Milan

City basics

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Disabled travellers

Many hotels, restaurants, and sights in Milan are well-equipped for visitors in wheelchairs or for those requiring assistance (care-givers accompanying disabled guests receive free admission to sights and museums upon request); however, the city still contains many old buildings with narrow corridors and closet-sized restroom facilities that have somehow resisted accessibility updating. Check the symbols below our hotel reviews, sightseeing locations, and dining destinations to determine suitability. It is also important to note that not all metro stations include elevators and escalators from ground level to platform. While all the Line 3 (yellow) and Line 5 (violet) metro stops are fully accessible by elevators, the older Line 1 (red) and Line 2 (green) have limitations. Stations currently fitted with lifts are:

Line 1: Sesto Marelli, Gorla, Loreto, Porta Venezia, Palestro, San Babila, Cordusio, Cairoli, Cadorna FN, Pagano, Amendola, Fiera, Lampugnano, Bonola, Gambara, Bande Nere, Inganni.

Line 2: Cascina Gobba, Udine, Lambrate FS, Piola, Loreto, Centrale FS, Gioia, Garibaldi FS, Cadorna FN, Sant'Ambrogio, Sant'Agostino, Porta Genova FS, Romolo.

If you require assistance, ask the guard at the entry and exit ticket turnstiles. For more information, call the free phone hotline at 800 80 81 81, or check the website www.atm.it. The Radiobus service also has lifts for wheelchairs and audio messages for the blind. In stations and airports, a texturized rubber strip along the floor of corridors is designed to help guide and orientate the blind or visually impaired.

Trenitalia is slowly introducing easy-access carriages but accessibility is still spotty. Trains fitted with wheelchair lifts are indicated with a wheelchair symbol on all timetables. Call (+39) 02 67 07 09 58 to arrange help for boarding or disembarking from trains at Centrale, Cadorna and Porta Garibaldi railway stations. It is advisable to call ahead to flag the request. For night travel (22:00 - 06:00), call 12 hours ahead. For help on international trains, make the request two days in advance.

Transport to Linate (bus 73) and Malpensa (Malpensa Express) airports is wheelchair-friendly. If you prefer a taxi, be sure to book the car well in advance, specifying when you need a car large enough to fit a wheelchair (sedia a rotelle in Italian).

Electricity

Electricity in Italy is 220V, 50Hz AC. Plug sockets are round and take three round pins. If you are coming from the US, Canada, UK or Ireland you definitely need an adaptor - as well as from many other countries.

Emergency numbers

Carabinieri 112
Police (Polizia) 113
Fire Brigade (Vigili del fuoco) 115
Emergency Medical Assistance (Emergenza sanitaria) 118
Metropolitan Police (Polizia Municipale) (+39) 02 02 08

Facts & Figures

A few things you might want to know about Italy.

Area: 301,340km2
Population: 60,782,027
Capital city: Rome (pop. 2,870,528)
Other cities: Milan (pop. 1,331,715), Naples (989,846), Turin (900,372), Palermo (677,015), Genoa (594,774)
Highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco, 4,810m)
Longest river: Po (652km)
Largest lake: Garda (368km2)

Health & Pharmacies

Emergency treatment is available to all travellers through the Italian healthcare system, as the law dictates that hospital emergency rooms (pronto soccorso) must treat emergency cases for free. Before travelling to Italy, EU citizens should obtain the free-of-charge EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). This document is equivalent to Lombardy's Carta Regionale dei Servizi, which permits you to consult a national health service doctor without the bill. Drugs prescribed by this professional can be bought by pharmacists at prices set by the health ministry. Tests or specialized outpatient treatment have fixed rates. Non-EU visitors will be charged a small fee at the doctor's discretion.

Pharmacists are the Italian's go-to source for health information; not only do they give informal medical advice for common ailments, but they can also recommend local doctors and provide you with addresses and info for laboratories to have tests done. The pharmacies, marked by a green cross, also sell homeopathic medicines, and over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin are much more expensive in Italy than in the US or UK. It is useful to know the active ingredient or generic name for medications you may need, as they are likely marketed domestically under different names. Normal opening hours are 08:30 - 12:30 and 15:30 - 19:30 Monday through Saturday. Outside of regular hours, a duty rotation operates with 24-hour service, or you can check www.turnifarmacie.it. Next to the door of all pharmacies you will find a glass-enclosed list of open pharmacies nearby, and you can also call 800 80 11 85 to locate the nearest open pharmacy.

Internet & Wi-Fi

The Rete Pubblica Milanese provides free Wi-Fi connectivity for the city of Milan, available both inside and outside via two different services. Free Wi-Fi Indoor is available within public buildings and some museum spaces, while Open Wi-Fi Milano functions outside in various piazzas and streets. Users are alloted a daily data limit of 300MB for internet browsing; once you use it up, you have one hour of continued high speed navigation before it drops off until midnight, when the system resets. To access the Wi-Fi, select the openwifimilano network on your device, enter your mobile phone number to register, and your password will be sent to you.

Inside of private establishments, free high-speed Wi-Fi is an increasingly common feature, particularly in hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafés. Simply request the network name and password from the waiter or the front desk. Cybercafés are less and less common on the ground, and likely to be pricey.

Language

The official language of Italy is Italian, a Romance language nuanced by its melodic cadence. Speakers of Spanish and French will have a relatively easy time of understanding due to the frequency of cognates and similar grammatical structures. While the Milanese dialect was once commonplace in the region, now you will only hear it spoken by the oldest generation, with possible Milan-specific slang uttered by young people.

English is a mandatory part of school curriculum from elementary school up through high school, and many universities are now also requiring student applicants to demonstrate a minimum level of English. However, theoretical studies are a far cry from practical usage, and while most young Italians do have some English under their belts, they are often hesitant to use it. Do not count on middle-aged or older Italians being conversational in the language. The police station usually has an officer or two on hand who can get by with tourists and foreigners, but ironically, it is nearly guaranteed that no one at the immigration office will speak English.

Local time

From March 29th to October 25th, Italy is in the Central European Summer Time Zone, or GMT+2. The rest of the year the clock ticks according to the Central European Time Zone, or GMT+1.

Mobile phones

Thanks to the ongoing regulatory efforts at the EU-level, mobile phone roaming rates are capped across all EU member states including Italy, which means that you can expect to pay only €0.24 per minute for outgoing calls, €0.07 per minute for incoming calls and €0.08 per SMS sent.
Depending on your phone usage, it’s well worth considering buying a local SIM card that you simply use in your own phone. A prepaid account starts from around €20. To purchase one you need to show your ID card or passport.

Money

Italy uses the euro (€) with banknotes in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. Coins, designed according to the country in which they were minted, come in denominations of €0.01, €0.02, €0.05, €0.10, €0.20, €0.50, €1 and €2.

ATMs, or bancomat, can be found all over the city, and while they may charge a small fee, they are the best way to take out cash - a crucial accessory in a country where many establishments and services do not accept credit cards. Despite this fondness for cash, credit cards are the most common method of payment in hotels and high-end shopping locations. Public services such as public transport are relatively cheap, with a host of benefits and discounts available for students and seniors.

Commission rates vary greatly depending on the bureau de change. Out to make the most off you are exchange offices in the airports; it is advisable to wait to change money until you are in the city, and banks usually offer better exchange rates than private bureaux. Avoid places displaying 'no commission' signs; they are certain to offer bad rates. Main post offices also have exchange bureaux, but they don't accept travellers' cheques. Take a passport or valid ID with you when dealing with money.

National holidays

There are a number of public holidays in Italy. On these days city councils, post offices and banks are closed. Some shops, restaurants, museums and attractions may also close or have reduced opening hours. When in doubt, call ahead!

Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Jan 6 Epiphany
Apr 5 - 6, 2015 Easter
Apr 25 Liberation Day
May 1 Labour Day
Jun 2 Republic Day
Aug 15 Assumption
Nov 1 All Souls’ Day
Dec 7 City Patron St Ambrose’s Day
Dec 8 Immaculate Conception
Dec 25 Christmas
Dec 26 St Stephen’s Day

Post

Italy's posta prioritaria, the local equivalent of first-class post, generally works well. It promises delivery within 24 hours domestically, three days for EU countries, and a week for the rest of the world.

Stamps are sold at post offices and tobacconists (marked out front by a large T) only. Most post boxes are red with two slots, one marked per la città (for Milan), and the other marked per tutte le altre destinazioni (for all other destinations).

Many post offices have long opening hours (08:00 - 19:00), while the rest maintain the traditional 08:00 - 14:00 Monday through Friday, and 08:30 - 12:00 on Saturday and any day before a public holiday. Each post office displays a list at the door of the nearest open one when it is closed. For further postal information, phone the central information office (80 31 60) or visit www.poste.it.

Religion

Religion in Italy is characterized by the predominance of Catholicism, with some 88% of the population belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. Only around one third of these view themselves as actively religious, but the culture of Catholicism is woven into the fabric of the country. 10% of the population are equally divided between atheists and agnostics, while 5% are affiliated with different creeds.

The Archdiocese of Milan, a metropolitan see of the Roman Catholic Church, was established as early as 200AD, and maintains its own Latin liturgical Ambrosian rite. Within the city you can also find Evangelical and Methodist churches, as well as mosques, synagogues, Buddhist temples, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Safety

Milan is a fairly safe city. However, as in any cosmopolitan centre, petty crime does occur, and conspicuous tourists are more susceptible to theft and pickpocketing. Petty criminals most often work in pairs of small groups, primarily targeting public transportation and tourist areas. It is advisable for everyone to be careful, and women in particular, around Centrale railway station and parks at night, and exercise basic precautions.

Keep bags and purses tightly closed with your hands on them when using public transportation, and don't store wallets in your back pocket. If your bag or camera has a long strap, wear it across the front of your body. When walking down a street, move bags or purses to the side of your body farthest from the traffic, so you're less likely to be a target for drive-by motorcycle thieves. When dining, do not hang bags over the back of your chair; thieves may stroll through classy establishments collecting items of value. When shopping, don't set down bags to try on clothes or shoes. Even children are often perpetrators; ragged appearance and small groups may be indicators.

If you are the victim of crime, call the police helpline or go directly to the nearest police station to report a theft (furto). You will be asked to assist in compiling the written report (denuncia), which is required to make an insurance claim. If possible, bring someone who speaks Italian with you to file the report.

Smoking & Alcohol

In Italy, approximately one quarter of the population smokes. While groups of people can regularly be found gathered curb-side lighting up, smoking is not permitted in any indoor public place, including all bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. This rule is strictly enforced, and violators will incur a fine. Cigarettes can only be purchased from tabacconists (tabaccherie), which display a white T in front of the shop. Some restaurants and bars contain small tabaccherie behind the cash register. These establishments also sell stamps, cards for cellular phone credit and lottery tickets. Some also sell transport tickets, and may have external vending machines for purchases after-hours. Cigarettes cannot be sold to anyone under 16.

Beer and wine can be bought at bars from the age of 16, spirits from age 18. Bars rarely ask to see identification, but the law requires that everyone carry a valid ID at all times. It should come as no surprise that wine pervades most spheres of Italian life, with consumption rates around 38 litres per capita per year, and special circumstances are not required to pop open a bottle.

Telephone numbers

All In Your Pocket guides in its European publishing empire list country codes before all telephone numbers. The Italian country code is (+39), but of course, you only have to use this if you’re dialing from abroad. If you’re already in Italy and want to call one of the numbers in this guide, just ignore the (+39) prefix and dial the number.

Tipping

Most restaurants include a cover charge (coperto) per customer that is added automatically to the bill. This fee could range anywhere from €1.50 a head to €3 or more in high profile or central, touristy locations. Tips are not expected in most restaurants, but rounding up by €1-2 is appreciated. Taxi drivers will also be happy if you round the fare up to the nearest whole euro.

Tourist Information

You will receive a warm welcome upon arrival in Milan at MilanTourismPoint, the visitors centres offering assistance and information to ensure an optimal stay in the city. Offices are conveniently located at the airports, at Centrale railway station and in the city centre.

Here you will find tourist assistance and qualified staff that will provide you with info on how to make the most of your time in Milan; what to see, what to do, events in town and instructions on how to obtain benefits, museum discounts and offers available through MilanoCard partners.

At a MilanTourismPoint you can also purchase Expo 2015 tickets, a 1-day MilanoCard, 3-day MilanoCard, tours, personalized shopping services, bus tickets, airport bus transfers, and more. Don't forget to inquire about MilanoCard's free "Milan Welcome Walks". Led by local university students, these 45-minute English tours depart from Palazzo Reale and cross through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to Piazza della Scala, and are a great way learn about Milan's history and get yourself oriented.

Visit an office to pick up your MilanoCard and tickets for tours purchased online. Online MilanoCard customers will receive a free city map, as well as a complimentary artisanal panettone cake, which can be collected at the Panettone Vergani boutique on via Mercadante 17.

Visas

EU nationals do not require a visa to visit Italy. For citizens of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Schengen Agreement rules apply, and travellers may therefore stay up to three months without a visa. Depending on the country of origin, some foreigners may need a visa. It is best to enquire at Italian embassies or consulates for current bilateral agreements with your country before travelling. All visitors should declare their presence to the police within eight days of arrival. If you are staying in a hotel, this will be done for you. Otherwise, contact the main police station (Questura Centrale), at via Fatebenefratelli 1, tel. (+39) 02 62 261 for info.

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