Milan (Italian: Milano) is financially the second most important city in Italy. It has the most populous city proper in the country, but sits at the centre of Italy's largest urban and metropolitan area. While incorrectly not considered as beautiful as some Italian cities, having been partly destroyed by Second World War bomb raids, the city has rebuilt itself into a thriving cosmopolitan business capital. In essence, for a tourist, what makes Milan interesting compared to other places is that the city is truly more about the lifestyle of enjoying worldly pleasures: a paradise for shopping, football, opera, and nightlife. Milan remains the marketplace for Italian fashion – fashion aficionados, supermodels and international paparazzi descend upon the city twice a year for its spring and autumn fairs. Don't get fooled by the modern aspect of the city, since it's one of the most ancient cities in Europe with more than 26 centuries of history and heritage!
If Rome represents the "old" Italy, Milan represents the "new" Italy. Milan is the most modern of all Italian cities, and it still keeps most of its past history intact. At first sight, Milan looks like a bustling and relatively stylish (with its shiny display windows and elegant shops) metropolis, with a good number of grand palaces and fine churches in the centre, but might seem like a slightly prosaic, soulless and business-orientated place. It can be quite rainy, grey and foggy, and some of the buildings, ancient or modern, have quite a severe appearance. Whilst there are a lot of parks, Milan looks as if it has very little greenery, and apart from the very well-kept historic part, some outlying areas are a bit scruffy. However, Milan, unlike most usually historical European cities which throw the sights in your face, requires quite a lot of exploring - take it as it is, and you might enjoy its fashionable glitter and business-like modernity, but might find it not very "captivating". If you spend time, though, strolling through areas such as the pretty Navigli, the chic Brera district, the lively University quarter, or some of the smaller churches and buildings, you'll find a forward thinking, diverse city filled in every corner with history, and with a plethora of hidden gems. Plus, with such an established history in theatre, music, literature, sport, art and fashion, there's really not much you can miss.