By Beppe Severgnini

Milan may not take your breath away, like Venice. It’s not as elegant as Florence, as spectacular as Rome, or as picturesque as Naples. It doesn’t have Como’s gorgeous lake or Siena’s harmonious hills. But Milan is Italy, more so than any of those lovely places.

Milan is a flat, closed, circular city. It’s easy to lose your way. Italy is a maze; Milan even more so.

The architect Renzo Piano says that as a boy, he lived in Florence, but found it “too boring, because it was too perfect.” Milan, on the other hand, “was the least perfect, and therefore most interesting, city.”

I agree. Milan is far from perfect. But it has guts, to start with. Over the past hundred years, many of Italy’s pivotal changes started in Milan: socialism, Great War fever, fascism, resistance to fascism, the economic boom of the sixties, the political turmoil of the seventies, and the populist tycoon, Silvio Berlusconi. Good and bad, all in Milan.

Milan has ideas, always had. Food. Fashion. Design. Television. Advertising. Publishing. Milan is the country’s go-to city for all these sectors, plus industry, commerce, and finance—leaving only politics, public television, and cinema to Rome.

Go to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II on Piazza del Duomo and take the escalator to Niko Romito’s brand-new restaurant, Spazio. Look down into the Galleria, the mother and father of all shopping malls, alive with activity. You’ll see why Europe has always treated Milan with respect.

Naviglio Grande. Mailand, Italien, April 2014 (Photograph by Sime/EStock Photo) *** veroeffentlicht in DIE ZEIT am 10.04.2014 *** bis 10.07.2014 bitte folgenden Credit verwenden: Annette Schreyer/Die Zeit/laif ***
Naviglio Grande. Mailand, Italien, April 2014 (Photograph by Sime/EStock Photo)

Cross the square and take an elevator to the roof of the cathedral, the Duomo. Lose yourself among the pinnacles and spires, observe the city and the plain below as the golden statue of the Madonnina seems to float in the air. If (Read more...)

More information in Breaking Travel News