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Region Lombardy
Province Milan (MI)
Altitude 120
Area city proper 182
Population as of December 31, 2004
Population density 1,308,311
Population density metric 6,988
Population urban 4,300.000
Population metro 7,400.000
Timezone CET, UTC+1
Telephone 02
Postalcode 20100
Gentilic Milanesi
Saint St. Ambrose
Mayor Letizia Moratti
Milan's cathedral, 'Domm' in Lombard, 'Duomo' in Italian
Together with the Duomo, the Castello Sforzesco is the main monument of Milan.

Milan (Italian: Milano; Milanese: Milán) is the main city of northern Italy, located in the plains of Lombardy. The city has about 1,308,500 inhabitants (2004), but the population of the urban area (Great Milan, or La Grande Milano) is about 4,280,820 people (2006 estimate). In European terms, Milan's metropolitan area covers an area similar to that of Paris with a population of more than 7 million people. Milan's so-called Regional city (Città Regione) has more than 9.4 million inhabitants. This area is comparable to the Combined Statistical Areas (CSAs) of the United States. By population, Milan is Italy's largest city, leading Rome by a wide margin. Municipal borders wrap a small area (about a half of Rome, for instance), but they should be dealt with as a purely historical attestation. Milan is an alpha world full service city in GaWc inventory. It is worthwile noting that the urban agglomeration includes, as scientific community states, Swiss territories in Canton Ticino: this does not means any kind of administrative unity, though.

Milan's name comes from the Celtic Medelhan, meaning "in the middle of the plain", due either to its location in a plain close to the confluence of two small rivers, the Olona and the Seveso, or perhaps due to its being close to and roughly equidistant from two major rivers, the Ticino and the Adda. Its Latin name, Mediolanum roughly meaning "wool in the middle" also built on Celtic lore: Celts saw the boar as a mythical animal, and according to a prophecy, the site for the settlement would have been indicated to a Celtic king by the appearance of a wild pig or boar with a ridge of hair along its back, as reported by Cardano around 1626:

Nel fabricar de le superbe mura
De la prima Città ch'abbian gl'Insubri
Uscì da i fondamenti un gran Cinghiale,
Mezzo di pel setoso, e mezzo ignudo,
Onde MILAN chiamossi
Da gli Hedui, o Borgognoni, o pur da i Franchi,
Da cui l'origine hebbe,
Che altri di MEZZA LANA dir potrebbe


While building the majestic wall
Of the first Town of Insubres
From the foundation a big boar came
Half with silk hair, and half bare
Therefore MILAN was called
From Hedui, or Burgundians or even from Franks
From which the origin came
That other could call of half wool

Today the boar is still sometimes used as a symbol of the city. According to another explanation, Mediolanum comes from a corruption of In medio lanorum, meaning between the rivers - actually Milan still includes the two small rivers of Olona and Seveso.

The German name for the city is Mailand,, while in the local Western Lombard dialect, the city's name is Milán, pronounced quite as in French.

Its province lies in the western part of Lombardy; it covers an area of 1,981 square kilometers and has a population of 3,839,216 (2005); in 1991, the population was 3,738,685. The province comprises 188 communes, ranging in population (2001) from Milan Municipality (1,308,311) to Nosate (638); the city of Milan has lost 113,084 inhabitants (8.3 percent), from 1991 to 2001.

The city is one of the major commercial and financial centres in the World. The city is famous for fashion firms and shops (via Montenapoleone) and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the Piazza Duomo, reputed to be the world's oldest shopping mall. Milan is one of the world capitals of fashion—like New York City, Paris, London, Tokyo—and design. Indeed the English word milliner is derived from the name of the city. Another famed product of the city is the traditional Christmas sweet cake Panettone. Milan is also famous for the Alfa Romeo motorcar and for its silk production. Milan is also one of the richest cities in the European Union.

Inhabitants of Milan are referred to as "Milanese" (Italian: Milanesi or informally Meneghini or Ambrosiani).

Milan hosted the World Exposition in 1906.


It is presumed Milan was originally founded by the Celts of Northern Italy around 600 BC and was conquered around 222 BC by the Romans, who gave it the name of Mediolanum. In the 4th century, at the time of the bishop Saint Ambrose and Emperor Theodosius I, the city was briefly the capital of the Western Roman Empire. At that time Milan was the second largest city in Europe, with more than 300,000 inhabitants. St Ambrose is now the Patron Saint of the city.

File:Milan 1158.jpg
Plan of Milan during the siege of 1158 by Frederick Barbarossa.
The basilica of San Lorenzo in winter.

In the 11th century, after the Ostrogothic and Lombard periods, the city regained its importance and led other Italian cities in gaining semi-independence from the Holy Roman Empire (wars of the Lombard League against the emperor Frederick Barbarossa). During the Middle Ages Milan became one of the most rich and powerful cities of Europe (due its commerce and industries) and conquered and influenced great part of northern Italy. At the start of 13th century the city touched the number of 200,000 inhabitants and during the Plague of 1349 Milan was one of the few places in Europe that was untouched by the epidemic, but it was deeply affected by the plagues of 1402 (50,000 deaths), 1542 (80,000), 1576 (17,000) and 1629 (also known as Great Plague of Milan, 70,000 deaths). During the Renaissance Milan was ruled by dukes of the Visconti and Sforza families, who had artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante at their service. After trying to conquer the rest of northern Italy in the 15th century, Milan was conquered by France, and then later on by Austria (Habsburg), then given in the early 16th century to the Spanish Habsburg line to rule.

In the 18th century Austria replaced Spain as Milan's overlord, because the Spanish line of Habsburgs died out. But the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars saw the city annexed into the French satellite states of the Cisalpine Republic, which later became the Kingdom of Italy. After this period, Milan was part of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia under Austrian rule. Milan eventually became one of the main centers of Italian nationalism, claiming independence and the unification of Italy.

In 1859 (after the second of the Wars of Italian Independence) Austrian rule was ended by the Kingdom of Sardinia (which transformed into the kingdom of Italy in 1861). The newly formed Savoy monarchy encouraged the use of the Neo-Renaissance style as a way to express patriotism, an excellent example of which is the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in via Gesù, 5, [1].

See also: Rulers of Milan.

As a critical industrial center of Italy, Milan was the target of continuous carpet bombing during World War II. The city was bombed even after Pietro Badoglio surrendered to the allied forces in 1943 - Milan was part of Mussolini's Italian Social Republic puppet state, and an important command centre of the German Army stationed in Italy. When war in Italy was finally over, April 25 1945, Milan had been heavily damaged and entire neighborhoods such as Precotto and Turro were destroyed. After the war, the city was reconstructed and has again become an important financial and industrial centre of Italy. More than the 30% of the buildings were completely destroyed and another 30% were so heavily damaged that they were demolished in the first years after the war. Most of those buildings are located in the city centre. Hundreds of buildings built in the last 1,000 years were lost.


Milan's climate is sub-continental, with little in common with the Mediterranean climate Italy is famous for. The average daily winter temperature in Milan is around 6°C (44°F), occasionally reaching -5/-10°C (23/14°F), and it receives about 40 cm (15 in) of snow each year. During summer, the maximum temperature averages 28°C (83°F) and can soar up to 35/37°C (100-104°F), and thunderstorms occur quite often. Humidity is quite high during the whole year and yearly rain averages 1000 mm (40 in).


A greengrocer in central Milan with a sign in Milanese, the local dialect, claiming to be 'the oldest greengrocer of Milan' (l'ortolán püŝee vêcc de Milan).

Milan is one of the major financial and business centres in Europe. The city is the seat of the Italian Stock Exchange (la Borsa Valori) and its hinterland is an avant-garde industrial area. Fiera Milano, the city's Exhibition Center and Trade Fair complex, is notable. This new fairground, in the north-western suburb of Pero and Rho (opened in April 2005), is Europe's largest open construction project, making Fiera Milano the largest trade fair complex in the world. Milan is one of the world capital for fashion and the world leader for design. The town is also one of the richest cities in the European Union.

Milan was included in a list of ten "Alpha world cities" by Peter J. Taylor and Robert E. Lang of the Brookings Institution in the economic report "U.S. Cities in the 'World City Network'" (Key Findings, Full Report).

Famous firms in Milan

Culture and art

La Scala by night
File:St Cristoforo of Milan.jpg
The church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio Grande.

Milan is one of the most important centres in the world for Opera lirica, with its famous Teatro alla Scala (La Scala, theatre).

The Biblioteca Ambrosiana contains drawings and notebooks by Leonardo da Vinci among its vast holdings of books, manuscripts, and drawings, and is one of the main repositories of European culture. The city is also the home of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts.

In the church Santa Maria delle Grazie can be found one of the most famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci: The Last Supper (it: "Cenacolo").




The city has a large international airport known as Malpensa International Airport (MXP), located in the northern suburb of Busto Arsizio and connected to the downtown with the "Malpensa Express" railway service (from Cadorna Station). Malpensa was designed by the famous Ettore Sottsass. Milan also has the Linate Airport (LIN) within the city limits (for European and domestic traffic), connected with bus line 73 (from S. Babila). A third airport is Orio al Serio (BGY), close to the city of Bergamo. Vergiate, Venegono, Bresso, Voghera and Montichiari are further airports in the region. The main three airports of Milano comprise the largest and most important hub in Italy, both for passengers and cargo.

Subways, tramways, and buses

File:Loghi MSR - Milano.PNG
Milan's transportation system (M-S-R Lines)
S Lines map.

Milan has 3 subway lines (M1 - red, M2 - green, M3 - yellow) and the system, called Milan Metro - "M", running for more than 80 km. There is also a light metro-service, "Metrò S. Raffaele", connecting the S. Raffaele Hospital with the Cascina Gobba station (M2). Extensions of lines 1, 2 and 3 are under construction, to create more than 15 km of track with 10 new stations. Line 5 is also under construction, to be finished in the first half of 2008. Lines 4 (linking downtown with Linate Airport) and 6 are in planning stages.

Greater Milan also has one of the most extensive tramway systems in the world, with more than 286 km of track, and 20 lines.

Ninety-three bus lines cover over 1,070 km between them. The local transportation authority (ATM) transported more than 600 million passengers in 2003 .

National railway

Milan is one of the most important railway hubs of Italy, and the five major stations of Milan are among Italy's busiest:

  • Milano Centrale (passenger station - the second busiest Italian station)
  • Milano P.ta Garibaldi (passenger station)
  • Milano Lambrate (passenger station)
  • Milano Rogoredo (passenger station and cargo station)
  • Milano Greco (passenger station)
  • Milano San Cristoforo (passenger and cargo station)
  • Milano Porta Romana (passenger and cargo station)
  • Milano Certosa (passenger station)
  • Milano Smistamento/Scalo Farini (cargo-trains)
  • Milano Romolo (passenger station).

Other new stations for passenger service are under construction:

  • Milano Tibaldi
  • Milano/Rho Fiera

High speed train lines are under construction all across Italy, and new lines will open from Milan to Rome and Naples, and from Milan to Torino. The stations for the TAV (Treni ad Alta Velocità - High Speed Trains) will be:

  • Milano Rogoredo (for the south)
  • Milano Certosa and Milano/Rho Fiera (for the west)

A line from Milan to Venice and then to Trieste is under construction. At the end of the work, the TAV station for Milan to the east will be:

  • Milano Pioltello

Regional-Metropolitan Railway services

The Suburban Railway Service ( "S" Lines, a service similar to the French RER and German S-Bahn), composed of eight suburban lines and ten more scheduled for 2008, connects the "Greater Milan" to cities such as Como and Varese. The Regional Railway Service ("R"), instead, links Milan with the rest of Lombardy and the national railway system. The "Passante ferroviario" is an underground railway serving a couple of "S" lines and is very much like another subway line (and is even marked as such on subway maps), except that it is connected to LeNord and Trenitalia suburban networks.


Milan has a taxi service operated by private companies and licensed by the City of Milan (Comune di Milano). All taxis are the same color, white. Prices are based on time elapsed and distance traveled. As the number of licences is kept low by lobbying of present taxi drivers, prices are fairly high (significantly higher than, for example, in New York) and finding a taxi may be difficult in rush hours.


Football is the most important sport in Italy, and Milan is home to two world-famous football teams: A.C. Milan and Internazionale. The former is normally referred to as "Mìlan" (notice the stress on the first syllable, unlike the English and Milanese name of the city), the latter as "Inter".

Milan is the only city in Europe whose teams have won both the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup. Both teams play at Giuseppe Meazza - San Siro Stadium (85,700). Many of the strongest Italian football players were born in Milan, in the surrounding metropolitan area, or in Lombardy: Valentino Mazzola, Paolo Maldini, Giuseppe Meazza, Giacinto Facchetti, Paolo Rossi, Luigi Riva, Gaetano Scirea, Giuseppe Bergomi, Walter Zenga, Antonio Cabrini, Roberto Donadoni, Gianluca Vialli, Silvio Piola, Giampiero Boniperti, Gabriele Oriali, Giovanni Trapattoni and Franco Baresi as well as many others.

  • The famous Monza Formula One circuit is located in the suburbs. It is one of the world's oldest car racing circuits, and one of the most famous. The capacity for the F1 races is currently around 137,000 spectators, although in the 1950s the stands could hold more than 250,000. It has hosted an F1 race nearly every year since the first year of competition, exception made of 1980.
  • Olimpia Milano is a successful European basketball team that have won 3 European Cups, a World Cup, 3 Winners' Cups, 2 Korac Cups and 25 National Championships. It is the most important Italian team and one of the top 5 in Europe. Olimpia play at the Forum (capacity 14,000).
  • Rhinos Milano American Football Club is the oldest American football club in Milan, the team have won 4 Italian Superbowl and was one of the five Italian Football League founding fathers
  • The Amatory Rugby Club Milano have won 18 National Championships and are the most famous and important Rugby team in Italy.
  • Different ice hockey teams from Milan have won 30 National Championships between them. The Vipers Milano have won the last 4 national championships, the Alpenliga and several Coppa Italia, and are the leaders of that sport in Italy. They play at the Agora Stadium (capacity 4,500) during the regular season, and at the Forum during playoffs .
  • Every year, Milan hosts the Bonfiglio Trophy Under 18 Tennis Tournament. It is the most important youth tournament in the world, and is played at the Milan Tennis Club. The central court has a capacity of 8000. Past winners include Tacchini, Kodes, Panatta, Barazzutti, Moreno, Björn Borg, Smid, Ivan Lendl, Guy Forget, Curier, Goran Ivanisevic, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and Coira.

Milan and Lombardy are candidates for the Summer Olympic Games of 2020 ("Milan-Lombardy 2020").


  • Autodromo Nazionale Monza - car and motorcycle racing - 137,000
  • San Siro - only football - 85,700
  • Arena Civica - Athletic, Rugby, Football, American Football 30,000
  • Brianteo - Athletic, Football - 18,568
  • Ippodromo del Trotter - Horse Racing - 16,000
  • Ippodromo del Galoppo - Horse Racing - 15,000
  • Forum di Assago - Basketball, Ice Hockey, Volleyball, Music - 13,000 to 16,000
  • MazdaPalace - Basketball, Volleyball - 13,500
  • Velodromo Vigorelli - Cycling, American Football - 12,000
  • PalaLido - Basketball - 5,000
  • Agorà - Ice Hockey - 4,000
  • Nuovo Giuriati - Rugby - 4,000

There are other stadiums and multiuse palaces located in the metropolitan area, the biggest being Monza Brianteo Stadium (18,000 seats), the PalaDesio (10,000) and Geas Stadium (8,500).

Communication & media

Milan is the base of operations for many local and nationwide communication services and businesses, such as newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations.



  • Panorama (weekly)
  • La Settimana Enigmistica

See also

External links

Regional Capitals of Italy
L'Aquila (Abruzzo) · Aosta (Aosta Valley) · Bari(Apulia) · Potenza (Basilicata) · Catanzaro (Calabria) · Naples (Campania) · Bologna (Emilia-Romagna)

Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) · Rome (Lazio) · Genoa (Liguria) · Milan (Lombardy) · Ancona (Marche) · Campobasso (Molise) · Turin (Piedmont)
Cagliari (Sardinia) · Palermo (Sicily) · Trento (Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) · Florence (Tuscany) · Perugia (Umbria) · Venice (Veneto)

Regions of Italy
AbruzzoAosta ValleyApuliaBasilicataCalabriaCampaniaEmilia-RomagnaFriuli-Venezia GiuliaLazioLiguriaLombardyMarcheMolisePiedmontSardiniaSicilyTrentino-South TyrolTuscanyUmbriaVeneto