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Business Travel Guide: Milan, Italy


Milan means business. Vibrant, open to fresh ideas and little inclined to rest on its laurels, the city has always been at the forefront of business and industry. Today, it is fashion and finance, in the past, it was industrial development, trade and banking. Not a city that springs immediately to mind when it comes to great art, but Milan's movers and shakers commissioned the likes of Leonardo da Vinci. In terms of sports, Milan Inter and AC Milan soccer clubs are constantly in the news, while the Italian Grand Prix is run at nearby Monza. Many of Italy's leading companies are based in and around Milan—a choice made by some 80 percent of foreign multinationals operating in Italy.

Many business visitors to Milan come for the trade fair events, the biggest being the Milan Furniture Fair, held in mid-April. Always vast, the Milan Fairgrounds complex moved to Rho in 2006, some 15km (10 miles) northeast of the city.

Milan can trace its origins back to the Celts. The Romans came along a while later, followed by others who believed the city to be strategically important: a crossroads between north and south, east and west.

These days, Milan still attracts visitors, particularly business people who spend their time between airports, offices and hotels, before rushing for flights to the next destination. Even if downtime is brief, there is plenty to do in Milan.


Facts to Know Before You Go

Currency:

The euro officially replaced the lira in 2002, thereby facilitating the lives of those traveling to several different European countries per business trip. Changing money at the airport is easy: exchange desks are open seven days a week, and two banks, Banca Popolare Italiana and Banca Popolare di Milano, operate from Monday through Friday. Otherwise, ATM machines, known in Italy as "bancomat" or "sportello automatico," are widespread in Milan and allow international credit and debit cardholders to draw euros from their checking accounts.

Transportation:

Airports:

Milan is served by two airports. International and intercontinental flights operate from Malpensa; Linate serves European and national flights. Malpensa, some 30 miles (50 km) from Milan city center, is served by a large number of major and several budget airlines. Malpensa also offers excellent shopping and a satisfactory choice of restaurants and cafés. There's also a pharmacy, a post office, a chapel and a luggage consignment service. The Malpensa Express train service connects Malpensa to the center of Milan (Cadorna Station), with trains departing every half-hour. The trip takes 40 minutes and costs 9 euro when bought at the ticket office and 11.50 euro when bought directly on the train. Cadorna station is linked to the red and green metro lines.

The Malpensa Shuttle bus service runs every 20 minutes from the airport to Milan Central Station (Stazione Centrale). The trip takes about 50 minutes and costs 4.50 euro. Milan Central Station is linked to the green and yellow metro lines.

For a 70-minute Malpensa-Linate connection, use the Malpensa Shuttle buses which leave either airport every 90 minutes and costs 7.75 euro.

Linate airport, just 4.5 miles (7 km) from the center of Milan, accommodates around 20 European carriers.

From Linate to Piazza San Babila in the city center, take the city bus number 73, which runs every ten minutes. The trip is only about 20 minutes and costs one euro, or the price of a single metro ticket. Piazza San Babila is served by the red metro line.

Public Transportation:

The city center is easy to navigate on foot but it is useful to know that Milan has an efficient subway, bus, tram, and trolley-car service.

The subway system (metro) comprises three color-coded train lines, red, green, and yellow, also called Linea 1, 2, 3. A single ticket enables passengers to travel on all urban transport. Single tickets are one euro each and are valid for 75 minutes from time the ticket is stamped. Business travelers may find it convenient to purchase a one or two-day travel card for 3 euro or 5.50 euro. Note that visitors to the Milan Fiera at Rho need a special metro ticket, costing 2.10 euro.

Buses, Trams and Trolleys:

The ATM, or Azienda Trasporti Milanesi, is the local transportation authority and responsible for shuttling hundreds of millions of passengers a year. In addition to the vast rail network connecting Milan with its surroundings and the rest of the world, an extensive system of buses, trams and trolleys transport travelers above ground. To take a ride on a vintage 1920 tram, the Tram Turistico allows you to make your own itinerary and happens to be a great way to visit the city. A 20 euro day pass is available on the corner of Via Marconi and Piazza Duomo.

Taxis:

Taxis in Milan are white. It is not customary to hail taxis in Milan, or the rest of Italy for that matter. You either go to a taxi rank, these being located at stations and other important locations, or call for one (02 4040). Except during the Milan Fashion Weeks, or the Furniture Fair, a cab called to a central city location can be with you in the space of ten minutes.

The fare from Malpensa to the city center is about 75 euro and the trip can take up to an hour and a half in traffic. Taxi fare from Linate to the city center is usually no more than 20 euro.

Information:

The main Italian-language national daily newspapers are the Corriere della Sera, and La Repubblica. The business press includes Il Sole 24 Ore, the country's leading daily financial paper, and Milano Finanza. The International Herald Tribune is widely available at city center newsstands, along with the European edition of the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. Despite the wealth of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues that rival those of Rome, a city four times its size, Milan does not have a dedicated listings magazine, although the Wednesday issue of the Corriere della Sera includes ViviMilano, a booklet offering a brief overview of what's on during the week.


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Where to Stay

Hotel Principe di Savoia Milano
Piazza della Repubblica, 17
20214 Milan
39-02-62301
www.hotelprincipedisavoia.com

Hotel Principe di Savoia Milano
Ideally situated close to the city's business district, the Principe di Savoia has long been the most luxurious hotel in all of Milan. Since its inauguration in 1927, the hotel has attracted business travelers, as well as leading politicians and foreign dignitaries, not to mention movie and rock stars. Its 400 plus rooms are regally appointed, and the presidential suite even boasts a private, frescoed swimming pool and rooftop terrace. For meetings and conferences, the Principe di Savoia has some twenty different meeting spaces and comes complete with high-tech equipment, including fast Internet access. After a long day of deal making, guests can sneak off to Club 10, a full-service health, fitness and beauty spa. Dining options include the hotel's Acanto restaurant, an elegant but intimate venue. The less formal Café Doney, with its soothing view of the gardens, is a perfect choice for lunch. Don't pass up an evening cocktail in the piano bar, where a stunning stained-glass dome mesmerizes the clientele.

Four Seasons Hotel Milano
Via Gesù, 6/8
20121 Milan
39-02-77088
www.fourseasons.com/milan
Four Seasons Hotel Milano

A restored 15th-century convent with its cloistered garden serves as a picturesque backdrop to this all-service establishment located in the fashion core of the city between Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. Conference and meeting rooms are available for all types of events, including elaborate banquets and receptions. An experienced team is ready to provide guests with planning and administrative assistance while a vast array of technological equipment is also available. Down-time can be spent at the fitness center and spa. A lternatively, have the hotel arrange a golf outing at one of several nearby courses. The hotel's two restaurants offer impeccable cuisine and service as well as impressive environments in which to conduct business. A power-breakfast at Veranda is a sure bet. Dinner at Il Teatro, one of the city's best restaurants, is sure to impress, while the plush piano bar, open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., is conducive to intimate conversation.


The Gray
Via San Raffaele, 6
20121 Milan
39-02-7208951
www.hotelthegray.com
The Gray

A small, superbly sophisticated boutique hotel smack in the center of town between the Duomo and La Scala, The Gray offers high–tech amenities, including a fast wireless connection and flat-screen TVs, in a relaxing atmosphere of subdued elegance. A meeting room with a capacity for twelve people is impressive with its view of Milan’s historic neighborhood. Perfect for quiet conversations and working dinners, the restaurant and bar are a haven of peace with a conservatively chic color scheme and soft, flattering lighting.



Park Hyatt
Via Tommaso Grossi 1
20121 Milan
39-02-8821 1234
www.milan.park.hyatt.com
Park Hyatt

Located just minutes from La Scala and the Duomo, this hotel is an oasis of serenity in the heart of the city. The delightful top-lit lounge is a perfect rendezvous point, while the three conference rooms offer all the amenities required for successful meetings. Offering an impressive contemporary Mediterranean menu, the hotel's Park Restaurant is ideal for a relaxing lunch or dinner, or for sealing a deal.


Grand Hotel et De Milan
Via Manzoni 29
20121 Milan
39-02-723141
www.grandhoteletdemilan.it
Grand Hotel et De Milan

The Grand Hotel exudes old-world elegance on the Via Manzoni, just steps away from major shopping and La Scala Opera House F irst opened in 1863, it became the long-time residence of composer Giuseppe Verdi as well as acquiring renown as the premier business hotel in Milan for being the first to offer in-room telephones. A veritable vestige of 19th-century sophistication with its steel and glass lobby atrium, finely and originally furnished guest rooms, and antique wood l ined elevators, the property feels more like a private residence than a hotel. Three royally elegantly appointed meeting halls are available for small banquets and intimate events. A glass-enclosed fitness center is particularly pleasant with its view onto a peaceful courtyard. Dining options include the warm, gallery-like setting of the exclusive restaurant Don Carlos, where chef Alfredo Russo has crafted an intriguing tasting menu, complemented by a serious selection of fine wines. The light and airy restaurant Caruso is perfect for breakfast meetings and working lunches while the hotel bar is an elegant space in which to linger over an afternoon cappuccino or evening cocktails.


Where to Dine

Bice
Via Borgospesso, 12
20121 Milan
39-02-76002572
www.bicemilano.it

 

Bice

Like its New York counterpart, Bice is the place to see and be seen. A simple yet sophisticated space and a vast Milanese and Tuscan menu make for a perfect blend of upscale and casual, especially at lunchtime. Antipasti include Italian cured meats, marinated vegetables, and a selection of seafood starters. An impressive assortment of pasta, risotto and even soup dishes, is followed by a meat or fish options. Desserts range from the traditional, with favorites such as panna cotta and tiramisu, to the more adventurous: try the carpaccio of pineapple with maraschino liqueur-flavored sorbet, or peaches poached in amaretto. The four "business lunch" prix-fixe menus including a vegetarian option, are attractive at between 20 and 30 euro. Closed Sundays (and also Saturdays in July, three weeks in August, two weeks between Christmas and January 6 and four days over Easter).


Boeucc
Piazza Belgioioso, 2
20121 Milan
39-02-76020224
www.boeucc.it

 

Boeucc

One of the oldest and most historic of restaurants in the center of Milan, the strange-sounding name Boeucc—pronounced "birch"—is actually the old Milanese word for "bottega," as the site was once home to a wine bar. Today, the ornate colonnaded space puts some pomp back into dining where classic Milanese dishes such as golden saffron risotto and succulent veal cutlet are served with ceremony. Count on a comprehensive and distinguished wine list and prices on the high side. Closed Saturday, Sunday lunchtime, August, Easter Monday, and December 23 to January 2.


Trattoria alle Langhe
Corso Como 6
20154 Milan
39-02-6554279
www.trattoriaallelanghe.com

 

Trattoria alle Langhe

Corso Como is one of the absolute must-see boutiques in town. This long-established eatery offers two options. On the ground floor is the main restaurant, offering Piedmont and Milanese specialties complemented by fine wines. On the first floor is a salad bar for a more casual approach to lunch. Closed Sundays, and the last three weeks in August.


Torre di Pisa
Via Fiori Chiari, 21/5
20121 Milan
39-02-874877
www.trattoriatorredipisa.it

 

Torre di Pisa

This classic Tuscan restaurant located in the Brera district, a short walk from Piazza della Scala, and around the corner from the Brera art gallery, has established a loyal clientele over many years, drawing local residents and many journalists from the nearby newspaper Corriere della Sera. The décor is rustic and warm yet perfectly appropriate for a serious business dinner. Reservations essential. Closed Saturday lunchtime, August.


Don Lisander
Via Alessandro Manzoni, N. 12/A
20121 Milan
39-02-76020130
www.ristorantedonlisander.it

 

Don Lisander

The nickname for Italian novelist and poet responsible for I Promessi Sposi, Alessandro Manzoni, Don Lisander has a distinct, old Milan feel to it with classic cooking and a lovely, spacious garden for summer dining. There's also an extensive wine cellar. If you are feeling adventurous and are in Milan during the winter, sample the Milanese specialty cassoeula, pork with cabbage reminiscent of the Southwestern French dish, cassoulet.


Ristorante Cracco
Via Victor Hugo 4
20121 Milan
39-02-876774
 

Carlo Cracco's restaurant is an intriguing dining experience. If nothing else, lunch or dinner here may be best suited to when the time comes to celebrate business well done. Minimalist chic for the décor, maximum attention to detail in the menu, with an astounding wine list. Just 70 covers, and much in demand, so reservations are essential. Closed Saturday lunch, Sunday all day, Monday lunch, August, December 20-January 7.


Off the Clock

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele

"The living room of Milan" is one way of describing this cast-iron, glass and mosaic monument to Milanese "dolce vita." Constructed between 1865 and 1877, this Belle Epoque mall is the work of architect Giuseppe Mengoni. Designed in the form of a cross, the arms of the galleria meet at its octagonal core, above which rises an immense cupola. This astounding arcade links the Piazza della Scala the north with the Piazza Duomo to the south and houses the elegant Savini restaurant, recently-opened with the addition of a café, a number of bars suited to people-watching, and some of the top names in designer fashion. The original (1913) Prada boutique, has recently been joined by Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tod's. Located on the corner of Piazza del Duomo with its fine mosaics and elegant wrought-iron detailing, Zucca in Galleria, also known as the Camparino bar, is a perfect location for sipping a cappuccino (or cappuccio, as it is called in Milan), or a glass of sparkling prosecco wine. For a meal in the Galleria, if Savini is too formal, try Biffi. Risotto, veal Milanese and tiramisu for dessert are sure bets in this simply sophisticated spot, perfect for dining alone while watching the well-heeled world walk by.

Duomo
Piazza Duomo, 14
20121 Milano
02 860358
www.duomomilano.it

DuomoSacrosanct symbol of the city, the Duomo was built entirely in marble. Begun in the late 14th century. A mazingly, it was only completed in 1966! This enormous, intricately- sculpted Italian Gothic cathedral features thousands of statues, including a Madonna located at an altitude of 350 feet, and resplendent stained glass windows. The soaring interior seems empty compared to its fantastical façade, but it does contain the unique reliquary of the Sacro Chiodo della Croce, or the sacred nail of the cross. If you are fortunate enough to be in Milan on a clear day, a visit to the roof the Duomo is a must. In addition to a splendid panoramic view of the city, this vantage point also affords the vistas of the Alps, reminding us that the mountains are not that far away, and that a ski weekend is more than feasible.

Pinacoteca di Brera
Via Brera, 28
20121 Milan
39-02-722631
www.brera.beniculturali.it

Pinacoteca di BreraA free afternoon and an interest in Italian painting, as well as a lot of stamina, are enough to warrant a visit to this vast picture gallery (pinacoteca, in Italian), considered one of the best in all of Italy. Permanent collections present an overview of Italian painting from the Renaissance through the 20th century, with special emphasis on the Venetian masters and Lombard painting, between the 16th and the 18th centuries. Also on view here is a rich collection of more modern works including the Italian futurists as well as a fine grouping of Italian sculptures.

Museo Cenacolo Vinciano
Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2
20121 Milano
39-02-89421146
www.cenacolovinciano.org

Santa Maria delle GrazieIt may vie with the Duomo as the most important artwork in town, but—unlike the Duomo, which is always to be seen—getting to glimpse Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" fresco is no easy matter. Located in the refectory of the late Gothic Lombard church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built in the 15th century. An extraordinary example of linear perspective, the Last Supper, one of da Vinci's most complex works, is only available to view by prior appointment. At the last count, at least one month's notice was required. And when you get your reservation, note that you only get 15 minutes.

Teatro alla Scala
Largo Ghiringhelli
Piazza della Scala, 1
20121 Milano
39-02-88792473
www.teatroallascala.org

Teatro alla ScalaThe theatre of La Scala, designed by the great neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, was inaugurated in 1778. La Scala's artistic history begins with the period of traditional Neapolitan comic operas, or "opera buffa." In the late 18th century a growing appreciation of the French neoclassical movement paved the way for a more radical style of musical theatre. Rossini's romantic opera eventually replaced the "opera buffa" and La Scala became the authority of the popular Italian melodrama, a tradition which persists even today. It was also in the first quarter of the 19th century when La Scala performed its first ballet and several foreign operas such as Mozart's "Magic Flute." But it wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that La Scala truly opened its doors to the world's growing repertoire of "new" music, featuring the works of composers such as Strauss, Stravinsky and Debussy. The 20th century proved a prolific time for La Scala and, despite damage suffered from wartime bombings in 1943, the theater enjoyed its highest point of creative productivity with the performances of artists including Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Try to take in a performance if you are here between the beginning of December and the end of June, and if you can manage to get tickets.


Also check our Italy Travel Guide.

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* Duomo image by Matteo Di Nicola

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(Updated: 05/09/12 BH)

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