This piece, and several others on Milan, complement the CNNGo TV series. Starting with a tour through the city with two top fashion models and a photographer, this month’s CNNGo TV episode then ventures into the “fashion quadrangle,” arguably the most fashionable shopping district on the planet, and also takes a trip to the city’s most famed umbrella maker. More on Milan plus the full show can be found here: www.cnn.com/cnngo
(CNN) — You could be forgiven for thinking that Italy’s second city is all about fashion and finance.
But go beyond the banks and boutiques and Milan offers a world of subterranean secrets, surreal meals and — when its party scene gets too much — silence.
Above all, Milan offers an experience of Italy that sometimes feels very un-Italian.
Here are a few things to know before you go.
All roads lead away from Rome
Rome might be Italy’s eternal city, but it has an intense rivalry with Milan.
While Rome is the seat of political power, Milan has the banks, the stock exchange and, of course, Italy’s power houses of style.
Romans have been known to say the best thing about Milan is the train back to Rome.
But that doesn’t stop them having the time of their lives partying here.
Restaurants oftenclose early
Milan is a northern city — it doesn’t move to the Mediterranean beat of other parts of Italy.
Restaurants away from the boutiques and clubs can stick to rigid opening hours and may be unwilling to serve you lunch after 1.30 p.m., or dinner after 8.30 p.m.
The Milanese are known to be extremely punctual, so if you reserve a table, it’s best to get there on the dot.
Less espresso, more long coffee
If you’re bored with chain store coffee, Milan will be heaven
But don’t expect to the strong, bitter, pungent taste of Italian espresso.
Milanese tend to drink their coffee quite long, with added water.
This is no doubt to help them linger over the amazing array of pastries and cakes the city has to offer.
Panettone, Italy’s traditional Christmas desert loaf, was invented in Milan.