Off the Beaten Path: Milan

By Ben Chinisci, ISA Italy Site Specialist

Live Among Italians

If you want to really immerse yourself in the Italian way of life, Milan is the right city for you.  Milan is an amazing opportunity to take courses in Italian with other European exchange students.  You can even sign up for an internship in the city, giving you firsthand experience in the professional working world!  Milan is definitely for the trailblazers, for the motivated, for the students who want to integrate themselves in the Italian culture.

The Working People’s City

Milan probably isn’t the first city you might think of when you think of Italy, but there are a lot of awesome things about the city to appreciate.  Believe it or not, Milan is the second largest city in Italy and the highest populated metropolitan area in the country!  It’s a perfect blend of traditional culture, modern commerce, epic regional food, and lots of different neighborhoods to explore.

Some classic Italian foods that come from Milan are: Panettone (Christmas fruit cake), risotto alla Milanese, and classic cheeses like gorgonzola and taleggio. You won’t find as many tourist mobs here, although there are some gems in Milan that beautifully represent Italian culture.  For example, you can see Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Milan is also the most passionate city in Italy for calcio (soccer), so be sure to go to a game while you’re there.

Here are 5 places that show just a few of Milan’s many sides:

  • Navigli – Two main water canals that have cool bars and restaurants going up and down. The area is a short walk from the university and starts at Porta Ticinese.
  • Porta Garibaldi – This is the modern part of Milan.  After World War II, Milan was able to rebuild and incorporate futuristic homes, skyscrapers with trees on every floor (“Bosco Verticale”, or “vertical forest”), and uniquely modern architecture. Go visit Eataly, an awesome food center where you can even take classes on making pizza, pasta, etc. Corso Como is a street that wakes up at the end of the work day, where you can get refreshing apertivos!
  • Quadrilatero – Super high-end fashion stores in the Montenapoleone district. This area is why Milan is the fashion capital of the world. Want to go shopping where locals shop? Go to Zona Buenos Aires.
  • Le Colonne – Ancient roman columns still preserved in the San Lorenzo district.  These columns are remnants of Milan from before the city was nearly entirely destroyed during World War II. Go here for a classic Italian vibe.
  • Chinatown – You would never guess that Milan would have an authentic Asian culture, but sure enough, the city’s Chinatown is an amazing fusion of Asian and Italian. Try the awesome “ravioli cinesi,” aka dumplings.


Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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