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Moving to ​Milan

Milan, located in northern Italy, is the country’s second-largest city. It is the centre of the wealthy Lombardy region and is home to a large expat population.

While Rome is the political and historical heart of Italy, Milan is its financial leader and cultural trendsetter. Home to the country’s stock exchange and the offices of many multinational corporations, modern Milan is a buzzing commercial centre that’s best known as one of the world’s fashion capitals.

The city has a reputation for being incredibly work-orientated, but the work-life balance remains favourable thanks to its many annual events and varied social opportunities, especially those related to design.

As a key element of the lifestyle in Milan, fashion is a top priority for many residents and the Milanese people seem to do everything with style. They are also passionate about food and sports. As such, there are plenty of restaurants, shops and cultural attractions, and watching one of the city’s top two football teams, the globally renowned AC Milan and FC Internazionale, in action at the local stadium is a must.

Properties in Milan are some of the most expensive in Italy, but the choices are varied and include everything from inner-city apartments to spacious suburban villas and beyond. An extensive public transport system makes it easy to get from home to work and school.

Milan also has a good selection of public schools, but expats who don’t intend on staying too long might prefer to send their children to one of the city's several international schools.

Despite being known for its man-made attractions such as Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Last Supper and the Duomo, Milan's central Gothic cathedral, natural beauty is within easy reach. Milan is near the Italian northern lakes, the Alps and the Dolomites – a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The climate isn’t typically Mediterranean, but summers are hot and humid, with temperatures rising above 30°C (86°F). Winters are cold and wet with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing.

Expats who enjoy working in Italy's commercial centre while bathing in the splendour of one of the most fashionable cities in the world will find Milan to be a glorious expat destination.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Milan

Milan is known as Italy’s commercial centre, a cityscape of old-world elegance meeting the high-end tastes of the rich and famous. A landmark of both refined culture and industrialisation, it has rebranded itself as a leader in fields such as design, information technology and textiles.

While perhaps not as pretty as Venice or Rome, the city is rich in history, famed for its delicious food and, of course, a hub of fashion design and luxury boutiques. It's also home to two of Italy's biggest football clubs and one of world football's most famous rivalries.


Lifestyle in Milan

+PRO: Cultural treasure trove

While not on the same scale as Rome, there is a real presence of a glorious past. The Duomo di Milano is an architectural marvel of Gothic brilliance, and the Carnevale Ambrosiano celebrates the city’s patron saint, while the nearby Piazza del Duomo is the centrepoint for arts and culture. But the city also boasts more contemporary drawcards such as the Milano Film Festival and Milan Fashion Week.

+PRO: Fashion paradise

Befitting its status as one of the four fashion capitals of the world, Milan's calendar highlight is perhaps the famed Milan Fashion Week. Outside of the festival, the Quadrilatero della Moda will delight shoppers with a penchant for high fashion. Boutiques and outlets of only the most sophisticated brands abound, including anything from Versace, Armani and Jimmy Choo, to Guess, Bagutta and Hugo Boss.

-CON: Language barriers

Not many Italians speak English and this language barrier can be very tough to overcome. So be prepared to struggle if you don’t put in at least a little basic prep. Having said that, there’s generally more English spoken in northern Italy in cities such as Milan.

+PRO: Outdoor retreats

Families looking to get away for some peace and quiet are an hour’s train trip from the serene Lake Garda, the biggest lake in the country. Its ornate towns and villages are the perfect tonic when the buzz of city life becomes a little too much.

+PRO: Racing royalty

Petrolheads will be delighted to know that the Monza racing track is a simple half-an-hour drive away. It’s been the site of the Italian Grand Prix ever since the inception of Formula One.


Safety in Milan

+PRO: Very safe

Milan is safe, with pickpockets the only real threat. While there are areas best avoided – as in all cities – there might also be scammers in tourist hotspots such as the Duomo, so avoid handing over money to strangers.


Cost of Living in Milan

+PRO: Getting around is cheap

Italy in general and Milan in particular might be rather expensive, but a saving grace is the cost of public transport, which isn’t that high, especially if expats use an ATM travel card. Tickets can be used on the tram, metro, bus or train. Most people avoid cars altogether because of both congestion charges and high gas prices.

-CON: Milan is expensive

Milan is one of the most expensive cities in Italy, behind perhaps only Rome. So it's best if you shop smart and buy groceries at local markets instead of dining out at tourist traps. Of course, accommodation will be the biggest enemy of your bank account, especially with the high property rates in Milan.


Working in Milan

+PRO: Diverse economy

In the past, if you were earning a salary in Milan you might have found yourself working in the city's massive textile industry or finance sector. Nowadays, a broadened and diversified economy means there’s jobs in design, communications, fashion design and tech.

-CON: Decline in traditional sectors

Italy as a whole has endured tough economic times for more than a decade. Recent recessions mean that the once powerful banking industry in Milan is in a vulnerable state, while its industrial sector has declined substantially. Having said that, financial powerhouses still have a large presence in the city and it would be unwise to think the city has become an irrelevant player in the financial game.


Raising Kids in Milan

+PRO: Abundance of international schools

There’s a large variety of international schools in Milan so expats will be spoilt for choice. American, German, British and French curricula are all offered, as well as the International Baccalaureate. While expensive, there’s less pressure on kids to learn Italian and so socialising is a lot easier.

+PRO: Fun for children

Kids will love growing up in Milan, whether it’s exploring its cobbled streets, discovering educational museums and having fun at its planetarium. They’ll no doubt get caught up in the Milan versus Internazionale rivalry so parents might want to invest in some football boots. There are also numerous parks dotted around the city, perfect for picnics.


Getting Around in Milan

+PRO: Efficient public transport

Public transport in Milan is well developed with good infrastructure, with a variety of options available to expats. The efficient metro system has four lines and 100 stations and is generally cheaper than the less-crowded overground trains. Quaint trams are found mainly in the small city centre, while buses are useful for travelling at night, although with limited routes.

-CON: Terrible for drivers

Driving in Milan can be a nightmare for expats, on top of it being completely unnecessary. Local drivers and taxis can be quite aggressive and parking is both expensive and difficult to find. Taxis take a heavy toll on the wallet so people are increasingly turning to rideshare apps such as Uber and MyTaxi.

+PRO: City is walkable

Milan is extremely pedestrian and cycling-friendly, with those lucky enough to be staying near the city centre able to simply stroll to their destinations safely and in good time. Bicycle-sharing schemes are popular, with widespread rental depots.


Weather in Milan

-CON: Not a Mediterranean dream

While it’s by no means uncomfortable, Milan isn’t exactly a dreamy Mediterranean getaway. Its summers can be extremely hot and humid and winters tend to go below freezing, with deep fog shrouding the roads, and snowfall common.


Accommodation in Milan

-CON: High property prices

Milan has the highest rental prices in Italy. As with most big European cities, the closer you get to the heart of the city centre the more toll it takes on your wallet. And often the apartments are small, with landlords sometimes requiring up to three months' worth of rent as a deposit.

+PRO: Variety if you choose to look

Moving out a few zones may be a more palatable option for expat families on a tight budget. Property is far more affordable in suburbs such as Porto Venezia and Monza, and there’s more variety to choose from, including plush villas, regular houses and safe complexes with good transport connections to the city centre.

Accommodation in ​Milan

Securing accommodation in Milan is a priority for new expats, most of whom arrive with a job already lined up. 

Property in Milan is expensive across the board, but prices are particularly high in the city centre. Apartments are also generally small, so expats looking for more space and family-friendly homes opt to live in the suburbs and commute to the city for work.

While foreigners can buy property in Italy, most expats prefer to rent, at least initially. 


Types of accommodation in Milan  

There are several living options in Milan. In the city centre, accommodation mostly comes in the form of apartments. Further away from the urban heart, expats will find large suburban family homes, as well as comfortable condos and villas. Expats can see a wider range of accommodation options compared to other Italian cities, although rent is expensive, adding to the already high cost of living in Milan.


Finding accommodation in Milan

The best place to start a property search is online. Even before moving to Milan, expats should browse web listings to get a feel for what's available. However, they should never commit to a lease or put down any form of deposit before viewing a property in person. 

Once in Italy, expats can work through a local estate agent or browse the affitto (rental) sections in newspaper classifieds.


Renting accommodation in Milan  

Furnished vs unfurnished properties

Properties advertised as empty (vuoti) come without furniture, light fittings or even a fitted kitchen. While it’s fairly easy to find furniture, it doesn’t come cheap in this designer city, so unfurnished rentals might not be the best option for expats who are spending only a short time in Milan. 

Most expats choose completely furnished (arredati) properties or semi-furnished (parzialmente arredati) options that have light fittings, fitted kitchens and sometimes built-in cupboards. 

Leases

Once a prospective tenant has something in mind, the rental process is fairly simple. The landlord will write up the contract, which, once signed, is registered at the ufficio del registro (registry office). Make sure the contract is read carefully. Expats who can't speak Italian should ask someone they trust to translate it.

The main types of leases in Italy are for at least three of four years which can then be renewed. Although short-term leases are also available, rates are normally higher.

Deposit and utilities

Most landlords require up to three months’ worth of rent as a deposit and tenants are usually responsible for paying their utilities.

Areas and suburbs in ​Milan

The best places to live in Milan

Deciding where to live will play a significant role in the success of an expat’s experience in Milan. The city is divided into nine administrative zones or boroughs that branch out from the historic centre of the city.

The neighbourhood an expat chooses will depend on a number of factors, including a budget, proximity to one’s workplace, availability of public transport connections, family situation and, of course, personal preferences.

These are some of the most popular areas for expats in Milan.


milan

Centro Storico

Expats with a generous budget will have their pick of luxury homes in the fashionable centre of Milan. The benefits of living in Centro Storico, located in Zone 1, include access to a wealth of entertainment options and the opportunity for immersion in Milan’s rich history and culture. The downsides are that rental prices here are among the highest in the city, the apartments are small and the streets fill up with tourists.

Brera

Brera is a wealthy area in Zone 1 with an artsy and bohemian atmosphere. The area is popular among single professionals and young couples with high disposable incomes. Residents have easy access to a large number of facilities including grocery stores, boutiques, restaurants and bars, but rent is expensive. 

Cittá Studi

This part of Zone 3 attracts younger expats and is home to a number of university campuses. It’s a vibrant neighbourhood with affordable but attractive accommodation and a wide range of entertainment options. The students can get a bit rowdy, though, so families might prefer to give this area a miss.

Porta Venezia

Those looking for a family-friendly neighbourhood popular with expats should try Porta Venezia in Zone 3. The area is incredibly diverse and expats will find Milanese pensioners living alongside students and small families. Residents have public transport and cheap shopping opportunities at their fingertips, but the area can get busy.

Fiera

In the northwest of Milan, in Zone 8, lies the fast-paced Fiera, which is best known for its trade fair and convention centre. This largely commercial area has classic palazzi apartment blocks on tree-lined streets. It’s a good area that isn’t too far from the city, but its limited entertainment opportunities is a downside for some.

Isola

Also north of the city centre, situated in Zone 9, Isola is popular with people working in the Porta Nuova business district, young families and bohemian creative types. It has a strong sense of community with local events and festivals that are great opportunities to meet people. It provides ready access to public transport, good hospitals and entertainment options. Unfortunately, traffic in the area can be very congested.

Navigli District

To the southwest of the city, the Navigli District is famous for its historic canals and low-rise apartments. Rental costs in the area are relatively low and residents will enjoy the neighbourhood shops and markets. While public transport isn’t out of reach, Navigli is not the most easily accessible area. Still, Navigli District is an area that caters for a range of interests.

milan

San Donato Milanese

San Donato Milanese is an important business centre to the southeast of Centro Storico. It balances its historical character with modern facilities and green spaces. Apartments are the most common form of accommodation here, and residents use the local railway and subway stations to get around. The area has good schools and healthcare facilities, but leisure activities can be limited.

Monza

Monza is a small city just outside Milan that is popular among expat families. It is well known for its Grand Prix motor racing circuit. Residents here save a substantial amount on rent, transport links are good and its large, open spaces will appeal to those with children. However, commuting to work can take up a lot of time.

Healthcare in Milan

As is the case in the rest of Italy, both public and private healthcare options are easily available and of good quality. There are also several 24-hour pharmacies in and around the city centre.

Italian citizens and residents can apply for an Italian health card. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare in Spain during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit. 

Although some expats may prefer private options for efficiency or to avoid any language barriers, professionals in both public and private centres are likely to speak English. For private healthcare, it is advised that expats organise health insurance beforehand to cover these costs.

Below is a list of hospitals in Milan.


Hospitals in Milan

Casa di Cura San Giovanni

Website: www.casadicurasgiovanni.it
Address: Via Matteo Civitali, 71, 20148 Milan

Humanitas San Pio X

Website: www.sanpiox.net
Address: Via Francesco Nava, 31, 20159 Milan

International Medical Center

Website: www.imcmedical.it
Address: Viale Piave, 6, 20129 Milan

San Giuseppe Hospital

Website: www.multimedica.it
Address: Via San Vittore, 12, 20123 Milan

San Raffaele Hospital

Website: www.hsr.it
Address: Via Olgettina, 60, 20132 Milan

Education and Schools in ​Milan

The Italian education system is largely dominated by state schools, and Milan is no exception. Expats who don’t intend to stay for the long term usually opt for private international schools, but these are expensive and competition for places is high.

The school year runs from around mid-September to the following June. There is a two-week winter break towards the end of December, with shorter breaks in February and April. The summer break at the end of the academic year lasts about 12 weeks.


Public schools in Milan

Public schools in Italy are excellent and are free for Italian residents, although the language of instruction is in Italian, so enrolling their children in public schools isn't an option for many expats.  

According to national law, Italian schools have to provide Catholic religious education, but children are allowed to attend non-religious alternativa classes, which cover subjects such as human rights and mythology.

In line with the national curriculum, schools in Milan are divided into four levels. Scuola dell’infanzia is equivalent to kindergarten and is for children from three to five years old. Primary school (scuola primaria) is compulsory and caters to children between six and 11 years old. Secondary school is split between scuola media (11 to 14) and scuola superiore (14 to 19). School is compulsory for teens up to 16 years old. 

What is important to note is that at 14 years old students must decide what subjects they wish to specialise in and go to a specific institution dedicated to it. This is an important decision to make and can have implications for future tertiary education and career paths.


Private schools in Milan

There is often not much difference between public and private schools throughout Italy as both receive state funding. This funding means that private schools have to adhere to certain curriculum and educational standards set by the government. However, unlike public schools, private schools tend to operate under a specific religious or pedagogic philosophy, like Catholicism or the Montessori method.


International schools in Milan

Milan has various international schools that teach a range of programmes, including the International Baccalaureate as well as American, British, French and German curricula. These schools can be expensive but are a good way to get around language differences. Many Italians who can afford it send their kids to international schools as this could expose them to broader future career and educational opportunities.


Nurseries in Milan

There are nurseries and daycare centres that focus on early childhood development in Milan and these can support children of expats and locals. There are various options, including bilingual nurseries. This is a great option as children can easily pick up another language at a young age and can help better integrate families planning on staying in Italy for a long period. Expat parents can also meet other families at these nurseries to make connections and meet people going through similar experiences to them.


Special needs in Milan

Italy has a progressive take on special needs and the rights for citizens in that education must be inclusive. Students with disabilities are entitled to receive a comprehensive range of services to ensure they still get their full education. In Milan, being a big city, expats are likely to find services to support children with disabilities. Support for students with special needs can be received across all types of institutions, public, international and private, including Montessori schools.


Tutors in Milan

Expat parents in Milan who are looking for their children to get extra one-on-one help with their schoolwork can find tutors with ease. There are many platforms, including TutorYou, Apprentus and Preply, that parents can search through to find a tutor for a specific subject or a range of them, for example in the sciences, maths or languages. Parents can also look for a tutor by contacting their school directly as older students may be offering tuition.

International Schools in ​Milan

Milan has various international schools that teach a range of programmes, including the International Baccalaureate as well as American, British, French and German curricula. Fees can be pricey but are a good way to get around language differences. For expats moving with older children, international schools provide an opportunity to continue with a similar curriculum avoiding any setbacks from having to change to an unfamiliar one.

Here is a list of the most prominent international schools in Milan.


International schools in Milan

American School of Milan

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American and International Baccalaureate 
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.asmilan.org 

Andersen International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum and Italian
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.andersenschool.it

The British School of Milan 

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.britishschoolmilan.com

Deutsche Schule Mailand

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German and Italian
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.dsmailand.it

International School of Milan

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.internationalschoolofeurope.it

Lycée Stendhal de Milan

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.lsmi.it

Lifestyle in ​Milan

Milan is a dynamic and progressive city. While not as much of a tourist attraction as Rome or Florence, Milan is home to expats from across the globe, thanks to its bustling commercial centres.

With its multicultural and fashion-conscious character, residents live a stylish and attractive lifestyle in Milan.

The Milanese take appearances very seriously, spending a small fortune on snazzy designer clothes and drinks in trendy cafés. This luxurious way of life comes at a price, though, as Milan is among the world’s most expensive cities and has the highest cost of living in Italy.


Shopping in Milan

Shoppers will revel in the sheer variety of stores in Milan. In particular, expats should diarise the end-of-season sales, when the city becomes a bargain hunter's dream for a few weeks each January and July.

Expats can stroll along the boutique-lined streets of the famed Quadrilatero della moda fashion district, popping into high-end designer shops like Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton and Versace – or just admire the gorgeous window displays.

For those on a budget, the Navigli District boasts a selection of high-end boutiques, antique shops and restaurants at more affordable prices. For big-name labels at a good price, also try the outlet stores around the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and look out for shops selling end-of-season returns, catwalk cast-offs and second-hand outfits.

A shopping spree can be combined with a historical excursion at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a glass-roofed arcade near the Duomo that opened in 1877. It’s one of the world’s oldest shopping malls and home to Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores as well as Prada’s flagship store.

There are numerous stores for everyday shopping in the city, including independent stores and popular supermarket chains (supermercato), such as Carrefour and Conad. 


Eating out in Milan

Milan’s vibrant restaurant scene will have the taste buds watering, and there is plenty of variety to suit any foodie’s appetite.

Milan’s historic centre boasts most of its fine-dining options, including many excellent Italian restaurants that offer local specialities like risotto Milanese (saffron risotto). Other foodie areas include Brera and the Navigli District. 

Milan is also famous for its heritage coffeehouses, some of which have been operating since the early 19th century. Famous coffee spots can be found throughout the city. 


Nightlife in Milan

Of course, along with the trendy restaurants and high-end fashion expats will find an animated nightlife. Milan is overall a safe city and expats can enjoy a night out on the town in this vibey, cosmopolitan city. There is something for everyone - ranging from a relaxed, social atmosphere in Colonne di San Lorenzo to the glitz and glamour of clubs in Corso Como.


Entertainment in Milan

Milan is a cosmopolitan city full of youth who never run out of things to do for entertainment. Still, there is something for everyone in the city. La Scala, for example, is a world-famous opera house where expats can go to watch many theatre performances while the Teatro Litta is an old, Baroque-style performing arts theatre offering many shows to entertain locals and foreigners alike.


Sports and outdoor activities in Milan

Even though it isn’t known for an abundance of green spaces and parks, expats can nevertheless enjoy outdoor activities in Milan. 

Apart from swimming pools, walking trails through parks, and picnic spots within the city limits, there are some thrilling mountain biking routes and a few good golf courses just outside of town. The Le Rovedine Golf Club, for example, has excellent facilities, good restaurants and a gorgeous view.

As with many European cities, Milan is football crazy. AC Milan and Inter Milan are its biggest and most popular clubs, both of which play at San Siro stadium. Their rivalry is among football’s most famous and a must-see match between the two, known locally as the Derby della Madonnina, takes place at least twice a year.

Milan is also ideally located for expats to take advantage of northern Italy’s beaches and fantastic skiing on the Alps. The Courmayeur ski resort is a popular weekend getaway for well-heeled Italians. It’s just two hours from Milan by car, while the Swiss resort of St Moritz is a three-hour drive away.

Kids and Family in ​Milan

Although Milan is a major fashion and business capital with bustling city life, parents with children of varying ages will have no problem finding things to do outside of school. Many child-friendly activities in the city can be equally entertaining for parents too.

Milan has many drawcards, including Leonardo da Vinci’s famous The Last Supper painting in the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent and the Duomo di Milano, a 600-year-old Gothic cathedral. Beyond these two must-visit attractions, families are well catered for in Milan with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to keep youngsters entertained. From scenic parks to historic landmarks and educational museums, here are just a few of the highlights.


Entertainment for kids in Milan

The gardens and waterfalls of Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli offer an array of natural pleasures, and the garden’s Natural History Museum has colourful exhibits that showcase animals from all over the world – it’s especially fun for little ones and older kids who love dinosaurs. 

In Milan's historic centre, expats will find Sempione Park. It is one of the city’s biggest green spaces, and people of all ages walk along its paths, picnic under its shady trees and visit its numerous monuments. 

On the edge of Sempione Park, the Civic Aquarium of Milan is housed in a beautiful building that dates back to 1905. The aquarium holds more than 100 species of marine and freshwater fish. It’s quite compact but provides an interesting indoor destination to keep kids entertained for an hour or two. Also aiming to provide an educational experience is the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology. Housed in a 16th-century monastery, the museum aims to teach children about science through a variety of interactive exhibits.

Nicknamed ‘the Milan Sea’, Idroscalo is a water park and sports venue that's almost always bustlin with activity. The artificial lake was built in 1930 as a landing area for seaplanes, but today it hosts various water activities, such as canoeing, skiing and swimming. Close by is Europark Idroscalo, an amusement park that promises fun for the whole family.

Otherwise, Il Nano Gigante is a large indoor play centre with jumping castles, climbing frames and other activities for very young children. It also functions as a day-care centre and function venue for kids’ parties. 


Parent networks in Milan

Moms and Tots Milano is an English-speaking playgroup that meets in the centre of Milan. Weekly meetings are great for mothers who want to socialise with other English speakers while their children play together. 

See and Do in Milan

As the world’s capital of fashion and design, there is plenty to see and do in Milan, ranging from taking in the architecture of the centuries-old buildings in the city centre to shopping up a storm amidst the branded upmarket clothes and jewellery on sale in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Expats will never be low on options to keep themselves occupied, whether it's going out for a coffee or a night out on the town, having a family-friendly outing or a watching an opera performance.

One of the best ways to get acquainted with the areas of Milan and the lifestyle in the metropolis is to do some sightseeing.


Recommended sightseeing in Milan

Duomo di Milano

A stay in Milan of any duration would be incomplete without seeing the Duomo di Milano. Milan’s cathedral is quite a spectacular sight. Those who pass by frequently still marvel in its architectural aesthetic as well as its religious value as the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, dedicated to the Nativity of St Mary. Its Gothic beauty is the result of almost 600 years of construction and today it is Italy’s largest and Europe’s second-largest church. 

Piazza del Duomo

Of course, if expats visit the Duomo di Milano they will find themselves in the Piazza del Duomo, the main square of Milan. Right in Milan’s centre, the square is a focal point for the city’s art, culture and social scene surrounded significant buildings, the Royal Palace, and commercial activities. This piazza is one of the main tourist attractions of the city.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Moving along from the piazza, expats will find the country’s oldest shopping mall, designed in 1861 by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni. From the mosaic floors to the large glass dome overhead and the paintings at its base, there is much to learn from its architectural and artistic offerings. The mall houses upmarket stores of Gucci, Prada and Versace as well as bars and restaurants, which are sure to come with a hefty bill thanks to tourist pricing.

Teatro alla Scala

The other side of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II leads out to La Scala, one of the leading opera houses and ballet theatres not only in Italy but in the world. As such, expats interested in operatic arts and ballet can watch world-renowned talents and artists perform right in the heart of Milan. Here, expats will also find an art museum, a theatrical library and an associate school of La Scala.

Sempione Park

Established in 1888, this large park offers some lush green relief to the built-up urban space of Milan. There is much to see in the park alongside the flora. The park is home to Sforzesco Castle, the Triennale Milano museum, a sports ground and an aquarium, making it the perfect kid-friendly and family-friendly environment.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Italy is known for its churches and its art history. Not far from Sempione Park, expats can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church and convent and set their eyes upon the famed mural of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

What's On in Milan

There are many exciting annual festivals and celebrations in Milan, and these recurring events contribute to popular traditions and modern celebrations in the city. This diverse selection of events have links to religious ceremonies, the seasons as well as modern culture and lifestyle in Milan.

Below are some of the main events and festivals in Milan.


Annual events in Milan

Milan Fashion Week (February/March and September/October)

This biannual event turns the metropolis of Milan into a catwalk. Both the autumn-to-winter fashion shows and the spring-to-summer ones host some of the best designers and upcoming names in the fashion and modelling world. Fashion week allows Milan to exhibit itself as a global capital in the fashion industry.

Carnevale Ambrosiano (February)

This carnival is a tribute to the city’s patron Saint Ambrose. According to legend, Carnevale happens a few days after Shrove Tuesday (martedì grasso) and has its origins in a wait for the arrival of a saint who was away on a religious pilgrimage at the time. Expats can join in the colourful festivities, listen to the music, watch clowns, jugglers and street parades, and of course snack on local pastries and foods. Carnevale, which takes a different theme each year, is fun for the whole family.

Fiori e Sapori (Mid-April)

Expats headed to Fiori e Sapori (Flowers and Flavours) should prepare their sense of sight and smell for the colours and aromas of springtime. This event boasts bright, colourful arrangements of flowers which can be seen alongside the canal. Expats can take a walk to enjoy the fair and indulge in the flavours by having a pleasant lunch in the warm sun.

Milano Film Festival (September/October)

An annual event since 1996, Milan’s film festival allows a celebration of upcoming filmmakers and artists to screen their productions and tell their stories. Popular amongst film fanatics, critics and everyone in between, anyone can enjoy this cultural event.

Artigiano in Fiera (December)

This Christmas-time fair is dedicated to arts and crafts, allowing international innovative and folkloric arts to be showcased and sold. Expats are sure to find the perfect Christmas gift at this impressive market.

Getting Around in ​Milan

Milan has a highly developed transport infrastructure with an integrated ticketing system for public transport. Tickets are relatively cheap compared to the rest of Europe and it’s possible to get discount rates for bulk purchases. Options include the metro, trains, buses and trams, while taxis, walking and cycling are also feasible.


Public transport in Milan

Ticketing systems

Milanese public transport has an integrated ticketing system, meaning that tickets are universal and can be used on the metro, train, tram or bus regardless of where they were purchased.

Tickets can't be bought on board, so expats should purchase tickets before embarking on a journey at stations or from newsstands, boutiques, convenience stores and various other places around the city.

Metro

The metro in Milan is quick and efficient and at 59 miles (96km), it's the longest metro network in Italy. It serves over 100 stations throughout the city. It is a great way to get around the city and at a low cost. While it is safe, it is advised that expats should travel in groups and take necessary precautions at nighttime.

Trains

The suburban train is not as popular as the metro but isn't necessarily slower and has the added benefit of being less crowded than the metro. A route called the Passante railway connects Milan to the rest of the Lombardy region. 

Trams

Milan's tram network mainly operates within the city centre with main-route trams arriving at various intervals during peak (every three to nine minutes) and off-peak hours (every five to 11 minutes).

Buses

Bus service is limited to a few routes and the city has no plans to significantly expand its bus network. However, the night bus service is a useful option for travelling after hours. Expats should take necessary precautions when travelling at night. Although Milan is fairly safe, taking the bus alone at night is not recommended.


Taxis in Milan

Taxis are available throughout the city and are often the most convenient way to get around. They can be expensive, but have fixed rates and are metered. Most expats will find taxis best for travelling short distances or when returning home late at night.

Otherwise, rideshare applications such as Uber and MyTaxi operate in Milan, which allow expats to order lift services through their smartphones. 


Driving in Milan

Besides the fact that it isn't necessary to drive in Milan, it's also a harrowing experience and is not recommended. Local driving culture can be aggressive, the city’s old roads are often congested and parking is expensive and hard to come by. However, if expats wish to drive they must be aware of the rules of the road and the congestion charge for driving in the city centre.


Cycling in Milan

Milan is a very cycle-friendly city, and many locals get around solely on two wheels. There is a popular bicycle-sharing scheme with rental stations dotted throughout the city centre as well as tourist areas. Expats should note, however, that there aren’t many dedicated lanes for cyclists, so they should exercise caution on public roads.


Walking in Milan

Parts of the city lend themselves well to travel by foot, while others make this an impractical scenario. It is generally safe to walk around, although, as in any other big city, expats should be on the lookout to avoid becoming victims of opportunistic crime.