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Milan is the capital of Lombardy in the north of Italy. It is not only the financial centre but also the seat of numerous fashion labels and the leading centre of fashion and design which can be named in the same breath as Paris and New York. With around 9 Mio. people per year, Milan is, after Rome the most visited city in Italy. Most of the guests come for business reason but Milan has much more to offer. Extremes characterise the city, what can be discovered in the magnificent buildings of Roman churches which are determined by an architecture of purpose in a hectic but creative trading city. The Scala, the Piccolo Teatro and the galleries Brera and Ambrosiana are the figureheads for Milan if it comes to fine arts. But also phenomenons of mass culture have their home over here for example advertising and football. Milan’s seven universities including numerous faculties made the city to a capital of technology and research. Besides, Milan is packed with music cafes and clubs where the air burns all throughout the year. But although a lot of fun and excitement surrounds the city, it is an expensive place to be. Furthermore it is not an easy place to be. It is loud until late in the night, fast, efficient and challenging. Still today Milan is the industrial centre of Italy, although these times are already long past. But the dynamic still exists. Many companies and service providers have their seat in Milan and shape its character as a leading economical and financial centre. About 1.3 Mio. people live in Milan and the surrounding area and approximately 800.000 people commute every day.
The climate in Milan is quite humid. Fog and smog are a daily issue in the city. The summer can be very hot and winters relatively cold. There is also a chance of heavy snow fall. Besides Milan is characterised by a high air pollution.
The language spoken in Milan is Italian. As in most regions in Italy Milan has its own dialect, Milanese, which is classified as a Septentrional dialect. It can be seen as a variety of Western Lombard which is also spoken in the province around Milan.
The currency used in Italy is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, € 0.50, € 0.20, € 0.10, € 0.05, € 0.02 and € € 0.01. Most of the established credit cards can be used to cash money at ATMs or to pay in hotels, shops and restaurants.
It is common practice to tip both waiters in restaurants and taxi drivers between 5-10% of the bill. In restaurants a service charge of around 15% is usually already added to the bill, but this additional tip is still expected. Tipping is widely practised in Italy for other services as well, so small tips to hotel staff, ushers, restroom attendants, etc. are sure to be appreciated. For hotel service, a tip of € .50 – 1.50 per day is typical, though more in very expensive hotels.
Tax is included in the price of all goods in Italy. For items purchased over € 155, tourists from outside of the EU can get the tax reimbursed. This can be done by filling in a form in the shop and then presenting it to the customs officials at major airports or border crossings.
For Italy the country code is +39. The area code 02 for Milan belongs to the phone number and has to be dialled as well. There are public phones which can be used with a telephone card for local and international calls. Telephone cards can be purchased in tobacchi (tobacco stores), post offices, kiosks and some bars. Telephones that can be used are very rare in Italy; they are sometimes in bars, hotels, metro stations or Termini station.
Milan is equipped with many internet cafes like most of the cities nowadays. You can connect your laptop or if you don’t have one easily use an internet café. Most of the cafes differ in prices and quality so it might be good to check beforehand. Some internet cafes are:
AWBA communications: via valpetrosa, 5; Metaverse: Via Plinio, 48; Hard Disk Cafe: Corso Sempione, 44; punto futuro italia: via santa valeria 4.
Banks are usually open on weekdays between 8.30 am and 1.30 pm and in the afternoon between 2.30 and 4.30 pm. Shops can have individual opening times but in general they are open from Tuesdays to Saturdays 9/ 10 to 12.30 am and from 3 to 7.30 pm. Department stores and shops in the centre might be open continuously and even on Sundays. Some other small shops are only open in the afternoon. Museums are normally open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm; smaller venues are closed in the afternoon. Restaurants serve lunch between 12.30 am and 2.30 pm and dinner from 7.30 pm t0 10 pm. Some of the restaurants are closed on Sunday.
The following holidays in Italy are days when most businesses are closed and transportation may be more limited.
1st January, New Years Day
6th January, Epiphany
Good Friday/Easter Sunday and Monday, late March or early April
25th April, Liberation Day
1st May, Labour Day
15th August, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st November, All Souls Day
8th December, Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
25th December, Christmas
The safety rate in Milan doesn’t differ from the one in any other big European city. Of course usual precautions apply. Watch out for pickpockets on busses, trains, shopping centres or the touristy areas.
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