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If you are an Exchange student coming to Milan/Italy for the 1st time in January 2018, probably you start to be quite excited: in less than 2 months, you’ll have a great experience!
Joy, excitement, worries…a lot of emotions!
I’m Ottavia, I’m Italian and I live in Milan, I’m the manager of the website RentalMilan.com.
We rent out the apartments since the 2007, mainly to young foreign students, therefore I understand your feelings 😉 I’d like to give you some information, to know a bit more about Milanesi habits and make your settle in stress free!
Christmas holidays for the schools in Italy start on the 22nd December 2018 until the 6th January 2019.
On the 25th December, Christmas, everything is closed, even the largest malls.
Only restaurants and some bars are open. Most of the shops are closed also on the 26th December, Santo Stefano. The 1st January (Capodanno) and the 6th January (la Befana o Epifania) are vacation as well.
From the 24th December to the 1st January also most of the real estate agencies are closed, just for your info if are thinking to come to Milan searching for an apartment on rent! 😉
On the 31st December we use to have the “cenone di Capodanno”, it’s a never-ending dinner with a lot of food and wine! At midnight we make the “brindisi” (a toast with spumante, Italian Champagne) to the new Year.
After Christmas, until the end of January or even mid February, there are the sales: the perfect time for shopping lovers!
To go around the city by public transports it’s quite easy, but it’s good to know you can’t buy the ticket on the bus/metro! You can easily buy it from the App “ATM” (Azienda Trasporti Milanese), paying with your phone credit.
From the end of November until the end of January the streets and the shops are lightened by decorations and trees.
The nicest Christmas tree is in Duomo square, or Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
There also some nice and typical open-air markets in the streets, like the one in piazza Gae Aulenti.
It snows very seldom, even if it snows, the snows on the streets usually lasts less than 1 day.
On the 6th January, la Befana, nowadays is mainly connected with an old woman flying on a broom, bringing candies to the children, usually inside a sock, the famous “calza della Befana”. The religious name is “Epifania” and we say “L’Epifania, tutte le feste le porta via!”, it means this day brings away all the vacations, because the next ones will be in Easter (“Pasqua”), the next year it will be on the 21st April 2019.
Some Milanesi (Italian people living in Milan), during Christmas holidays, go to ski on the Alps, a few of them go to enjoy the summer in the Caribbean or Maldives, but ALL OF THEM enjoy their time with their family and relatives.
Italy is very Catholic, also the less religious people, go to Christmas Mass on the 25t December at midnight: the one in Duomo is very very crowded, but picturesque.
From the 7th January everybody comes back to school and to work!