App Review: VisitMilano

You’re new to the city and want to see all the best tourist attractions as you settle in to your daily life. Or you’ve already been in Milan for a few weeks but you need a little help navigating your new city. Or you’ve been here months but you want to take advantage of the many events happening around town. Or you’re practically a local but you have friends or family coming to visit, ready to see all the sights.

You could surf the web for all this info, sometimes running into roadblocks if you don’t speak Italian. And right here on MilanoZine, we have a quick guide to sightseeing in Milan, which we highly recommend!

Main menuBut now there’s a one-stop solution to all these scenarios: VisitMilano. It’s the official tourism app that was recently released by the city of Milan.

Main Functions
The VisitMilano app is available for Android and iPhone – we reviewed the Android version. The main screen has several of the main features you can scroll through, with the @turismomilano Twitter feed at the bottom (with tweets in both English and Italian). You can access the menu (as seen in the screenshot) from the upper left-hand corner.

One event in this sectionThe app’s most important functions include:

  • Events: Info on events in the city
  • Attractions: Top tourist spots
  • Itineraries: Several different topic-based itineraries
  • Getting Around: Information on public transport and purchasing tickets

The other sections on the app’s main menu don’t seem to be very helpful: The “Favorites” section is simply a questionnaire, in Italian, about who you are; “Creative Milan” had just 5 design-related events and exhibits; “Chosen for you” only listed one random exhibit on my phone (even after I updated the info in the “Favorites” section); the “Milan for you” section allows you answer a questionnaire about the app and send pictures and information to Turismo Milano; and of course the Credits provides info on who developed the app.

Map view of eventsEvents and Attractions
These two sections are the backbone of the app, with lots of useful info for both tourists and longer-term residents. Events and attractions are available both as a list and on a handy map of the city, so you can get an idea of where they’re located. There are descriptions of each item, but, in our opinion, the English text could be improved upon. However, descriptions are good enough for users to understand and learn more about the city.

Both sections are divided into various categories based on your interests. Events can be searched by date and can also be saved to your phone’s calendar. Another cool feature is that some events and attractions are located outside the city, in case you’re interested in taking a day trip.

One area with room for improvement is there is no location-based list functions: that is, events and attractions can’t be listed based on your location, as is available in other apps (e.g. TripAdvisor and Swarm).

Itineraries
The app has a good selection of itineraries for various kinds of tourists. Whatever your interests, from fashion and design, to history and art to food and sports, there’s a cool itinerary for you. And, again, locations outside the city center are often included.

Menu for Getting AroundGetting Around Features
In the Getting Around section, you can purchase tickets for public transport, find out the best way to get from point A to point B (Trip planner), get info on bike sharing and parking. The “Public transport” section is supposed to give you info on the closest stop to a certain location, but it wasn’t working when I tried it (it kept pointing me to Piazza Fontana regardless of what address I inserted).

The purchase tickets functions seems to work. If you want to buy tickets, you’ll be charged using mobile phone credit (tickets can be scanned directly from your phone). Your phone can then be scanned as you go through the turnstiles to get on the subway.

Map of itineraryTrip planner can be pretty helpful to someone who’s not familiar with the city. However, it’s not very user-friendly because it just shows you a map, with no written instructions on what tram or subway to take and which direction (as you can see in the screenshot). And it can be confusing because you need to use a specific address (i.e. Piazza del Duomo, Milan) instead of a landmark like “Duomo” when you search.

The Bike sharing function works well: you’ll see where the bike stands are located and how many bikes are available at each location. It will also show you how to get to a specific bike stand, if necessary.

 

Data Usage
If you’re worried about international roaming charges, no need for concern: this app is not a data hog (though we always suggest using local WiFi whenever possible when traveling abroad!). And on our Android phone, it only takes up about 34MB of memory.

Pros
Lots of info on events, attractions and several good itineraries for travelers. The bike sharing and purchasing tickets for public transport sections can be handy.

Cons
The English used in descriptions for events and attractions is not the best. Some functions, like the Trip Planner and Chosen for You sections, need improvement.

In Short
A good app for newcomers to Milan, but let’s hope for updates soon to fix the various problems we found!

Leonardo’s Vineyard in Milano

The Renaissance master tends his garden, examining the plump grapes just before harvest. Later, while taking a break from painting the Last Supper, he oversees the winemaking process as his workers press the grapes and ferment and age the juice and pulp.  After it has been aged, he tastes the finished product and enjoys what his very own vineyard has produced.

Gate and vineyardThis is the image that a trip to La Vigna di Leonardo evokes. Experience a tour of the Renaissance villa where Leonardo Da Vinci stayed while in Milan. Then wander around the villa’s beautiful courtyard, including a small vineyard that once belonged to Leonardo himself.

This unique museum opened last year, just in time for the Expo. Leonardo’s vineyard was destroyed during WWII, but researchers recently started working on identifying the variety of grape that had been planted there. After testing the soil, the same vines were replanted in the same location as the original vineyard.

Stone well in green settingSo, if you’re curious about the Renaissance painter’s life when he lived in Milan, first go see the Last Supper. Then go to La Vigna di Leonardo.

La Vigna di Leonardo
Corso Magenta 65
+39 02 4816150
Admission: €10 full price; €8 students
Opening times: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm (last tour starts at 5:30pm)

GETTING THERE
Metro: MM1/MM2 Cadorna, MM1 Conciliazione, MM2 S. Ambrogio
Train: FNM Stazione Cadorna
Tram: 16 e 19
Bus: 18, 50, 58, 94

Of Bulls and Mice

Probably few spots in Milano are more well-known than Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, especially to tourists. Linking two of the most famed places in the city, piazza Duomo and piazza della Scala, this sophisticated gallery is an iconic passage itself, with its eclectic decorations, tiled floor and the bright dome arching over the central octagon.

Designed by at-the-time young architect Giuseppe Mengoni and built between 1865 and 1877, the gallery was inspired by those great iron buildings – like the Crystal Palace in London – that embodied the most recent technological achievements and a widespread, unwavering faith in the industrial progress. Its dome, in turn, would inspire Gustave Eiffel a few years later for his own architectural work.

As soon as it came into existence, the gallery became “il salotto di Milano” (‘Milano’s salon’), with all its caffè – Caffè Biffi opened the first, soon followed by Caffè Campari (today Zucca in Galleria) – and the many luxury shops, restaurants, and a hotel. People would gather there to discuss politics in the newborn Italy, even heatedly: and many intellectuals and artists, like Giuseppe Verdi, King Umberto I or Carlo Carrà, were regulars at those caffè.

An unorthodox lucky charm

There’s a very peculiar tradition regarding Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

If you get to the ottagono, the gallery’s central area where its two branches meet, and stroll around it looking at the floor, you’ll notice five coats of arms. The central one belongs to Casa Savoia, the reigning family back when Italy was a monarchy (that is, up until 1946 when the people, via referendum, chose the republic instead); the other ones, in a circle around it, are the crests of the four cities that have been, at various times, capitals of Italy. In order: Milano (in the Napoleonic era), Torino, Firenze and Roma (under the Savoias).

You see Turin’s? The one with a rampant bull? Maybe you can’t properly make out the crest because there are so many people around it—and someone’s circling strangely around their own right heel, it looks dumb…

Get closer. Their heel’s actually on the bull’s lower region, and you’ll notice that person’s turning around exactly for three times.

Still puzzled? Just follow the example. It’s good luck. 🙂

The allegories

After you’ve secured your fate, have another stroll around the ottagono, only this time with your nose up in the air.

You’ll see paintings alternate with the arches under the dome. Those four frescoes are the so-called allegories. An allegory is like a symbol, where certain images represent an idea, a concept that you understand through a rational interpretation. In this case, they represent four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa and America.

Aren’t they beautiful?

There were also four other allegories by the two short entrances, representing the Human Activities: Science, Industry, Art and Agriculture. They’re no longer at their place, though—today they can be found at the GAM (Modern Art Gallery).

A mouse at the speed of light – Meet the ‘rattin’

Now keep your nose up. Have you ever wondered how the dome was lit when there was no electricity?

You’d be amazed to know the job was done by a mouse. Rattin (the dialectal for tiny mouse) was in facts its name.

It was not a real one, though. At the beginning, lighting in the galleria was still provided by round gas lamps (that are still visible today, between a shop window and another), often with the addition of hanging chandeliers. But this was only in the very gallery, alongside shops and cafes.

How the dome was lit was another matter.

For that, architect Mengoni found a brilliant solution. At the base of the dome was a series of jets to burn with an open flame. To set them on fire, he built like a mini-rail where a spring-loaded device would run, soaked in some inflammable liquid, lighting up the jets as it passed. Ever since its first appearance, this mechanism awoke the Milanese’s admiration, and stories are told about how people would gather at lighting time just to see the little thing run around—just like a tiny mouse. 🙂

More on the gallery can be found in Italian over at Vecchia Milano (here and here). Also, don’t miss the coolness of a HD virtual visit at the ottagono!

Venice in a Day!

Venice is one the most beautiful cities in the world and I recommend all Bocconians to visit it! However, we do not have much time to allocate, so we must be very efficient in our Venice tour. I will therefore give you the best schedule to enjoy the city in exactly 8 hours!

1) 7:05am Pick a day and buy you train tickets! I would recommend you take the Milano Centrale – Venezia Santa Lucia 7:05am train for the outward journey. You will be in Venice at 9:40am. Check the Trenitalia website for info on specials and student discounts. Price: €18-€30.00. Time: 2h35min.

2) 9:40am Visit the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute and the Peggy Guggenheim museum. Buy a 1-day vaporetto ticket from ticket machine for €20 (more info on the Venice transport website). Get on the shuttle line 1 at pier “Ferrovia” and get off at pier “Salute” (shuttle time: 35min). Price for basilica: free. Price for Guggenheim museum: €9 for students.

3) 11:30am Stroll around Piazza San Marco, visit the Basilica San Marco and climb up the Campanile. Take vaporetto line 1 from “Salute” to “San Marco Giardinetti” and you are now in Piazza San Marco! Time at Basilica: 20min. Price of Campanile entrance: €8. Time at Campanile: 20min.

4) 12:45pm Have lunch! Wander around the streets a little bit and avoid the tourist traps in Piazza San Marco, they can be super-pricey!

5) 1:45pm Visit the Palazzo Ducale! Price: €11 for students. Time: 1h.

6) 3:15pm Browse one of the exhibits showcased at the Palazzo Grassi Museum and have a cup of coffee at the museum bar. Take line 3 at “San Marco Giardinetti” and get off at “San Samuele”. You are facing the Palazzo, enjoy! Museum price: €10. Time: 1h.

7) 5:00pm Discover the furnaces of the legendary island of Murano! Take the shuttle back to “Ferrovia” from “San Samuele” using line 2. Then the orange line called “DM” at “Ferrovia” and get off the shuttle at “Murano Colonna.”

8 ) 6:15pm Have an early dinner one of the many typical trattorias or restaurants on Strada Nova. To get back to Venice from Murano take the DM shuttle the other way around and get off at pier “Ferrovia.” Then walk 15 minutes to get from the pier to Strada Nova.

9) 7:30pm You are back at the station Venezia San Lucia and you should be on train back to Milano leaving at 7:50pm, the last train of the day!

I hope you all enjoy you tour of Venice as much as I did with my friends. I know it’s a tight schedule but this is the most efficient way to have a great trip and and visit the best places of the city!

Protip: Prices, opening hours for museums/monuments and shuttle schedules may be subjected to changes so I advise you make sure the above-mentioned places are open.

Top 20 Reasons to Study Abroad in Italy

One of the most frequently-asked question you’re asked before you leave for your study abroad program is, “So, why did you choose that particular country to study abroad?” Your response is usually, “Well, that university had just the right program for my academic interests, it was the perfect fit! And I’ll be able to study exactly what I’m interested in and get the experience I need for my future studies and career.”

But we all know the truth: your decision to study in Italy was probably based in part on reasons other than your education! You’re aware that you won’t be spending the whole time in the classroom. And there are lots of aspects to living in a foreign country that you thought about before deciding which place was right for you.

These are the top 20 reasons to study abroad in Italy, the allure of the bel paese:

Lifestyle

1. Italy is famous for la dolce vita: that means making the most of the little things in life, not sweating the “small stuff” and just enjoying yourself!

2. You love the sound of the melodic Italian language. Living and studying in Italy means you’ll be hearing the dulcet tones of the language every day.

3. You’ve always been curious why Italian people are always using their hands when they talk and you want to find out what all those different hand gestures mean.

Festive Ape Piaggio 4. And you don’t really know the rules of cheek kissing: is it one kiss or two? Or three? When you meet someone, when saying good-bye? Part of your informal education in Italy will include the art of the friendly kiss!

5. The cool confidence of the country’s soccer players was palpable at this year’s World Cup (even if the Azzurri team didn’t get very far in the championship!). And if you’re a fan of the game, the culture surrounding calcio in Italy is pretty serious. There are so many the great teams in the Serie A league to cheer for: Milan, Inter, Roma, Lazio, Juventus, Fiorentina…

6. Small city cars and scooters are all over Italy! Vespas, Ape Piaggios, Fiat 500s, Minis, Smarts… And the vintage models are the best! Why not take a drive when you’re studying abroad?

7. Not to mention all the super-sleek and fast sports cars. Italy is home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Abarth and Ducati motorcycles.

8. You might have gotten a taste of Italy from classic neorealist cinema: think a young Sophia Loren in black and white. You need to find out if that version of the country still exists somewhere.

9. And you know that Italy is famous for amazing fashion and design. Even if you don’t go to any fashion shows or the annual Salone del Mobile in Milano, you can still soak in the easy but fabulous style of the Italians around you.

Italian seaside town at nightTravel

10. The weather: most of the country has a nice, mild Mediterranean climate, not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer. When it is cold, skiing is usually an option. And when it is hot, the beach is usually only a short trip away!

11. Lots of famous art and culture from the Renaissance was produced right here in Italy. That means the museums all over the country are bursting with masterpieces!

12. Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Sicily… There are so many tourist destinations, it’s hard to choose where to start!

13. With 7,600km of coastline, Italy has been ranked the 14th country in the world for length of coastline. And much of that is covered in beautiful beaches, perfect for people watching, getting a great tan and swimming in the Mediterranean. You have to experience it for yourself.

Food and Drink

14. Italy is serious about its pasta. And each of the scores of shapes has a specific traditional sauce to go with it. You need to learn more about all those recipes and especially how they taste!

15. Italy’s famous for so many delicious delicacies: tiramisù, varied pastries, as well as so many kinds of cheese, prosciutto, truffles, olive oil…

16. Lots of Italians take part in the pre-dinner ritual of taking a moment to relax over drinks with friends, usually with a snack or maybe a buffet. When you’re studying abroad, you have to learn more about the Italian tradition of the aperitivo! Try a Negroni, a Bellini, a Spritz, or just a beer, a glass of wine or a soft drink.

Bocconi students tasting wine17. Espresso! And of course caffè macchiato, latte macchiato, caffè lungo, caffè corretto, cappuccino, marocchino, orzo in tazza grande, cioccolata, decaffeinato, however you like it!

18. Because what better way to learn about wine varietals, vintages, aromas and tastes than a Tuscan vineyard? Wine is produced just about everywhere in Italy and each region has its own specialty.

19. Italy invented possibly one of the most perfect foods in the world: pizza! While you’re studying abroad here, you can visit Naples and try the original pizza margherita. Or just enjoy anything your local pizzeria serves up, it’s all wonderful!

20. Italy is also home to the best form of ice cream on the planet. Gelato is served in a variety of traditional and innovative flavors all across the peninsula. During your program you can take your time trying them all!

Take a Day Trip to Como

Even though we do love living in Milan, there are weeks where everyone needs a break from city life. The best part about living in a geographically central city such as Milan is that there are ample opportunities to go to nearby places in Europe for a visit. Most of the big European cities are not more than an hour and a half away by flight, and budget airlines have made travelling much cheaper these days. However, if you do want to take a short break from Milan and still not go too far away, fear not, Italy itself has some amazing little towns that you can visit just in the course of a day.

The town of Como is a perfect getaway for a weekend day trip. Situated on the banks of Lago di Como and encircled by the Alps on three sides, this picturesque town exudes Italian small town charm. Como is famous not only because of the various celebrities that own villas there (eg. George Clooney) but also for its laid back atmosphere, rich cultural history and of course, the lakeside view.

A few suggestions about what you can do in Como in the course of a day:

  1. Walk through the historical city center area and visit the Duomo (the main Cathedral), which is commonly described as the last Gothic cathedral built in Italy. There are several other medieval churches and structures along the way that merit attention as well.
  2. Stroll through the scenic path by the lake, and you can even take a short boat or a ferry ride around the Lago di Como.
  3. At the end of the path by the lake, there is a beautiful public garden that is worth visiting, which also has the famous the neoclassical structure of the Tempio Voltiano and the Volta Museum (incidentally Como was the birthplace of the famous Italian physicist, Alessandro Volta, known universally for designing the first electric cell circuit).
  4. If you have some more time, you can take the funicular railway to the tiny village of Brunate, which has about 1800 inhabitants. The view of the lake from top of the mountain is exquisite and is 715 meters above sea level. For those of you interested in hiking, there are a lot of scenic hiking paths on the mountain as well.

For more information about Como, visit their official tourism website over here.

Como is well connected from Milan and is just an hour away from the city by train. Trains to Como leave frequently every day from the Stazione Centrale of Milan, as well as Cadorna, and stop right downtown, near the lake (the Como Lago stop). For more information on train schedules, have a look at the Trenitalia and Le Nord websites.

Tour the City!

Bus and tourist in front of La ScalaWhat’s the best way to take a tour of a new city? If your best friend doesn’t happen to be an expert on the history, architecture and art in and around Milano, don’t worry, there are plenty of options for learning about and seeing the town. So, if you’re new to the city, or you have friends or family coming to visit, here are just a few ideas!

City Sightseeing Bus Tour
One option for tour seekers is a convenient hop-on, hop-off tour around the city. Just look for he double-decker red buses you see around so many European cities these days (not to mention some non-European cities), which are also available in Milano. Your “tour guide” speaks through recorded bits of info which are played at various times during the trip, explaining your surroundings. Participants just choose the language they prefer and get on and off whenever they want. Each ticket provides access to 2 routes for a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes, which can be used during a 48-hour period. Tickets are €20 per person.
This is a good way get access to some public transportation and have the freedom of getting on and off whenever you want. Check out their website for information on times and routes.

Silhouette and text Urban SafariUrban Safari Tour
The ultimate easy way to discover Milan. Guided tours through Urban Safari Tour will allow you to visit the city with ease, together with a group of people who share the same preferences, on foot wherever possible or on public transport, including underground trains, trams and buses. While on an urban safari, you can discover local customs and traditions, little-known spots, trendy neighborhoods and historical establishments, all of which may be selected from a range of topics: Art, Architecture, Design, Lifestyle, Music, Fashion.
Urban Safari is for the ‘smart traveler’, the discerning tourist, a true urban explorer, who demands quality, innovation and most of all standards of service on par with what other European capitals can offer. The goal is to guide you through our cultural heritage from the perspective of a local. From an off-beat metropolis with an underground culture to a workaday and cosmopolitan city, you will be led on the discovery of a different way of exploring Milan and living out a truly unique experience.
Each itinerary includes a stop by a coffee shop or a local bar for a light lunch or aperitivo.
More information on prices, times and how to book is available on their website.

Restaurant tram at night in front of castle

ATMosfera Tram Restaurant
This isn’t an actual guided tour of the city, but it does give you the opportunity to see different parts of Milano from a unique viewpoint.
Just think: an evening being taken around town in an old-fashioned tram, with well-trained servers balancing trays of delicious Italian food, catching potential spills as the tram changes tracks or jerks over a bumpy section of cobblestone.
This experience doesn’t come cheap, however, and the fixed price menu is €65 per person (including wine). Trams leave from Piazza Castello every evening at 8:00pm. But be sure to make reservations in advance – up to 75 days before the dinner – because the trams are small and fill up fast. If you want a special evening and have some cash, this is a fun option! Info on how to book and pay for a dinner and a ride are available on the ATM website.

It’s Great to Be in Italy During the Summer!

Have you just arrived in Italy wondering what to do until the academic year starts? Or are you coming very soon to spend the rest of the summer in Milan? After looking for accommodation and settling in, you cannot miss the chance to discover the city, of course, but mostly the nearby natural and cultural attractions.

For example, you can go and rest, surrounded by the natural environment of the many Alpine lakes spread over Northern Italy, either taking a trip to the mountains, or just sunbathing at the seaside in Liguria Region. Anywhere you go, you’ll also start to get to know the worldwide famous Italian culture, history and arts. There are a lot of destinations and suggestions that you can compare, according to your tastes, time and budget.

First of all, if you’re longing to experience the fresh air of the sea, while sunbathing close to the mountains, then the right place to go are the lakes, such as Lago di Como, Lago di Garda, Lago Maggiore.

The first of these destinations is often mentioned in tabloids for being the holiday residence of very popular people from the international jet-set from the past, and even today. Lago di Garda is the biggest lake in Italy and resembles a sea, with its nice beaches and clear water.

Lago Maggiore is about an hour’s drive from Milan, and I really recommend its attractive islands: Isola Madre, Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori and Isole di Brissago. Since all these are touristic destinations there may be some really crowded spots, but there’s always the opportunity to find a quiet place. In the evening and night, if you are interested in classical music, you can’t miss the opportunity to go to the Stresa Festival, which gathers musicians and artists from all over the world in the charming setting of Lago Maggiore, since 1961.

Moreover, as you may already know, Italy boasts the beautiful embrace of the Alps Mountains. So why not having a week-end trip to Aprica, or Bormio, in Valtellina? Or go to Valle d’Aosta, with its many beauties, either to Alagna Valsesia, the so called “Free ride paradise” or Macugnaga, in Northern Piedmont.

Monte Rosa
The Dolomites Mountains are also a very popular destination among Italians and foreigners. Since the journey from Milan lasts about 3 or 4 hours, depending on the places, it would be better to dedicate them a longer trip than a couple of days. The national railway system and the rest of the transport network link Milan to all these destinations, you only need to check the timetables, on the national railway website, or on the above-linked local official websites.

As an alternative to any of these options, if you are addicted to the beach, Liguria is the fastest solution: there are trains taking you straight from Milan to Genoa or to the renowned Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino.

And, finally, if you like the idea of sunbathing but are too lazy to travel, or for the many cultural and musical events taking place in the city, then the best option is to go to Idroscalo, an artificial lake which was originally built as a seaplane airport, in the eastern neighborhood of Milan.

Just one further suggestion, let good music inspire your soul. At the beginning of September there are going to be excellent music concerts for the MiTo festival, a festival linking Milan and Turin in the promotion and organization of important concerts and shows. This year MiTo takes place from the 5th until 23rd September… What a perfect conclusion for your Italian Summer!

Bocconi Student Interview of the Day

Today I’d like to talk you about life in Milan from the point of view of an international, non-European student who’s attending the BIEMF (Bachelor of International Economics, Management and Finance) at Università Bocconi. His name is Takin and he comes from Tehran, the capital of Iran. I met Takin a couple of weeks ago and started talking with him about his past and the time he has been spending in Milano, since he came here in July 2011. Read carefully, most of the time the best help can lay low daily life!

How long have you been living in Milan?
I’ve been here since July 2011. I’m attending the first year of BIEMF at Università Bocconi. I came here two months earlier since I was taking part in a language course at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci, where I was learning Italian – and I still have to improve it. The institution had a really friendly vibe. 15 to 20 students formed each class and they all had international background. For me it was more of getting acquainted with different people while learning the basics of Italian language. I would suggest to those students who have the possibility of arriving in Milan few months prior to the start of their university course to attend an Italian language school.

What is the procedure for applying for this institution?
I found Scuola Leonardo da Vinci online, and I submitted my application online too. This Institution provides accommodation for prospective student upon their request and they also organize various cultural events and there are numerous occasions for socializing.

Did you find it difficult to learn Italian and to adapt to Italian culture and lifestyle? What would you suggest to the forthcoming international students?
Since most of the international students attend courses that are held in English they will not encounter any problem in particular. Add on to that, in Bocconi’s environment everyone speaks English sufficiently good as to not let the language barrier be a source of inconvenience for you. I must however say that, this barrier to communication will eventually prevent you from socializing outside the circle of your international friends.

Do you mean out of the academic world?
I would say out of BIEMF course. Even though most of the students at Bocconi do speak English, they lag behind once the content of conversation entails a mediocre understanding of English.
Outside the university environment, for an international student dealing with daily routine works it does not necessitate a previous knowledge of Italian in my opinion.

What did you do before leaving your country?
I finished my high school in Tehran and thereafter I traveled abroad, mainly to improve my English. I spent few months preparing for Toefl and SAT after I was convinced to take the latter instead of Bocconi’s entrance exam since they did not provide a comprehensive guideline for it. Besides, SAT is a globally recognized certificate with numerous publishers providing instructions and preparations for its tests. With having SAT certificate and a high GPA, you would ensure your place at Bocconi.

If you owned a Time Machine, would you change anything in what you did?
I don’t think I would! I made many mistakes and I had my regrets in life, but I rely on those experiences as my personal mentor. They influence you, teach you and build your personality more than anything else, I believe. Yet If I knew I would have difficulties with finding an apartment, I would have been more careful in my choice.

When did you start looking for an accommodation?
I had already found an apartment prior to my arrival. But things didn’t go well, and in September I had to move. You can imagine looking for a place in September is not always easy. I had to look for one or two apartments each day after lectures since my contract was ending. Eventually I found a place in one of Bocconi residences and I am still residing there. This waste of time for me preceded other problems too.

Is there any tip you want to give to students looking for accommodations from abroad?
I just have to mention to those who are looking for accommodation online, they have to be ensured about the nature of housing websites. With those like craigslist you have to be more cautious and knowing that there are many scams! I would suggest the housing websites that are available in Università Bocconi’s website that you can find in house haunting section. I also found easystanza.it and Immobiliare.it useful.

… While once you are here?
Announcements for renting are almost ubiquitous around university. From Notices pinned to trees outside to others on the boards inside the buildings you can find numerous rooms, apartments, and lofts to rent.
Of course, real estate agencies are always available however they charge a commission fee if using their service.

What are the steps to follow to come to Italy as a Non-European citizen?
This – Takin shows me a detailed sheet – is something they gave me in Bocconi: “Relocation in Milan”.
Within 8 working days of arrival, NON-EU citizens who hold a valid student visa for Italy must apply for a permit of stay for study purposes (Permesso di soggiorno per motivi di studio) that is issued by the local Police Department ( Questura – Ufficio Stranieri ).

To be identified as an individual person in the Italian state when dealing with public offices and administrations a Fiscal Code (Codice Fiscale) must be requested and obtained from “ Agenzia delle Entrate”.

In Italy, national healthcare is provided by a public healthcare service (SSN: National Healthcare Service) and only foreign nationals with a valid permit of stay can apply for the service.
Opening an Italian bank account also requires having a Permit of stay and a Fiscal Code.

About softer topics… Let’s talk about cuisine, do you miss Iranian dishes?
Of course I do miss them and nothing would replace Iranian dishes for me. But it comes without saying that if you are in Italy you will above all relish their delectable cuisine. You don’t have to be a chef to prepare a delicious meal because it is easy to make using Italian ingredients.

And what about the habits you had while living in your homeland that you cannot do here?
I cannot recall a particular habit, but studying abroad in general is different than living with your family in your hometown. The spread spectrum and the variety of choices you have in a cosmopolitan city like Milano is not comparable to my hometown.

What’s your attitude towards Milano? Are there any special places in the city you would suggest to go to?
After I strolled around the city center for the first time, one thing that really stood out for me was the most stunning piece of architecture, the gothic cathedral of Milan, Duomo. Milan is a wealthy city of glamorous people, full of stylish boutiques, marvelous restaurants and on-trend nightlife. On Friday and Saturday nights Colonne di San Lorenzo is packed with people of every kind. It is a great place to get to know new people and socialize. I would like to mention that Blue Note is my favorite place. This venue is known for hosting top-notch jazz in a classy atmosphere. Since the ticket prices are a bit steep, a student life will not allow you to be a frequent visitor. If you appreciate jazz music, I would most certainly suggest visiting Blue Note. From nightclubs like Alcatraz with its retro nights and 60s, 80s style, to commercial clubs like Old Fashion and Just Cavalli, you have everything to make your nightlife enjoyable in Milan.