Say the words “Italy” and “politics” in one breath and many pundits — and voters — might sigh. After all, Italy is not often viewed as a place of political competence or credible leadership: its national government has experienced a carousel of leaders and its voters are so disenchanted that the largest party in the national Italian parliament is the Five Star Movement, a populist, anti-establishment group founded by a comedian.

However, if you want a different picture of Italian politics, look away from Rome to Milan. In recent years, this northern metropolis has quietly expanded its economic footprint at a striking pace: it accounts for a 10th of Italy’s GDP and sucks in a third of foreign direct investment and half of foreign real estate spending.

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