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Top 5 Reasons to Visit Milan: Exploring Italy’s Fashion Capital

Neha Mathur

Last updated: Apr 3, 2017

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See

A must-see attraction is Leonardo da Vinci’s "The Last Supper", housed in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

Click

From the roof of Duomo, marvel at the panoramic views far beyond the city to the snow-capped Alps

Shop

Shop for fashionable brands in the first two weeks of January, when the entire city is on a massive sale

Eat

Try a typical Milanese meal with Risotto Milanese for first course, Cottoletta Milanese for second course and a good helping for Panatone cake for dessert

Do

Spend an evening at the Navigli for the typical Milanese Happy Hour, Aperitivo

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The Fashion Capital of Italy, Milan, is a city of premium fashion shows, outdoor cafés with pretty red and white table cloths, cobbled streets with rickety trams, overwhelmingly grand architecture, young fashionable students from across the globe, and businessmen in their designer suits scurrying for a busy day. This is also the city where I spent three wonderful years as a student, living the swanky Milanese life! 

There are plenty of reasons to visit this amazing city, and a three-day trip to Milan will get you well acquainted with the Milanese way of life.. Here the top reasons to visit Milan and the top 5 things to do:

1. Aperitivo – The Happy Hour

Did you know that the Milanese invented and perfected the concept of the Aperitivo, or Happy Hour, a time when the locals get together after work or classes, and enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet of finger-foods and heavy snacks with some drinks. The Aperitivo lasts from 6 pm to 9 pm, and sometimes runs for an hour or so longer. A drink costs anywhere from 6 to 15 Euros, and comes accompanied with a well laid out buffet, and an enjoyable, glamorous atmosphere in the evening.

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Quick Tips:If the weather permits, opt for outdoor seating. It’s the best way to enjoy aperitivo. Reach early to enjoy a leisurely time and get the best of the buffet.

Best Places for Aperitivo:

Navigli District: Bars and outdoor seating on both sides of a canal makes for a lively and animated location in the evening. Try Slice or Maya for a scrumptious buffet.

Brera: A very popular zone for an evening out, buzzing with restaurants and clubs, and people enjoying the vibrant ambience. Stop at Radetzky or Gold Café for an enjoyable Aperitivo.

San Lorenzo: An evening among historic columns (Colonne di San Lorenzo) and a young energetic crowd, enjoying street music and board games. Try Colonial Fashion Café or Trattoria Toscana for a delightful time.

2. The Duomo di Milano – The Largest Cathedral in the Epicentre of the City

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Milan's Gothic Cathedral Duomo and adjacent to it, the grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
 

Most cities in Italy are built around a central church or cathedral, and expanded from there. In Milan, it is the Duomo, which lies in the heart of the city. The fifth largest cathedral in the world, the Duomo is a grand Gothic structure, in the middle of an expansive square, which accentuates its grandeur. You can also choose to climb to the top of the cathedral, for spectacular panoramic views of the vast city.

Quick Tip: While entry to the church is free, the climb to the top costs around 7 Euros (on foot) and 12 Euros (by elevator).

3. Fashionista Paradise – Explore the Fashion Capital of the World

In Milan, fashion is not just about attire, it is an attitude, un modo di vivere (a way of life), a feeling which is almost tangible in the Milanese air. Milan is home to some of the oldest and largest fashion houses in Italy and the World. You will always find the Milanese dressed to perfection, even while doing regular chores like groceries or visiting the dentist. Naturally, shopping for fashionable clothes and accessories is regular to the city, and some stupendous venues for shopping must not be missed.

Quick Tips:

- During the Milan Fashion Week for Women, thousands of tourists, fashion designers, models and stakeholders in the fashion business flock to Milan, transforming the city into an open-air fashion ramp.

-  The best time to shop in the high-end fashion streets of Milan is in the first two weeks of January, when the entire city is on a massive sale.

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Shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, at the heart of the Fashion Capital
 

 Some of the Popular Shopping Areas:

  1. Quadrilatero d'Oro (Rectangle of Gold): Milan houses some of the fanciest and oldest fashion brands in the world. In this posh maze of streets, you can find showrooms of some of the top fashion houses including Armani, Chanel, Missoni, Prada, Versace, Louis Vuitton, and many more.
  2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: One of the world’s oldest shopping malls, it is an enclosed gallery, with two glass-vaulted arcades, and a beautifully designed central glass dome.
  3. Corso Vittorio Emanuele: This is the perfect destination for shoppers looking for affordable yet fashionable brands. Right behind the Duomo, this street hosts a number of fantastic shopping options.

4. Castello Sforzesco – Admired for its Historical Significance and Architectural Beauty

A castle in the centre of the city is perhaps a feature found in many Italian cities. The Castello Sforzesco is known for its 12 mini-museums and historically significant collection of archives. For the modern day Milanese, the castle is also a great place to hang around with friends, spend time at the adjoining park, Il Parco Sampione, and admire the grandeur of the gigantic structure. During festivals, this 15th century Castello hosts several fairs and open markets, which are a delight to wander through.

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The 15th Century castle, Il Castello Sforzesco is one of the landmarks of Milan
 

Quick Tips:

Be careful in the evening, and stay in the well-lit crowded areas near the Castello.

Start your visit in the afternoon, and cover half a day at the museums and the park.  

5. The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

Honestly, not many Milanese or residents of Milan have actually seen the famous painting! This world-renowned mural depicts the scene of Jesus’s last supper, and is a significant artistic and historical treasure. The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is home to this stupendous work of art.

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Check out the original painting of The Last Supper, one of the most famous works of art in the world
 

Quick Tips:

You will have to book several days in advance for a 15-minute slot to view the painting, so plan ahead.

Visit to the Last Supper costs around 49 Euros per adult. 

Five reasons are perhaps unfair for a city like Milan, which welcomes you with its warmth and openness. So, experience the swanky way of life and go here to check out the best packages for Italy.

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