Milan was once coveted by Roman generals, Austrian emperors and French kings alike for its wealth and fertile land. Its strategic position between Rome and northwestern Europe ensured the city’s prosperity over the centuries. Dominated by the Romans until the fall of their Empire in 402, the village formerly known as Mediolanum was successively conquered by the Lombards, Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa and various powerful families, including the Visconti and Sforza clans. After a long period under Spanish rule, Milan became the capital of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Cisalpine Republic, was united with Austria in 1815 and, finally, joined the recently-established Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
The economic and cultural capital of Italy, modern-day Milan is a lively, cosmopolitan and modern city that stands apart from the rest of the country. The pulse of modern Italian life beats in Milan, home to 1.3 million people who are renowned for their elegance and refinement. The fashion Mecca of Europe, Milan lives life to the fullest and leaves no room for nonchalance. Its plazas, cafes and streets are veritable beehives of activity, with locals taking part in animated discussions on shopping, soccer and politics.
Located at the foot of the Alps, in the heart of Northern Italy, the capital of the region of Lombardy lies less than an hour from the famous Como, Garda and Maggiore lakes. Ideal for romantic strolls, the lakes' surroundings offer spectacular views of enchanting villas, lush gardens, castle ruins and medieval churches.