, an elegant palace that similarly showcases Italian paintings.
The beating heart of Milan is known as Zone 1, where Duomo is found. Despite being small, it holds many of the most-visited landmarks in Milan.
A popular historical attraction is The Duomo, or Milan Cathedral, which is the magnificent Gothic cathedral that took centuries to perfect building.
If you prefer to do some spending, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the perfect shopping arcade complete with boutiques and restaurants.
Sempione is sort of a park neighborhood in Milan. The Sempione Piazza is made up of two main landmarks: Parco Sempione and Arco della Pace.
The first, Sempione Park, is a huge garden with acres of space surrounded by fragrant flora. It is the ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon in Milan with a picnic. Inside the park is the notable arched city gate. Whilst it was built in the 19th century, the original wall it is associated with was built by the Romans.
What is Milan famous for if not high-end fashion?
The Quadrilatero d’Oro translates to the golden rectangle. Accordingly, it consists of four chic streets: Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga, Via San’t Andrea, and Via Alessandro Manzoni. This is regarded as the fashion district and contains some of the most expensive streets in the world. A fun fact about Milan is that it is the wealthiest city in Italy!
Along these cobblestone streets, you will find classy fashion boutiques and discover the latest trends. Window shop at Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Versace; ambling along the stores is the very definition of retail therapy!
For visiting with friends, Porta Venezia is the best district to explore. The social scene is lively and bursting with excitement, packed with clubs and rustic bars. This is probably because of the universities in the area.
Aside from this, Porta Venezia has a rich cultural side. The Boschi di Stefano House is a museum made public in 2003. It is made up of a collection of works that a couple (Boschi and Stefano) cumulatively built up, displaying pieces from Manzoni to Mario Sironi.
Landmarks And Architecture Milan Is Known For
Milan Cathedral – Duomo
One of the most famous landmarks in Italy is the Duomo, otherwise known as the Milan Cathedral. The historical structure took over 600 years to build, beginning in 1386. As a result, the architecture is unique because of the range of styles it demonstrates.
In addition to being a religious destination, it also houses some important artwork. This includes such as a golden statue of Saint Bartholomew and The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.
It is the largest Church in Italy, as well as one of the biggest worldwide. Consequently, this is an incredibly popular attraction and it is recommended to get a ticket early to save a bunch of queue time.
If you want to dive into the incredible stories and history behind this impressive structure, rather than just admiring the visuals blankly; you can even take a guided tour of the cathedral which will also give you skip-the-line access.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is dedicated to the first king of Italy. Hence, it is the oldest operating shopping gallery in the country.
The intricately-designed 19th-century building is made up of two arcades which are shaped like a cross and connected by glass, creating a dome. It is large and consists of four stories.
Inside, you will find several designer labels that Milan is famous for such as Prada and Gucci, as well as international brands. After a long day of shopping, you can enjoy a delicious meal in the food court ranging from traditional Milanese dishes to fast foods. Maybe even sample some intricate Italian chocolates that the country is so known for.
The Sforzesco Castle in Sempione Park is a medieval citadel built for Francesco Sforza, the former Duke of Milan. It has been rebuilt several times since its construction and remains well-preserved.
Inside, you can find many artifacts significant to the culture of Milan. For example, the Trivulziana Library holds a manuscript by Leonardo da Vinci and the marble Rondanini Pietà sculpture by Michelangelo in the Rondanini Pietà Museum.
In addition, there are prehistoric, musical, and Egyptian collections. This is one of the most impressive castles in Italy.
Teatro alla Scala
The Teatro alla Scala is a 12-story opera house specializing in classical music.
The opera house first opened in 1778, where the first musical was Europa riconosciuta, a dramatic love story set in Phoenicia, an ancient civilization. Nowadays, performances range from ballet to opera and concerts. Additionally, there are many cultural events hosted here.
Inside you can find grandiose staircases, a neoclassical foyer, and monumental stages. The exterior is just as opulent, painted off-white and boasting giant columns.
The Last Supper / Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Santa Maria delle Grazie is a Church that also goes by the Holy Mary of Grace.
The Dominican Convent opened in 1497, years after Leonardo da Vinci was born. The religious attraction in Milan piqued his interest, and subsequently a masterpiece was born. On a wall in the dining room, you can find the mural of The Last Supper.
This impressive painting dominates the entire wall and depicts the famous passage from the Bible, where Jesus sat with his twelve disciples. During this feast, he is told that one of the apostles will consequently betray him.
This is one of Da Vinci’s most famous pieces of work. Apart from being a raving attraction in Milan, the Last Supper Guided Tour is also extremely popular as it really goes into the fascinating history and legends behind it.
San Siro Stadium
Italy is well known for their love and passion for soccer (or football, depending on where you are from); and they have a very established national team.
One of the most important things to do in Milan is visit San Siro Stadium, especially if you are a sports fan. The huge stadium is amongst the biggest in the continent and has a capacity for over 80,000 people.
The stadium is the home and training center for two adored football clubs: A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. Famous players for these teams include Paolo Maldini and Javier Zanetti respectively.
You can do a behind-the-scene stadium and museum tour to walk in the steps of champions.
Food Milan Is Known For
Risotto alla Milanese
Risotto is a type of rice dish originating from Italy. It uses short-grained rice called arborio, which is versatile and used in lots of Milano food. It has a more complex, sticky texture.
A specific risotto served in the Milanese way is creamy and strong. The arborio rice is soaked in chicken stock and white wine, and can sometimes include bone marrow. Mixing parmesan and heavy cream into the fold gives the dish more strength. Saffron and parsley are the key spices.
Often, this is served as a side to a main course. It is one of the popular Italian dishes to try.
Minestrone alla Milanese
Another classic recipe with a twist is Minestrone. First concocted in the country, the hearty Italian soup aimed to use up leftover ingredients from other meals to create an affordable yet delicious dinner.
The Milanese recipe uses vegetables such as green beans, zucchini, and cabbage. For the carb component, arborio rice is frequently used, the same as in risotto. This is a great vegetarian dish. Alternatively, you can add diced pancetta for extra protein.
Cotoletta alla Milanese
Cotoletta, otherwise known as veal cutlets, is a staple dish in restaurants in Milan. Traditionally it is pounded and served in thin cuts.
The delicate meat is breaded and fried, giving it a crunchy consistency in contrast to the mild flavor of the veal. When garnished with lemon, the flavor is complimented.
Usually, cotoletta ala Milanese is paired with side dishes. If you prefer a filling, substantial meal, fries are the way to go. On the other hand, an arugula salad is a healthier option.
Ossobuco has always been regarded as a sophisticated Milano food. Whilst it is not complex to make, it is time-consuming, however worth the effort.
The main ingredient is a cross-cut veal shank. As this meat is tough to chew, it must be cooked thoroughly until delicate, so that it can melt in your mouth. The recipe translates to ‘bone in a hole’, a reference to the bone marrow of the veal. It is braised with white wine, tomatoes, carrots, and celery.
Ossobuco is usually accompanied by a Milanese-style risotto.
In terms of Italian desserts, panettone is the star of the show. It is a sweet bread stuffed with candied fruits, yet some variations also include chocolate drops.
The sweet bread originates from 15th century Milan, by a baker named Toni. Locals state that he baked the cake to impress a lady whom he fell in love with, whilst others claim it was for the Duke of Milan. Regardless, the dessert was named ‘pane de toni’.
It is a snack or breakfast food in Italy enjoyed with coffee, especially around the holidays.
Famous People From Milan
Leonardo da Vinci
Some of the most famous things in Milan are paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, possibly the most famous Italian in history, active during the Renaissance period.
Da Vinci was best known as a painter. His murals such as the Last Supper on the Santa Maria delle Grazie wall, and Sala delle Asse in Sforzesco Castle, are just a fraction of his works in Milan. You can also find them at the Duomo, and Leonardo’s House.
In addition to painting, Da Vinci was an engineer and invented the parachute, flying machine, and even diving suits.
Overall, his contribution to modern-day society has been huge.
Alessandro Verri was a prominent author born in Milan.
Verri was heavily influenced by Shakespeare and was one of the first to translate his plays into Italian. As a result, he made it possible for his works to be understood and enjoyed globally. Similarly, Verri wrote two tragedies himself, which were accepted and popular.
His brother, Pietro Verri, was also a government official as well as a writer. Together they founded the Accademia dei Pugni, a cultural institution.
Paolo Maldidi is also known as ‘Il Capitano because he was captain of the national football team of Italy for 8 years. He was also a part of A.C. Milan, often taking the position of center-back.
Maldini is considered to be the best defender of all time. He partook in four World Cups and placed in the finals, as well as three UEFA championships.
He has won many awards, such as Sporting Director of the Year, even after his retirement. As a result, his legacy lives on.
Carlo Porta was a Milanese poet, renowned for his romanticism. He often wrote poignant monologues as well as political speeches and ironic parodies. Whilst his works took a while to catch on at first, many of his works eventually became published.
Furthermore, he created or developed dramatic characters, such as Meneghino. This is an amusing and intelligent servant, a traditional Milanese character used in many other works.
Porta’s remains can be found at the San Gregorio Church in Rome.
Discovering More Things Milan Is Known For
Milan is mostly famous for its fashion houses and artistic capabilities. From Milan Fashion Week to The Last Supper, there are many exciting opportunities that the city has to offer.
However, we must not let this overshadow the historical landmarks in Milan, such as the Duomo, which took six centuries to construct and is the third-largest Church in the world. Natural landmarks, such as sandy white beaches in Milan like Rimini, are also worth visiting.
As you visit the city, you will find that there is plenty more to discover in this European city. Take time to soak in the sights and enjoy some delicious street food in Italy.