Thanks to the opening next May of the World Expo 2015, the city is undergoing modernisation. But Milan is also rich of a two millennia history. As the industrial and economic capital of Italy, Milan has about one million three hundred thousand inhabitants and is also one of the most innovative cities in the fields of fashion and design.
If you are visiting Milan for the first time, don't miss the cathedral, called the Duomo, which is the third largest church in the world. Another monument to not miss is Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle), a fortress now transformed into a vast museum.
To eat out and enjoy your evenings, nothing beats the Naviglio Grande district and its beautiful canals, surrounded by typical Italian houses, where you can find all the nightlife and enjoy a few drinks.
The Naviglo Grande district and its canals
But the second Italian city also has its share of gay friendly places. To meet with the local males, go to Porta Venezia station, where you’ll find the Indaco (Largo Bellintani 1), the Blanco (Via Morgagni 2) and the Lelephant (Via Melzo 22), three popular gay bars, very crowded on Friday and Saturday night, to the point that the passage in the adjacent street becomes difficult.
You should know that like everywhere else in Italy, if you want to enter a sauna or a cruising bar, you will need a membership card. You can buy it at the entrance.
Although part of a very conservative country, Milan is a very open-minded and cosmopolitan city, making it the most gay friendly city in the country. Milan's gay pride is held annually at the end of June, with the support of the Lombardy region. The gay and lesbian film festival Mix Milano, which celebrates Queer culture is meanwhile almost thirty years and takes place at the same time as the gay pride.
Good to know: for the World Expo, the Wonderful Expo website put up a list of gay friendly accommodation in the Milan area to facilitate your stay.
Mercure Porta Venezia is a gay friendly hotel partner of the local gay pride. Located 15 minutes walk from the city center, and near the metro and tram, it is ideally located.
If you are looking for a more upscale accomodation, look for Sina group hotels, which includes the De La Ville Hotel and The Gray. Located in the heart of downtown and close to the Duomo, thet offer spacious, tastefully decorated rooms. The Gray is more of a contemporary design hotel.
To enjoy the best italian products, nothing beats a visit to Eataly (Piazza XXV Aprile). This premium Italian food shop is a giant upscale supermarket and offers to its customers high quality products and many Italian specialties. You can find and even taste the best cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits and wines. The store also provides on-site dining at several restaurants, including the Alice who has a Michelin star.
Eataly, located in a former theatre
Another hotbed of Milanese gastronomy, Larte restaurant, located at 5 Via Manzoni. The hotel blends design concept store and upscale restaurant offers an unmatched visual and gustatory experience.
There are also many local restaurants, ready to help you discover the traditional local recipes such as osso bucco, risotto and escalope Milanese.
Fashion and Shopping
Versace, Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and Ferragamo, you will find the city's best shops on Via Monte Napoleone, in the heart of the Quadrilatero della Moda, Milan's fashion district.
You can also enjoy window shopping on Corso Vottorio Emmanuele II, in the center of the old town where there are many clothes shops. The beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is also to discover. Located just steps from the Duomo, this gallery covered by a glass roof welcomes the finest Italian luxury brands as well as some upscale restaurants and cafes.
The galley Vittorio Emmanuele II and its canapy
For the more contemplative of you, go to the 10 Corso Como. This very chic Milanese address is little known by tourists but will definitely charm you. It features a store bringing the biggest luxury brands, an art library, an exhibition gallery, a café restaurant and a small hotel with three bedrooms. All in a traditional Milanese house. The centerpiece is undoubtedly the rooftop. This small sunny haven in the middle of the city is surrounded by beautiful and typical colored houses of this part of Italy, it is freely available and offers you wonderful moments of contemplation.
The World Expo will be the big attraction for next year. The main theme is food issues. The huge exhibition site (11 square kilometers), which will host the pavilions of the participating countries, will be the premier venue for gourmets and gourmands from around the world for six months. From May to October, 20 million visitors are expected in Milan and Lombardy during this huge event.