Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism arrivals. People mainly visit Italy for its rich culture, cuisine, history, fashion and art, its beautiful coastline and beaches, its mountains, and priceless ancient monuments. Italy also contains more World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world.
While Milan (Milano) may not be the first city a tourist thinks of when planning a trip to Italy, it has more than its share of attractions, not to mention history. For all its workaholic reputation as the money and business center of Italy, it's a city with an influential past and a rich cultural heritage. Consider that St. Augustine was baptized in a basilica that stood at what is now Piazza del Duomo; artists Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, the composer Verdi, the great tenor Enrico Caruso, and designer Giorgio Armani all lived and worked here; Toscanini conducted regularly at La Scala; Napoleon was crowned (actually, he crowned himself) inside the Duomo; Mussolini founded the Fascist party here; and the entire fashion world looks to Milan's catwalks twice a year for the season's fashions. All this history, not to mention the considerable wealth generated by its favored commercial position, has left Milan with an abundance of art, cultural, and architectural treasures for you to enjoy.
The large Piazza del Duomo in front of the cathedral is Metro hub, and you'll find plenty of things to do near the Duomo. In tiny Piazza dei Mercanti, you will feel as though you've stepped back into the Middle Ages as you stand beneath the stone market arcade in front of the 13th-century Palazzo della Ragione. Jump forward several centuries to enter the elegantly domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, facing the Duomo. Walk through it to emerge in front of the world's most famous opera house. It's all within a five-minute walk.