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Milan is the most cosmopolitan city in Italy, situated on the central plains of the Po Valley, 122 metres above sea level and just 50 miles from the Alps. It is widely recognised as the financial and economic capital of Italy, a city that oozes sophistication and culture.
Read more on this destination in The AA City Guide to Milan.
The history of Milan
Mediolanum, the Roman precursor of modern-day Milan, became the seat of rulers of the Western Empire in 286AD, and it was here that Constantine gave his approval to Christianity in 313AD. From the 13th to the 16th century, Milan was ruled by dynastic families. Under the rule of Viscontis, the city became powerful through marriage with other European royal houses, and under the Sforzas, art and culture flourished, enriching the city with some of its finest monuments. The late 16th century saw the start of 300 years of foreign rule by the French, Spanish and Austrians, an era when Milan developed into Italy's economic capital. The city was bombed extensively during World War II and much of the city has been rebuilt since 1945. In the historic centre, Milan's main sights span the city's history. There are traces of the original Roman city of Mediolanum, once the seat of Emperor Constantine, and impressive buildings dating from the 13th - 16th centuries, when Milan was ruled by a series of dynastic families. The buildings devoted to culture and commerce - the opera house, the art galleries, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (one of Europe's first malls) - are a reminder of Milan's 19th century surge to the prosperity it enjoys today.
Milan today is a buzzing city which retains its status as Italy's most economic and cultural region. With a population of over 1.3 million people, the city has a balanced mix of ancient and modern surroundings which makes it such a unique destination. Modern glass buildings provide the backdrop to the city's monuments such as the historic Arch of Peace and the Palazzo di Brera. Nowadays, Milan is the major centre for finance, publishing and commerce. More recently it has become one of Italy's main design and fashion hubs, with the annual Milan Fashion Week and many talented new designers branching out from the city. One of Italy's biggest television studios is also based here and has put Milan on the country's media map.