Belgium, the country that has the highest rate of comic book authors per square mile. From the Adventures of Tintin by Hergé (Georges Prosper Remi) to the Smurfs by Peyo (Pierre Culliford), most of our favourite childhood comic book characters came from the small country of Belgium.
The city of Brussels has for numerous years honoured the tradition of Franco-Belgian comic books by displaying its famous characters on building facades in the city. This initiative started in the 90s when the city decided to minimise the amount of publicity billboards that hung on buildings, disfiguring the old city center. Once these billboards were taken down, they uncovered dilapidated walls and facades that needed restoring. Thus was born the first comic fresque depicting Broussaile by Frank Pé.
What started as a creative way of crossing renovation with art soon turned into an intricate parcours that tourists could follow through the city of Brussels. Other authors from Belgium soon joined the project as well as foreign authors like Hugo Pratt, Zep and Uderzo.
Compared to Rome, Milan (or, as the Italians call it, Milano) has quite a different charm, which has been brought back to splendour over the past few years. Sure, the second-largest Italian city has always been renowned for its leading role in the fashion industry and as the Bel Paese’s financial hub. Even before the 2015 edition of the World Exhibition took place here, few people had never seen a picture of the Duomo, one of the most impressive cathedrals in Europe, or heard of La Scala Theatre, possibly the Mecca of Italian opera. Still, compared to Rome’s magnificence, or to other iconic Italian cities such as Florence or Venice, Milan has mistakenly been overlooked until recent times. As a matter of fact, there is plenty to see and do all over the city at all times. Whether you come here for leisure or business, you can be sure you will never run out of inspiration!
A gateway between the North and South
Even foreigners soon come to realise how strikingly diverse Italy can get from place to place, in spite of being one of Europe’s smaller countries. Those who have travelled around Europe may find Milan more similar to Paris or Vienna rather than to Rome or Naples. What’s more, the city was dominated by Spain, Austria and France and this combined heritage is still perceivable in the local traditions, dialect, architecture and atmosphere. Other Italians regard the Milanese as down-to-earth and business-oriented, but it would be more truthful to say that the city looks and feels more ‘metropolitan’ than any other place in Italy – Rome included. This does not mean, of course, that Milan “does not feel like Italy”. Fashion, opera, and many of the most famous Italian artists and scholars have been brought to fame here. Thousands of people from all over the country and the world move to the city every year to work and study. Many delicacies such as panettone, risotto or gorgonzola cheese originate from Milan, and you can enjoy the unique aperitivo experience (a pre-dinner drink, accompanied by finger food) at its finest. Make sure not to miss the local espresso!