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Cities around world--Milan (Italy)

Milan (Italy)

The hard-working Milanese(米兰人)run their busy metropolis with efficiency and aplomb(沉着、冷静). It is the country's economic engine room, home to Italy's stock market and business centres. This stylish city is also the world's design capital and rivals Paris as a leading fashion centre.

Milan is all about worldly pleasures. Shopping is of almost religious significance. Theatre and cinema flourish in this fashionable milieu(环境), as does a hopping club scene and a slew of tempting restaurants. Apart from a few gems, the city is not renowned for its looks; it's the lifestyle that counts.

Milan is a sprawling metropolis, but most of its attractions are concentrated in the city centre, between the duomo(大教堂)(cathedral) and the Castello Sforzesco(斯弗克斯可城堡). The duomo is best place to begin exploring the city and is within strolling distance of dozens of historic sites.

Apart from the city center, another area deserving your attention is the Brera, immediately north of the duomo, with its posh galleries and fashionable shopping streets.

Milan is said to have been founded by Celtic tribes(凯尔特部落), who settled along the Po river in the 7th century BC. In 222 BC, Roman legions marched into the territory, defeated the locals and occupied the town, which they called Mediolanum (middle of the plain). The city's key position on the trade routes linking Rome with northwestern Europe ensured its continued prosperity, and it was here in 313 AD that Constantine I(君士坦丁一世,拜占庭帝国皇帝)made his momentous edict granting Christians freedom of worship.

The city endured centuries of chaos caused by waves of barbarian invasions. It formed a commune (town council) in the 11th century, leading the city into a period of rapid growth. Perhaps because of this success, the city did not get along well with its neighbors.

From the mid-13th century, the city was governed by a succession of important families: the Torrianis, the Viscontis and the Sforzas. Under the latter dynasties, Milan enjoyed considerable wealth and power. The city came under Spanish rule in 1535 and was given to Austria in 1713 as part of the Treaty of Utrecht(乌特勒克条约). Austrian power-broker Maria Theresa left her mark on the city; the facades of La Scala and the Palazzo Real remain her favorite shade of yellow. Napoleon made Milan the capital of his Cisalpine Republic in 1797 and his Italian Republic five years later. It hosted his coronation as King of Italy in 1805.Austria regained control of the city from 1814-1859. It wasn't long before troops under Victor Emmanuel II and Napoleon III wiped up the Austrian forces at the Battle of Magenta. Milan was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

During WWII central Milan was heavily bombed, and the opera house in particular was blown to smithereens(碎屑). Fittingly, Mussolini's career also ended in Milan - his corpse was hung upside down from the roof of a petrol station on Piazzale Loreto after he was shot trying to flee the country.

The post-war industrial boom - led by car manufacturing - and greater access to northern Europe via the new Alpine tunnels led to a spurt of growth accompanied by industrial unrest. The Red Brigades terrorised Milan and other centres of industry throughout the 1970s. In the 1990s, local political elites were torn apart by kickback scandals that went to the top of the region's political, administrative and commercial elites. Extremist parties such as the nationalist Lega Nord benefitted from the resultant political vacuum.

Organised crime continues to be the perpetual scourge of Milanese civic life. In January 1999, nine people were murdered in nine consecutive days, prompting the Milanese mayor to adopt a New York-style 'zero tolerance' policy. It did little to discourage the criminals - in December 2000, a bomb was discovered on the roof of Milan's Duomo.

In 2002, a small plane crashed into the 25th floor of the city's 30-storey Pirelli skyscraper building, killing two lawyers inside.