Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Venice had always traded extensively with the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East. By the late 13th century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce. Venice's leading families vied with each other to build the grandest palaces and to support the work of the greatest and most talented artists. The city was governed by the Great Council, which was made up of members of the noble families of Venice. The Great Council appointed all public officials, and elected a Senate of 200 to 300 individuals. Since this group was too large for efficient administration, a Council of Ten (also called the Ducal Council, or the Signoria), controlled much of the administration of the city. One member of the great council was elected "doge", or duke, to be the chief executive; he would usually hold the title until his death, although several Doges were forced, by pressure from their oligarchical peers, to resign and retire into monastic seclusion, when they were felt to have been discredited by political failure.
During the Second World War, the historic city was largely free from attack, the only aggressive effort of note being Operation Bowler, a successful Royal Air Force precision strike on the German naval operations in the city in March 1945. The targets were destroyed with virtually no architectural damage inflicted on the city itself. However, the industrial areas in Mestre and Marghera and the railway lines to Padua, Trieste, and Trento were repeatedly bombed. On 29 April 1945, a force of British and New Zealand troops of the British Eighth Army, under Lieutenant General Freyberg, liberated Venice, which had been a hotbed of anti-Mussolini Italian partisan activity.
The classic Venetian boat is the gondola, (plural: gondole) although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies, or as traghetti (sing.: traghetto) to cross the Grand Canal in lieu of a nearby bridge. The traghetti are operated by two oarsmen. For some years there were seven such boats; but by 2017, only three remained.
The Venice People Mover is an elevated shuttle train public transit system connecting Tronchetto island with its car parking facility with Piazzale Roma where visitors arrive in the city by bus, taxi, or automobile. The train makes a stop at the Marittima cruise terminal at the Port of Venice.
The political unification of Italy enhanced Milan's economic dominance over northern Italy. A dense rail network, whose construction had started under Austrian patronage, was completed in a brief time, making Milan the rail hub of northern Italy and, with the opening of the Gotthard (1882) and Simplon (1906) railway tunnels, the major South European rail hub for goods and passenger transport. Indeed, Milan and Venice were among the main stops of the Orient Express that started operating from 1919. Abundant hydroelectric resources allowed the development of a strong steel and textile sector and, as Milanese banks dominated Italy's financial sphere, the city became the country's leading financial centre. Very rapid industrialization in the last two decades of the 1800s led to the birth of a massive worker class as well as bitter social conflicts. In May 1898, Milan was shaken by the Bava Beccaris massacre, a riot related to soaring cost of living.
In the 1980s, with the international success of Milanese houses (like Armani, Prada, Versace, Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana), Milan became one of the world's fashion capitals. The city saw also a marked rise in international tourism, notably from America and Japan, while the stock exchange increased its market capitalisation more than five-fold. This period led the mass media to nickname the metropolis "Milano da bere", literally "Milan to be drunk". However, in the 1990s, Milan was badly affected by Tangentopoli, a political scandal in which many politicians and businessmen were tried for corruption. The city was also affected by a severe financial crisis and a steady decline in textiles, automobile and steel production. Berlusconi's Milano 2 and Milano 3 projects were the most important housing projects of the 1980s and 1990s in Milan and brought to the city new economical and social energy.
Milan is the capital of the eponymous Metropolitan city. According to the last governmental dispositions concerning administrative reorganisation, the urban area of Milan is one of the 15 Metropolitan municipalities (città metropolitane), new administrative bodies fully operative since 1 January 2015. The new Metro municipalities, giving large urban areas the administrative powers of a province, are conceived for improving the performance of local administrations and to slash local spending by better co-ordinating the municipalities in providing basic services (including transport, school and social programs) and environment protection. In this policy framework, the Mayor of Milan is designated to exercise the functions of Metropolitan mayor (Sindaco metropolitano), presiding over a Metropolitan Council formed by 24 mayors of municipalities within the Metro municipality. The Metropolitan City of Milan is headed by the Metropolitan Mayor (Sindaco metropolitano) and by the Metropolitan Council (Consiglio metropolitano). Since 21 June 2016 Giuseppe Sala, as mayor of the capital city, has been the mayor of the Metropolitan City.
Decades of continuing high immigration have made the city the most cosmopolitan and multicultural in Italy. Milan notably hosts the oldest and largest Chinese community in Italy, with almost 34,000 people in 2021. Situated in the 9th district, and centred on Via Paolo Sarpi, an important commercial avenue, the Milanese Chinatown was originally established in the 1920s by immigrants from Wencheng County, in the Zhejiang province, and used to operate small textile and leather workshops.
Since the late 1800s, the area of Milan has been a major industrial and manufacturing centre. Alfa Romeo automobile company and Falck steel group employed thousands of workers in the city until the closure of their sites in Arese in 2004 and Sesto San Giovanni in 1995. Other global industrial companies, such as Edison, Prysmian Group, Riva Group, Saras, Saipem and Techint, maintain their headquarters and significant employment in the city and its suburbs. Other relevant industries active in metro Milan include chemicals (e.g. Mapei, Versalis, Tamoil Italy), home appliances (e.g. Candy), hospitality (UNA Hotels & Resorts), food & beverages (e.g. Bertolli, Campari), machinery, medical technologies (e.g. Amplifon, Bracco), plastics and textiles. The construction (e.g. Webuild), retail (e.g. Esselunga, La Rinascente) and utilities (e.g. A2A, Edison S.p.A., Snam, Sorgenia) sectors are also large employers in the Greater Milan.
The city is home to numerous media and advertising agencies, national newspapers and telecommunication companies, including both the public service broadcaster RAI and private television companies like Mediaset and Sky Italia. In addition, it hosts the headquarters of the largest Italian publishing companies, such as Feltrinelli, Giunti Editore, Messaggerie Italiane [it], Mondadori, RCS Media Group, and Rusconi Libri [it]. Milan has also seen a rapid increase in the presence of IT companies, with both domestic and international companies such as Altavista, Google, Italtel, Lycos, Microsoft, Virgilio and Yahoo! establishing their Italian operations in the city.
Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, where the sector can count on 12,000 companies, 800 show rooms, and 6,000 sales outlets; the city hosts the headquarters of global fashion houses such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Luxottica, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Zegna and four weeks a year are dedicated to fashion events. The city is also a global hub for event management and trade fairs. FieraMilano operates the world's fourth largest exhibition hall in Rho, were international exhibitions like Milan Furniture Fair, EICMA, EMO take place on 400,000 square metres of exhibition areas with more than 4 million visitors in 2018.
Milan is a major national and international centre of the performing arts, most notably opera. The city hosts La Scala operahouse, considered one of the world's most prestigious, having throughout history witnessed the premieres of numerous operas, such as Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi in 1842, La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli, Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini in 1904, Turandot by Puccini in 1926, and more recently Teneke, by Fabio Vacchi in 2007. Other major theatres in Milan include the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Teatro Dal Verme, Teatro Lirico and formerly the Teatro Regio Ducale. The city is also the seat of a renowned symphony orchestra and musical conservatory, and has been, throughout history, a major centre for musical composition: numerous famous composers and musicians such as Gioseppe Caimo, Simon Boyleau, Hoste da Reggio, Verdi, Giulio Gatti-Casazza, Paolo Cherici and Alice Edun lived and worked in Milan. The city is also the birthplace of many modern ensembles and bands, including Camaleonti, Camerata Mediolanense, Gli Spioni, Dynamis Ensemble, Elio e le Storie Tese, Krisma, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Quartetto Cetra, Stormy Six and Le Vibrazioni.
Milan is also regarded as one of the fashion capitals of the world, along with New York City, Paris, and London. Milan is synonymous with the Italian prêt-à-porter industry, as many of the most famous Italian fashion brands, such as Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, are headquartered in the city. Numerous international fashion labels also operate shops in Milan. Furthermore, the city hosts the Milan Fashion Week twice a year, one of the most important events in the international fashion system. Milan's main upscale fashion district, quadrilatero della moda, is home to the city's most prestigious shopping streets (Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Manzoni and Corso Venezia), in addition to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping malls. 2b1af7f3a8