Anonymous Asked
QuestionI'm visiting Milan, flying in to Malpensa Airport and will be staying at the Lancaster Hotel, Via Abbondio Sangiorgio, and want to know if there's a convenient way to get there (or thereabouts) by train from the airport? Answer

Really? Ten seconds on the Malpensa Airport website gave me the answer to this.

There are over 40 trains a day from the airport to Milano Cadorna station, which is just under a mile from your hotel (including a pleasant stroll through the delightful Parco Sempione if you like). Some trains are direct, others stop at intermediate stations. Make sure you’re going to Cadorna, not Centrale, which is much further away from your part of town.

Just a reminder that I’m really not your best source of information for making travel plans — there are better places on the Internet to get that sort of thing! Airports are normally pretty good at letting you know how to get to/from them.

Official Map: TILO Commuter Rail – Ticino, Switzerland and Lombardy, Italy

The emergence of a unified Europe has led to a gradual but noticeable blurring of borders between countries in Europe, which now seem to often exist only on maps. With free and easy travel between the European countries that are bound by the Schengen Agreement, it’s not impossible for people to live in one country and work in another, especially when they live close to a border.

This map shows transit services in such an area, the border between Italy and Switzerland north of Milan. Here, Italian Lombardy (shown with a grey background) borders the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino (white background). Transit between the two areas is becoming more intertwined and reliable, as this map illustrates. The services offered by the issuer of the map — TILO — are the two-digit “S-number” lines: S10, S20, S30 and the narrow-gauge S-60. However, the map also shows the lines of Milan’s own commuter rail network that interact with these services: the S4, S5, S9 and S11 routes, as well as indicating a (slower) regional service that runs between the two provinces. Even the extent of Milan’s Metro is indicated, as are its interchanges with these commuter rail services.

The map itself is quite handsomely produced, and has a distinctive look of its own. The typeface used – Syntax – has a friendly, slightly quirky look to it that helps lift the map up from that typically efficient but clinical Swiss design. The “subway map” stylings definitely help to convey a sense of modernity and speed, even though the main centres shown on the map would take quite a while to travel between (1.5 hours from Milan to Bellinzona; almost three hours from Milan to Airolo).

If there’s a weakness to the map, it’s probably the multitudes of blue bus routes shown on the Swiss side of the border: they clutter that part of the map with a lot of visual noise and probably don’t contain enough routing information to be that useful past an initial confirmation that a town is serviced by a bus route.

Our rating: An attractive and modern-looking map that combines information from different transit agencies to benefit its customers: always a good thing! Three-and-a-half stars!

3.5 Stars

(Source: Official TILO website)

Submission - Unofficial Map: Metro and Suburban Rail, Milan

Submitted by Dmitry Goloub, who says:

It all started when in Moscow was initiated a public tender for creation of a new, modern metro map. I was really excited and made an imaginary metro map for Florence (IRL there’s no metro).

But then I thought that I can do something really useful. A map for a real transport system that would be helpful, beautiful and clean.

I have completely redesigned the Milan Metro Map. I have added the latest updates with line M5, a grid with alphabetic list of stations, airports, I have created a new set of pictograms and packed them into a symbol font. I have created a completely new style that does not copy any other transport map in the world.

This map now has its own character, just like the city. The emphasis is put on the M lines however you can clearly understand how to use both M and S lines, how to get from point A to point B. The current official map just shows the S stations, it does not show to which line a station belongs.

I have excluded the regular railways (RFI) because they’re not a metropolitan transport.

Full project information and a PDF is here, free for download.


Transit Maps says:

Wow. This is absolutely beautiful work,and quite superior to the somewhat stuffy official map (March 2012, 3.5 stars).

Dimitry hits the nail on the head when he says this map now has a character that’s unique to the city, and its a look that feels appropriate for fashion-conscious, forward-looking Milan. Everything here is created especially for this map: the lovely custom icons, the square-yet-round station markers, and the stunning ribbon-like effect used for the suburban rail lines, which has a lovely rhythmical flow to it. Even the slight checkerboarding pattern used for the grid (alternating squares are tinted a little darker) — which could look clumsy if not handled well — is handled deftly and subtly.

Our rating: Hand-crafted excellence that suits its target city perfectly. 5 stars.

5 Stars!

P.S. Seriously, are Russians the best transit map designers at the moment or what? This beautiful piece, Michael Kvrivishvili’s contest-winning MBTA map and Lebedev Studio’s Moscow Metro redesign. All such beautiful work and something for other designers to aspire to.

  1. Camera: Canon EOS 1000D
  2. Aperture: f/7.1
  3. Exposure: 1/100th
  4. Focal Length: 37mm

Detail, Transit Map of Milan, Italy

A detail of a city-wide map showing the approximate limits of the historical centre of Milan. I’m guessing that this is located in or near the Duomo Metro station, based on the way that the map is worn away at that point — as I’ve mentioned before, many users will actually point to their starting location on a map as they trace their intended route.

Tge thick green/yellow/red lines are the Metro, blue lines are the tram and brown/maroon lines would be buses. Numbers in circles show route termini; numbers in squares allow you to follow a route from point to point.

The area shown here is actually easily walkable without the use of public transport, unless you’re in a hurry, I guess!

(Source: benbna/Flickr)

Historical Map: Integrated Transit Map of Milan, 1982

Submitted by Kyril Negoda at Mapping Twin Cities.


Milan boasts an comprehensive transportation system, consisting of a Metro, trams and buses. This map shows the ATM system in 1982, when the Metro was only 18 years old and consisted of just two lines. Not shown are the suburban rail services, which are operated by a separate company, although stations with transfers to it and mainline trains are indicated.

The first thing that really jumps out are the rings of tram and bus routes that go around the ancient core of the city, rather than through it — narrow, winding medieval streets preclude much transit from entering that part of the city. It certainly creates a strong visual look for the map, cleverly underpinned by also showing the main parks of the city, giving a strong sense of scale and geography to this otherwise very stylised map.

Have we been there? Yes, but I mainly walked the compact historical core without need for transportation.

What we like: Visually pleasing and oh-so-Italian in its design sensibilities. Takes a lot of information and displays it effectively and with some considerable style. 

What we don’t like: Differentiating stop/station ticks from the actual routes themselves can be tricky in some of the denser areas of the system. The black lines for intermodal stations can similarly be a little difficult to decipher, especially when they cross many route lines or are close together.

Our rating: A fine example of early 1980s transit map design. It still blows my mind that complex network maps like this were designed and executed without the aid of computers. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

(Source: Stagniweb - Italian Railways site — view map large here!)

See also: other Transit Maps posts about Milan.

Detail of a Province of Milan Transit Map, Italy

Looks like a visually interesting and abstract map, but I haven’t been able to track down a full version on the Internet. Looks like it might show bus service (green and thin black lines) and regional rail (thick grey line at the bottom of the picture). Does anyone know where I can find the whole map?

(Source: mikek/Flickr)

Using the Floor Map as a Guide

We’ve feautured a transit map on the ceiling of a train before, so why not one on the floor as well?

This map shows the suburban and regional train network surrounding Milan in Italy: Milan’s Metro system can be seen in between our two touristy friends. Reading the departures board in the background, I’d hazard a guess that this map is at the Garibaldi FS station. Awkward to use when the station is really busy, though…

(Source: hannahsmith66/Flickr)

Subterranean Veins of Europe

Here’s an interesting “map” of Europe’s subway systems that was originally featured in a weekly cultural supplement to Milan’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper. The map looks fantastic, and allows all sorts of comparisons between the underground rail systems of Europe, from cost of tickets (cleverly shown as a blue ring of differing thicknesses: the thicker the ring, the more expensive a ticket is), users per day, total length of each system and even a simple chronological ordering of each line opening for the larger systems. I especially like the length comparisons to other long things in Europe at the bottom right.

The English translations are somewhat imperfect (I’m presuming it read a lot better in the original Italian), but everything is pretty understandable, as a good infographic should be!

However, there is one major flaw with this graphic: the large circles around each city are labelled as “radius”, which leads me to expect that the circle shows the relative geographic size of each system. However, it actually uses the entire system length as the radius, which is almost entirely pointless and greatly exaggerates the relative size of the systems. For example, London’s “radius” is shown as a massive 402km (250 miles), when the actual maximum geographical radius is closer to 30km (18.5 miles). Paris’ incredibly dense Metro network (almost all contained within the Boulevard Périphérique) suddenly becomes a huge circle that gives little idea of the system’s tight spacing. It’s a strange design decision that distorts the data underlying the graphic badly, in my opinion.


Linea 1

Nice shot of an in-car strip map from Milan.

(Source: roboppy/Flickr)

  1. Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  2. Aperture: f/4.5
  3. Exposure: 1/30th
  4. Focal Length: 54mm

Official Map: Milan Metro and Suburban Rail Service

Milan’s Metropolitana subway system is Italy’s largest, and is supported by a comprehensive network of suburban and regional trains. It’s also linked by an amazing tram system, but no indication of those services, or connections to it, are presented on this map.

Have we been there? Yes, although I didn’t use the Metro, preferring to walk around Milan’s dense historic core.

What we like: Use of blue for the thinner suburban rail lines gives them their own distinct look while still being subordinate to the more important Metro lines. Comprehensive set of informational icons, although this does lead to some “icon overload” at Centrale and Cadorna stations. Important information is in Italian and English. Good accessibility information.

What we don’t like: A total absence of curved corners on routes gives a very severe, almost formal look to the map, as does the all-caps typeface used (which, despite being a bespoke typeface created for this map, ends up looking very similar to Franklin or News Gothic). The tinted colours behind the terminus station names, while effective at differentiating those stations from normal stations, looks a little old-fashioned.

Our rating: While this map looks quite sterile, it presents information quite clearly. I also feel that this look is totally intentional, as the streets of Milan’s historic medieval core are twisty and narrow. The contrast between those streets and the more direct routing of the modern subway is effectively highlighted in this map. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

(Source: Official ATM website)