The Milan Miracle

Read about the Air One summer and fall airfare sales with cheap flights and great deals to Milan, Italy from Boston and Chicago, plus get useful Milan airport and ground transportation information.

Turin has its sacred shroud and basketball has Bobby Plump, but these days the real Milan is experiencing a minor miracle of its own in the shape of the small, scrappy second Italian airline known as Air One (not to be confused with Air Force One which remains property of the U.S. government and, contrary to pernicious rumor, has not been sold off as scrap metal to pay for your tax rebate or hocked for oil and moored like some modern-day Spruce Goose in a certain free-wheeling, spendthrift Arab sheikdom).

Even more miraculously, and despite a parliament always eager to preserve national relics (witness third-time prime minister Berlusconi), it appears that the laws of physics, finance and common sense also sometimes apply in Italy. So, as ailing Alitalia is finally forced to become profitable (or at least marketable) and struggles to staunch the fiscal bleeding by cutting off ever more limbs and routes, others rush in to fill the vacuum and pick up the proverbial slack.

Rising like a phoenix--or make that its trademark heron (airone, in Italian)--out the ashes of the flagging flag carrier's former overpriced Malpensa hub, Air One has launched its first intercontinental routes to Boston and Chicago with what can only be described as not a flutter, but a bang.

It's been well over a month since we first told you about this summer's only new entrant in the transatlantic market for budget-conscious travelers (the other newcomer, Open Skies, being decidedly not so, as we'll tell you more about soon), but with a newly relaunched summer sale and bargains galore, it surely bears repeating.

A mere $800 buys you a seat on Air One's no-nonsense non-stop flights to the bustling business heart of Italy almost every day all summer and far into fall, except during August, when all the Italians are apparently coming over here. So unlike some of the extremely selective summer sales we have previously shown you (or teased you with, depending on your luck and point of view), these deals are actually easy to find, making them even better deals.

Need we remind you that even if Milan is not exactly your cup of cappucino, you have so many more options? Lookit, you've got the stunning alpine Lake District, the sizzling Italian Rivera and the extravagant Verona opera festival all within earshot, that is less than 100 miles away. Adding Venice or Florence to the mix will add only a couple of hours to your journey, plus, with no less than four airports making up the Milan Airport system, there is practically nowhere you can't get from there, da vero!

Four airports? That's probably three more than you really need, but don't worry, we'll explain...

While Malpensa (MXP) may sound a bit like Italian for "bad idea" and was considered to be just that for many years, it is now Milan's primary international airport. Located over 30 miles northwest of the city, this felt until quite recently like a day's journey in Europe, where even short distances often seem so much longer, but the Malpensa Express train or Malpensa Shuttle bus now make the trip a snap.

It was meant to replace the much more convenient and congested Linate (LIN), which lies literally a straight line down the road from Il Duomo, so close you can almost walk (that's why your suitcase has wheels, you know). But it never happened, because in true Italian fashion (just not the good Prada kind) and not unlike its top management, who was found guilty of criminal negligence in the 2001 runway disaster, Linate has been pardoned many times over, and with Alitalia now focusing their operations here, it looks set to yet again get its lease on life renewed.

Just outside Bergamo, about the same distance from Milan as Malpensa, but in the opposite direction, making a transfer doubly inconvenient, you'll find Milan's booming budget hub, the poetically named Orio al Serio (BGY). Thanks to the recent massive expansion by Ryanair, this once sleepy provincial airport is no longer just a pretty face, but a serious contender with a broken nose, spoiling for a fight. From here, a shuttle bus provides quick connection to the nearby mainline railway station and off you go!

Finally, there's tiny Parma (PMF), which is really neither convenient nor a serious contender but a distant, ham-fisted fourth at best, and a whole different ball of waxy cheese altogether, so just fuhgeddaboudit, as they say in Bensonhurst and now also in Bologna!