Milan, capital of Lombardy, is heaven on earth for opera buffs, art lovers, fashionistas and gourmands. Headquarters to Italy’s largest banks and multinational companies, it is also the main industrial, commercial and financial center of Italy.

With one of the highest population and industrial densities in Europe, Milan is home to roughly 9.3 million people. Even so, its health care and education systems rank among the best.

While business-centric Milan has long since done away with the good old three-hour pranzo (lunch), food-loving Italians and expats need not suffer. Local sandwich bars in the business district have made paninis an art form, with some offering over 100 variations of delectable toppings.

Whether it be opera at La Scala, honing your fashion IQ on Milan’s haute couture powerhouse the Quadrilatero d'Oro (golden rectangle), feasting your eyes on Da Vinci’s Last Supper, or on the Pinacoteca di Brera art museum’s modest, yet exquisite collection of works, culture vultures will find no shortage of distractions in this alpha-European city.

Just near Linate airport on the city’s outskirts, you can find Mussolini’s man-made Lake Idroscalo. Evocative of a Mediterranean resort, you’ll find beach clubs, barbecue areas, shores lined with pedalos (pedal-powered paddleboats) and kids splashing in any of three open-air swimming pools. There is truly something for everyone in Milan.