Milan has always been located at the centre of economic and cultural exchanges, constituting a strategic node not just for the Italian economy, but also for Europe and the international community, thanks not least to its position, at the centre of the continent’s north-south and east - west flows.
“Greater Milan” System
Milan has an integrated transport system comprising a rail network of approx. 1,600 km, a road and motorway network of 40,000 km (with approx. 20% of all Italian goods circulating on it), a major European airport system, as well as an urban transport network comprising 3 metropolitan lines for a total of 69 km plus 129 bus and tram lines covering 681 km within the municipal area. All of which are flanked by the railway loop, extending for some 6 km and connecting 7 stations.
Milan is located within one of the most articulated and complex territorial settings in Europe from a social and economic-production point of view.
Milan is the leading metropolitan area in Italy: in terms of dimensions, economic importance, cultural level and political influence, “Greater Milan” is very much the centre in the Italian economy, comparable in importance with the largest developed regions in Europe.
The “Greater Milan” area is the most developed Italian territory, excelling in its traditional production and industrial sectors, and especially in the tertiary sector, particularly as regards services to companies, encouraging the development of highly specialised activities.
Milan’s economy is powered by its advanced tertiary sectors e.g. fashion, design, finance and publishing.
The city’s excellences include top fashion, with outlets representing all the most famous Italian and international names, located mainly in the so-called “fashion triangle” (Via MonteNapoleone, Via Della Spiga, Via S. Andrea, via Manzoni).
In addition to boutiques, the main stylists have opened showrooms in various areas of the city (Via Savona, Tortona, Piazza Cinque Giornate) and in the hinterland.
In the fashion sector, there are some 12,000 companies, 800 showrooms, 6,000 sales outlets, with four weeks dedicated to this activity, comprising fashion shows and complementary events. There are 17 institutes focusing on design, with 37 specialised publications and events like the Salone del Mobile and the Compasso d’Oro.
As regards economy and finance, Milan is the home of 326,000 active companies, Italian and foreign bank institutes and the Italian Stock Exchange. The city’s GDP is equivalent to no less than 10% of national GDP.
Finally, publishing and communication are represented by 700 publishers, 30% of the national supply as regards periodicals and 12% of daily newspapers, as well as Rai and Mediaset headquarters and satellite TV stations.
Other leading Milan economic sectors include advanced research (health and biotechnologies) and the chemical and mechanical industries.
The Italian biotechnologies compartment comprises 222 companies (with more than 14,000 employees, of whom almost a third are employed in R&D), generating a 4 billion euro turnover, with 1.2 billion euro invested in R&D. All of which places Italy in fourth position in Europe in terms of the number of companies, and in fifth position as regards turnover. Milan represents the main Italian biotech district, with Lombardy comprising approx. 50% of national companies, including top Research Centres (CERBA –European Centre for Advanced Biomedics Research – soon to be realised) and various leading University Departments.
Milan is also the “health capital”, with 1,897 companies operating in the Health sector (with more than 30,000 employees), centres of excellence in medical therapy and research: 3 Medical Faculties (Milan University of Studies, Milan–Bicocca University of Studies, San Raffaele Life-Health University), Polyclinic Foundation and 9 major recovery and care institutes.
The metallurgical and mechanical industry in “Greater Milan” area also has a major role to play. The 427 companies present within the territory cover almost all sector activities, with production relative to manufacturing compartments for electric machines, manufacturing of radiotelevision appliances and telecommunications and manufacturing of medical equipment, optical instruments and clocks, all of which enjoy great importance in comparison with average national and regional values.
Milan is also first in another area – the Tertiary Sector. In the city this constitutes an active and polyhedric activity, a stimulus and impulse towards innovation and intervention in various fields, based on equity, social justice, subsidiarity and sustainable development, with the aim of improving the community’s quality of life.
There are some 6,000 voluntary work and Tertiary Sector organisations in the “Greater Milan” area. Milan has also been chosen as the site for the headquarters of the national agency for ONLUS (non-profit organisations), reporting directly to the government, whose main tasks include the analysis of laws relative to the Tertiary Sector, promotion of training and study activities, and support for information campaigns aimed at providing greater visibility for the non profit world.
Banking and financial system
Milan is the site of the main Italian banking groups (198 institutes) and more than forty foreign banks, occupying fourth position in Europe in terms of capitalisation. ABI (Italian Banking Association) represents the financial and banking system, both in Italy and abroad, protecting and promoting its interests.
The city also plays host to the Italian Stock Exchange (225 listed companies). Its main activities include the organisation and management of the Italian market via national and international brokers (approx. 130), in addition to exercising supervision functions through Consob and the Bank of Italy.
Trade Fair and Congress System
Milan boasts one of the greatest “Trade Fair Systems” in Europe, comprising Fiera Milano (new complex at Rho – 345,000 sq.m. – and the municipal district – 115,000 sq.m.) and Novegro Exposition Park – 13,000 sq.m.). Every year, Fieramilanocity and Fieramilano exposition spaces host an average of 75 events, with approx. 4 million visitors a year, generating an annual income equal to approx. 4 billion euro.
Milan also boasts structures of primary importance for hosting major international congresses and important company conventions in terms of both spaces and services offered, together with operators enjoying the very highest professional standards. Over the last decade there has been a considerable increase in the provision of congress spaces, increasing from 139 units to 199 units (+43.1%).
Important structures include the “Milano Convention Centre”, constituting the largest congress centre in Italy, able to host up to 25,000 persons, the Pole Star Congress Centre, situated within the new Fiera di Milano, Spazio Villa Erba, the Congress and Training Centre within Palazzo Mezzanotte and Palazzo delle Stelline.
It is also important to note that Milan’s congress system comprises a wide range of hotels together with the Trade Associations headquarters.
The “Exhibition hall” congress centre is currently being constructed within PII Santa Giulia. This complex will occupy a surface area of approx. 32,000 sq.m., with a maximum capacity of 8,000 seats.
Universities constitute centres of attraction for the development of the city and its territory. Milan’s higher education system comprises 11 University centres (44 faculties, 174,000 new students a year, equal to 10% of the entire Italian university population), offering students and researchers the possibility of choosing from among a multiplicity of disciplines (economy and commerce, law, medicine, engineering and architecture), training offers, study and specialisation grants, practical training periods in companies etc.
The significant presence of students from all over Italy and abroad (approx. 5,000 foreign students registered a year) also contributes to the city’s dynamism.
The highest presence of foreign students can be seen at Accademia di Brera, (more than 14%), followed by the Conservatory (approx. 8%). Apart from artistic disciplines, there is also intense interest in economic studies, with 3.8% of Bocconi’s students coming from abroad, preceding S. Raffaele (3.5%), Statale (2.3%) and Milan Polytechnic.
For tourists as well as travelling businessmen, the city offers a considerable variety of hotel structures, from 7 star luxury hotels to agritourism facilities.
The majority of the world’s most prestigious hotel chains are present in the city, with a total of 371 hotels offering a total of more than 43,000 beds, in addition to more than 48 residences providing approx. 5,000 beds.
Culture and leisure time
Milan offers a rich cultural programme under the aegis of openness and a multiplicity of options. Civic museums are no exception, including: Sforzesco Castle, Archaeology Museum, Natural History Museum; the Brera Art Gallery, Ambrosiana Art Gallery, Poldi Pezzoli, Triennale and PAC (Contemporary art pavilion), which promotes a range of extensive and in-depth exhibition projects.
The excellencies of Milan and its province also include “museum houses”, the most famous being the house of Alessandro Manzoni together with Poldi Pezzoli, Bagatti Velsecchi and Boschi – Di Stefano.
The City Council, Province, Region and various private subjects all promote programmes and organise cultural events involving theatre, cinema, music and multimedia, as well as offering reductions (e.g. the “theatre invitation” card and “fly to the cinema” - projecting those films shown at the Venice Film Festival).
The city also provides numerous opportunities for leisure time with more than 250 structures, 5,000 square metres of expositions, 150 art galleries and 28 museums hosting two and a half million visitors a year. In addition, there are approx. forty theatres (including the Scala, Conservatorio, Arcimboldi Theatre, Giuseppe Verdi Auditorium), guaranteeing more than 10,000 shows a year.
The large summer concerts at San Siro and smaller venues (DatchForum and PalaceSharp), all host international and national concerts. In addition, the city provides musicians in various musical styles with a chance to exhibit their talents in its many clubs, some of which are reference points for national and international jazz (Scimmie, Blue Note, Cà Bianca).
And finally, for those who want to spend their free time doing sports activities, Milan boasts 137 sports complexes, approx. 200 gymnasiums and more than 200 sports associations.