Dangers & Annoyances
- Milan is a safe and affluent destination; however, as with any major city, pickpocketing can be an issue at busy train stations and Piazza del Duomo.
- If you’re the victim of theft or crime, simply find the nearest police station and report the incident.
- For insurance purposes you’ll need to fill in any relevant forms.
- For lost or stolen passports, contact your embassy.
Police Station Milan's main police station.
Civic Museum Card (€12; www.turismo.milano.it) This three-day ticket allows a single admission to each of Milan’s nine civic museums. Tickets can be purchased online or at any of the museums.
House Museums Card (adult/reduced €20/10; www.casemuseo.it) Gives discounted access to Milan's four historic houses: the Poldi Pezzoli museum, the Bagatti Valsecchi palazzo, the Villa Necchi Campiglio and the Boschi-di Stefano apartment. It's valid for six months and can be purchased at any of the houses.
Musei Lombardia Milano (adult/reduced €45/35; www.abbonamentomusei.it) For longer stays that may involve excursions outside the city, this regional tourist card offers discounted access to 100 regional museums, villas and royal residences (including the Violin Museum in Cremona, Bergamo's Accademia Carrara and the Villa Reale in Monza) and is valid for one year.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Italy's country code||39|
|Milan city code||02|
Italy is a surprisingly formal society; the following tips will help you avoid awkward moments.
- Greetings Shake hands and say buongiorno (good day) or buonasera (good evening) to strangers; kiss both cheeks and say come stai (how are you) to friends. Use lei (you) in polite company; use tu (you) with friends and children. Only use first names if invited.
- Asking for help Say mi scusi (excuse me) to attract attention; and use permesso (permission) when you want to pass someone in a crowded space. If you want to see something in a shop, ask a sales assistant to help you.
- La bella figura (Making a good impression) Appearances are important so dress smartly, and take a gift of chocolates or pastries if invited to a Milanese home.
- Religion Dress modestly (covering shoulders and thighs) and talk in a respectfully quiet tone when visiting religious sites.
A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a good idea. It may also cover you for cancellation or delays to your travel arrangements. Paying for your ticket with a credit card can often provide limited travel-accident insurance and you may be able to reclaim the payment if the operator doesn’t deliver. Ask your credit-card company what it will cover.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
Wireless internet access is widely available in Milanese hotels, cafes, shops, museums and restaurants, usually free of charge (although some of the very top end hotels still charge upwards of €10 per day for access). There's also free city-wide access at info.openwifimilano.it although it isn't always reliable.
If you don’t have your own computer, a few of the higher-end hotels will let you have use of a computer or iPad. Otherwise, there are just a handful of internet cafes charging €2 to €6 per hour. Some cafes will request ID in order to use their facilities.
ATMs are widely available and credit cards are universally accepted. To change money, you’ll need to present your passport ID.
Visa and MasterCard are among the most widely recognised, but others such as Cirrus and Maestro are also accepted. American Express and Diners Club are not universally accepted, so check in advance.
Tipping is not generally expected nor demanded in Italy as it is in some other countries. This said, a discretionary tip for good service is appreciated in some circumstances. Use the following as a guide:
- Top-end hotel Tip at least €2, for porter, maid or room service.
- Restaurant If service isn’t included on the bill, leave a 10% to 15% tip.
- Bar Most Italians just leave small change (€0.10 to €0.20 is fine).
- Taxi Not normal practice, although locals usually round up to the nearest euro.
Opening hours are longer in summer. Many shops and restaurants close for several weeks during August, or have reduced hours.
Banks 8.30am–1.30pm and 3.30–4.30pm Monday to Friday
Bars & clubs 10pm–4am; may open earlier if they have restaurants
Cafes 7.30am–8pm; most serve alcoholic drinks in the evening
Restaurants noon–2.30pm and 7.30–11pm; often later in summer; most close one day a week
Shops 9am–1pm and 3.30–7.30pm (or 4–8pm) Monday to Saturday; larger shops stay open over lunchtime, and also on Sundays
Le Poste (www.poste.it), Italy’s postal system, is reasonably reliable. Most people use posta prioritaria (priority mail), which is Italy's most efficient mail service, guaranteed to deliver letters sent to Europe within three days and to the rest of the world within four to nine days.
Francobolli (stamps) are available at post offices and authorised tobacconists, which keep regular shop hours. Look for the big white-on-black ‘T’ sign.
Banks, offices and some shops will close on public holidays. Restaurants, museums and tourist attractions tend to stay open.
New Year’s Day (Capodanno or Anno Nuovo) 1 January
Epiphany (Epifania) 6 January
Easter Monday (Pasquetta) March/April
Liberation Day (Giorno della Liberazione) 25 April
Labour Day (Festa del Lavoro) 1 May
Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica) 2 June
Feast of the Assumption (Assunzione or Ferragosto) 15 August
All Saints Day (Ognissanti) 1 November
Patron Saint Day (Festa di Sant’Ambrogio) 7 December
Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Immacolata Concezione) 8 December
Christmas Day (Natale) 25 December
Boxing Day (Festa di San Stefano) 26 December
- Smoking Forbidden in all indoor public places in Italy. However, if restaurants, bars or cafes have outdoor seating you will find yourself among smokers.
Tabaccai (tobacconist's shops; identified by a white 'T' on a black background) are the only places to buy tobacco products legally. When they close at 7pm, an external vending machine takes over.
Taxes & Refunds
A value-added tax of around 22%, known as IVA (Imposta di Valore Aggiunto), is levied on almost everything in Italy.
Claiming IVA Refunds
Non-EU residents spending more than €155 can claim a refund when they depart the EU. The refund only applies to purchases from retail outlets that display a ‘tax-free for tourists’ sign. You can claim your refund at the airport or at any office of Global Blue (www.globalblue.com) or Premier Tax Free (https://premiertaxfree.com).
The dialling code for Italy is 39 and the city code for Milan is 02. The city code is an integral part of the number and must always be dialled. Toll-free (free-phone) numbers, known as numeri verdi, start with 800.
Italy uses GSM 900/1800, which is compatible with the rest of Europe and Australia but not with North American GSM 1900 or the Japanese system.
There are no roaming charges within the European Union.
- Public toilets are accessible at the central train station, in department stores, museums and galleries.
- Some toilets require an entry fee of €1.
- An alternative is to duck into the nearest cafe or bar. The polite thing to do is to order something at the bar, although generally no one will say anything if you don’t.
Milan Tourist Office Centrally located in the Galleria, with helpful English-speaking staff and lots of useful maps, brochures and information on new exhibitions and events.
Travel with Children
Home to Italy’s biggest and best science museum, a castle and grand park, turn-of-the-century trams and canal cruises, Milan is more child-friendly than most imagine.
- Duomo Terraces
Few sights are as thrilling as a walk among the saints and gargoyles atop Milan’s Duomo; only suitable for children over six years old. Family tours of the Duomo are also possible.
- Science Museum
Would-be inventors and geeks of all ages will enjoy hours of fun in the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, which is filled with steam trains, Leonardo da Vinci models and a full-sized submarine.
- Historic Tram Tour
Tour the city in Milan’s historic 1920s tram No. 1. Adults pay €1.50, children under 10 ride free. See the ATM website for details.
- Torre Branca
Ride the tiny lift to the top of Gio Ponti’s Meccano-like Torre Branca for a bird’s-eye view of Castello Sforzesco.
- Family-friendly Tours
Take a tour with Ad Artem around the battlements of the Castello Sforzesco or join one of its art labs at the Museo del Novecento.
Admission Prices & Transport Fares
Entry to state museums is free for under-18s. Free entry at privately owned institutions is often restricted to children under 12 years old, with reduced fees applying to those between 12 and 18 years old.
Under-10s travel free on the public transport network. ID may be requested.
Need to Know
- When to Go Families should avoid visiting Milan during the Salone (April) and the hot summer months of July and August; mosquitos are present around the canals during summer.
- Restaurants High chairs are usually available and although kids’ menus are rare, it’s perfectly acceptable to order a mezzo piatto (half-portion).
- Babysitting Get a babysitter at zer0 zer0 Sitter (www.zerozerositter.it).
Milan is not an easy destination for travellers with disabilities and getting around can be a problem for wheelchair users when cobblestones and narrow sidewalks have to be navigated. In addition, although many buildings have lifts, they aren’t always wide enough for wheelchairs, and not much is offered in the way of assistance to the hearing- or visually impaired.
For those with limited mobility, the public transport operator ATM has introduced low-floor buses on many of its routes, and some metro stations are now equipped with suitable lifts. See the dual-language Milano Per Tutti (www.milanopertutti.it) for details and for itineraries of accessible sights.
Travellers with reduced mobility on Trenitalia trains can call 02 323 232 for assistance .
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
There are few, if any, opportunities for volunteering in Milan. The national, non-profit Legambiente (www.legambiente.it) is a useful resource for volunteering opportunities near Milan, with clean-up projects focused on alpine river networks and the Mediterranean coastline.
Homosexuality is legal in Italy and accepted in Milan, which has plenty of gay-friendly bars and clubs. That said, overt public displays of affection (either hetero- or homosexual) are uncommon in the city. For more information:
- Arcigay (www.arcigay.it) National organisation for the LGBTI community.
- Gay.it (www.gay.it) Website featuring LGBT news, feature articles and gossip.
- GayFriendlyItaly.com (www.gayfriendlyitaly.com) English-language site produced by Gay.it, featuring information on everything from hotels and events to LGBT politics and rights.