Fashion, finance, and midnight fun. These are just a few features to enjoy in Milan, the economic capital of northern Italy. In addition to being Italy's commercial center, Milan is also the country's transport hub. Numerous airlines fly in and out of the city's three airports, and the train station is one of the largest and busiest of Europe. Whether Milan is the main destination of your business trip or your launchpad for an Italian or Alpine adventure (Europe's bold mountain range starts just north of the city), there's a good chance you'll find yourself with a day or two in town.
If that's the case, fear not - Milano, as the Italians call it, is home to some of Italy's most treasured architectural, artistic, and historic gems. In the center of town you'll be awed by the city's 14th-century Duomo, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Just next to it is Corso Vitale, the longest covered shopping street in the world. Should you wander farther from the center of town, don't be surprised to stumble upon ancient Roman ruins, bold defensive bastions, Leonardo Da Vinci frescoes, and eighteenth-century arc de triomphs. Come nightfall check out the restaurants and nightclubs where the suave Milanese love to see and be seen. The city hosts loads of excitement and adventure just waiting to be discovered by the active traveler.
Milan also has a couple of great runs that are easily accessed from the city center. Just behind Castello Sforzesco, Parco Sempione feature plenty of walking and jogging paths. They will take you all the way over to the Arco della Pace, built in commemoration of Napoleon. Northeast of Piazza del Duomo, the Giardino Pubclici is a quiet expanse that is also a great place to get in a workout. While neither park is notably large, it is possible to connect the two routes and create the ultimate city-center run. If you're looking to run farther afield, Milan's outskirts have some great green expanses. However, be prepared to spend 30-40 minutes traveling on the metro to get there. Really, unless you really need to do a really long run, Sempione and the Giardino Publici should suffice.
- Surfaces: You'll find joint-friendly trails in Parco Sempione and Giardino Publico, but in the city center you'll be running on stone. Sometimes those stones will be brick, sometimes they will be granite, sometimes they will be polished historical beauties. For example, if you're jogging through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, keep your eyes open to take in the beautiful mosaics on the floor. In particular, look for the bull mosaic in the center. The bull and the "Bulls Balls" are famous throughout northern Italy. When a traveler comes across it (them), it is considered good luck to place your heel on the spot where the animal's testicles should be and spin around. Make sure you don't twist your ankle in the process.
- People: The city center is busy with business people on an ordinary day, and during tourist season most travelers also congregate here. Expect to dodge around pedestrians and undergo some street delays when your run takes you near Piazza del Duomo, Galleria Vittoria Emanuele, and Corso Vitale.
- Well-Dressed People: Milan is one of the world's foremost fashion centers. The city's well-dressed may make you embarrassed of your simple runners' attire. Just remember you could beat them in a race up a hill any day.