An arbiter of international style, Milan is Italy’s financial and industrial heart, a thoroughly modern European city with a great history not far under the surface.
This long and rich history is encapsulated in the Duomo, Milan’s grand gothic cathedral that is the city’s centre. Built on the site of the Roman basilica, it was extended and refaced numerous times throughout the middle ages, with final flourishes and iconic pinnacles added under Napoleon’s orders that were finally completed in the 20th century.
Milan’s love of more worldly pleasures and refined culture are never far away, however. Walk north off the Piazza del Duomo through the glittering Galleria Vittorio Emanuele arcade, the world’s oldest shopping mall, to partake in Milan’s great past time. As glamorous now as in 1877, with fine restaurants, elegant cafes, it houses flagship outlets of Italy’s great fashion houses – Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Prada, Valentino – all Milan natives.
Continue through to La Scala, long the leading opera and ballet theatre in the world, and the Pinacoteca di Brera, home to one of the foremost collections of Italian paintings. The nearby quadrilatero della moda is held as the most important fashion district internationally and a mecca for fashionistas, with an unmatched array of big names and boutique stores.
Modern skyscrapers, such as the iconic Pirelli Tower, glisten to the north and heading west you can see da Vinci’s Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, or partake in Milan’s other religion, football, at the grand San Siro.
Another of Milan’s great attractions, some would say more so than the rest of Italy, is the food. Hearty Lombard cuisine and sociable aperitivo are regional specialities, but fine representatives of the rest of Italy abound, as do the trendier fringes of the culinary arts. Historically industrial areas around the old canal systems have been regenerated, typified by Expo 2015, with the Navigli District a popular local hangout and a wonderful place for a balmy evening’s stroll and numerous refreshments en route.
Whatever your interests, let one of our experts design your couture trip to Milan and Italy, with private guides and bespoke tours, staying in hand picked hotels.
When to go
The best time to visit Milan is slightly off-peak in the late spring and autumn. April to May or late September to October bring beautiful, temperate days filled with colour and beauty. The summer months (June-August) are fine for those seeking high temperatures, but the city can get very busy.