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Organiser's Guide to Milan - Europe’s fashion capital is a business hub with world-class exhibition facilities and a dazzling cultural heritage.
Don’t rely on a Mediterranean climate – Milan’s sky is usually some shade of grey outside the summer months (and often during them, too). Think hot and humid in summer and cold and wet in winter, when snowfall is common too.
Resolutely Italian, but in restaurants and the big-brand shops English will be spoken. Don’t expect taxi drivers to speak English, but the cab HQ usually will.
Milan is served by three airports, Malpensa, Linate (short-haul and domestic) and Orio Al Serio (Bergamo). There’s a half-hourly express train from Malpensa to Cadorna station (40 minutes), or a shuttle bus dropping off at Centrale Station (50 minutes to an hour). Airport taxis are extortionate. Bergamo is furthest from the city, and favoured by budget carriers. There are frequent buses, taking upwards of an hour.
The centre of Milan is compact, and the metro efficient and cheap. There are buses and trams, but these take a bit of figuring out if you’re not familiar with the city. If there’s a big show on at
the Fiera Milano exhibition centre, taxis will be like hen’s teeth. Even if there isn’t, don’t expect to hail a taxi on the street, but go to
a stand or phone for one. Milan’s BikeMe bicycle hire scheme offers daily subscriptions, operated by a code sent to your email.
Milan is one of Europe’s premier centres for exhibitions, usually held at the new Fiera complex on the outskirts. There’s no shortage of event spaces in the centre – this is Europe’s fashion capital, so someone’s always throwing a party. Most of the usual hotel suspects are represented.
Catch a concert or opera at La Scala, preferably preceeded by food at the adjoining restaurant, overseen by legendary chef Gualtiero Marchesi. The big teambuilding activity, though, has to be a trip to the Monza F1 track, 15km out of town. It’s well set up for corporate groups, with a variety of driving days and activities on offer. The Dolomites are close by, with a wealth of options for skiing, hiking and via ferrata (ladder-paths through the mountains).
Kick things off with cocktails in the sophisticated bars around Brera, and as the night degenerates head towards the dingy drinking dens of the Navigli district (have a number for a good cab firm on you as public transport doesn’t run through the night).
Northern Italy has an active trade union movement, and they love to march. Students are militant as well. Don’t be surprised if the city gets snarled up by protests as austerity measures starts to bite. Check with the tourist office for planned actions.
Visita Milano: 0039 02 77 40 4343
This feature first appeared in the Square Meal Venues & Events Guide 2011.