How Milan, Italy, Became the Country's Most Forward-Thinking City
It's an early spring morning in Milan. The cosmopolitan hub of Italy's north is awakening with a shot of espresso. Many are bleary-eyed after a whirlwind week celebrating the Salone del Mobile, the world's largest furniture-and-design fair. Outside Palazzo Serbelloni, I'm standing in a queue that's snaking around the neoclassical palace. If its weathered stucco walls could talk, they'd tell tales of the palazzo's notable inhabitants, including Napoleon Bonaparte and King Vittorio Emanuele II. Yet this crowd of international and local style setters and design aficionados (mostly in smart sneakers, not the suede loafers of yore) isn't searching for history; it wants to see something new. And Milan, which suddenly feels like the most forward-thinking city in Italy—a place of big ideas, investment, and innovation, busily spouting new subway lines, cutting-edge hotels, and infrastructure ahead of the 2026 Winter Olympics—is more than ready to oblige.