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What to know about Milan before you get there, Italy

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vcppow's pictureby vcppow review
added on 14th of August, 2008

The history of Milan is as interesting and complicated as that of any importantcity. Milan began as an ancient Celtic settlement around 600BC and was added to the Roman Empire in 222BC. By the 4th century, Mediolanum, its Roman name, was the second largest city in Europe and capital of the Western Empire. The city was plundered by Attila the Hun in 452 and nearly totally destroyed in 541 during the Greco-Gothic war.

The Lombards took over what remained of Milan in 569, made it their capital and set Milan on the road to recovery.By the 11th century, Milan regained its prominence and prosperity, while embattled with the Papal Church and various emperors. By the end of the century, Milan led several Italian cities in becoming independent from the Holy Roman Empire and continued to enjoy prosperity thought the Middle ages.Milan’s premier family during this time, the Viscontis, annexed several other cities including Brescia, and Parma. The brothers Galeazzo and Bernabò Visconti combined efforts to conquer Pavia which was then given to Galeazzo and later his son Gian Galeazzo Visconti. Bernabo ruled Milan with an iron fist and tried to take his brother’s land and add it to his rule.

Gian Galeazzo put him in prison and became the ruler of the joint territory. He annexed most of Northern Italy, all city states except Florence and Venice. Upon his death, the empire was divided between Giovanni Maria Visconti and Filippo Maria Visconti; Giovanni was named duke, which led to his assassination and, since Filippo had no male heirs, the Visconti line ended with his death in 1447.Milan was blessed with prosperity and luck, being one of the few cities of Europe that was spared from Plague of 1349.

The families of the Visconti and Sforza ruled the city and sponsored the artists Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante. Filippo Visconti's daughter married Francesco Sforza, a sheriff of sorts. His role was to guard the city state but instead he assumed power and began the Sforza line. He was succeeded by Galeazzo Maria Sforza, a cruel man who was assassinated in 1476. leaving his 7-year-old son to rule Milan with the help of Ludovico Sforza. Know popularly as Ludovico the Moor, he was a man with cultivated tastes who sponsored education. Later, Gian Galeazzo married a woman from Naples and they tried to lessen Ludovico’s power. He, in turned, allied himself with Charles VIII of France, who later took control of Milan, only to be conquered by CharlesV of Spain.

Milan remained under this rule until the 18th century when Austria assumed rule. Eventually, the city states of Italy assumed independence and banded together in the late 1800’s. Throughout the changes in leadership, Milan continued to grow and prosper.Unfortunately, Milan’s prominence as an industrial city made it a prime bombing target during WWII, even after the city surrendered in 1943. Milan sustained a great deal of damage and entire neighborhoods were lost.

Milan was successfully reconstructed and has regained its status as a financial center. However 60% of Milan’s oldest buildings in the city center were destroyed, or so badly damaged during the bombing that they required demolition. The loss of so many buildings erected over the span of 1000 years is inestimable, but has resulted in Milan being a modern city with many new buildings designed by prominent 20th century architects.


Things about Milan you may be interested in


Read about Milan in our travel-guide
All you have to know about MilanThe best clubs and parties in Milan

Recommended Milan Guide

Milan History

As one of the pristine provinces of Rome, Milan played a vital role of becoming the Western Roman Capital during the great division of the Roman Empire in 286 A.D. It was during this period that Milan standed as the Western Capital, Christianity became fully accepted and incorporated in the Roman Empire through the Edict of Tolerance issued by Emperor Constantine the Great. This role of Milan continued until the sacking by the northern barbaric tribes in 539 A.D. The dark period in the history of Milan stretched until the 12th century when an independence movement called comuni sprouted in the northern provinces of Italy. This movement... Read more »


Recent reviews for Milan

All you have to know about Milan - Aug 14, 2008, by vcppow
Milan, known for devotion to fashion and design, is the principle city of Northern Italy and a major economic force in Europe. The population of Milan and the surrounding area is over 7,400,000 making it the third largest metropolitan area... Read more »

The best clubs and parties in Milan - Aug 15, 2008, by vcppow
Night life in Milan is fascinating because it is constantly changing. Of course there are tried and true institutions that never go out of fashion, but new places constantly spring up and become popular overnight, their features spread by... Read more »


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