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A short city break in Milan...

August, 23 2019 ( Updated September, 17 2019)

Italy
Milan
Lombardy
Duomo
Shopping
Risotto

Milan: Visit an iconic city like no other

A destination where you can live out ‘la vita alla moda’ (the stylish life), the buzzing Lombardy capital of Milan is also the Italian capital for fashion and innovation, as well as a hub for national and global commerce. This forward-thinking city prides itself on high fashion, cutting-edge design and delicious fusion feasts, accompanied by jaw-dropping cultural sights and attractions.

The must-see sights of Milan


When in Milan even for a day, it’s impossible not to be drawn to the Duomo.

Built in 1386 and six centuries in the making, this magnificent Gothic cathedral is the jewel in the Milanese crown. Embodying flair and finesse, the Duomo is a visionary from the past, as well as the future. Constructed from gleaming mottled pink marble quarried from Candoglia on Lake Maggiore, and finished in a divine level of detail, with no less than 3,400 hand-crafted statues (the most on any structure on earth!) the Duomo will grab your attention. You can’t fail to look up!

Dedicated to the Nativity of St Mary and the seat for the Archbishop of Milan, this magnificent cathedral invites you to take a lift or climb up its heavily detailed roof, below the towering duomo (65.6 metres high) to admire the ornate statues, spires and surrounding city, which radiates from the square on all sides.

From there, the great Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II can be admired. Designed and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1861 and 1867, this 4-storey double arcade is Italy’s oldest shopping mall still in existence. Just as the cathedral opposite is dedicated to Catholicism, the Galleria forms a ‘cathedral’ of sorts for Milan’s top fashion houses.

From the Duomo and Galleria, the next tourist sight is just 10 minutes’ stroll away. The spectacular Castello Sforzesco stands like a proud beacon within the vast, 95-acre Parco Sempione; home itself to an aquarium, sports stadium, a Napoleonic arch and broad sun-drenched avenues.


Milan’s very own castle is a true sight to behold. Once a symbol for tyranny and foreign rule, the 1300’s castle and fortress was dominated by Visconti and Sforza rule. Since Italy’s unification, the castle established a public museum and library, thereby transforming the image of the fortress into one of civic pride and enlightenment.

After you’ve enjoyed lunch at the castle, or a picnic in the dappled shade of the park, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Santa Maria alle Grazie Basilica is an easy 11 minutes’ walk away. There, one of the top attractions in Milan awaits!

Within the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie is the iconic 15th century mural, ‘the Last Supper’. Painted between 1495-1497 by the one-and-only Leonardo di Vinci, it comes as no surprise to learn that entry tickets and tours book up fast, so it’s best to plan ahead.

As well as being home to one of world’s most famous murals and cathedrals, Milan is also home to the world-famous opera house, La Scala. The perfect place for indulging in your cultural side, the opera, ballet and concerts here are a must. The opulent 3,00 seat venue provides an all-year programme for seasoned music lovers and novices, so you can be guaranteed high-end entertainment in all seasons. Tours also take place around this grand neoclassical building, which first opened its doors back in 1778.

Shop like the Milanese


For the fashion capital of the world there is no shortage of shops to peruse and splash your hard-earned cash at. As mentioned, the most iconic shopping arcade in the world, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is also here. Home to some of the most famous Italian and international fashion designers, the flagship shops which fashionistas will be making a beeline to are Prada, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Tod’s, Armani and Borsalino. Afterwards, one of Milan’s chicest shopping quarters needs to be explored. The pedestrianised Quadrilater d’Oro (Golden Quadrilateral) is home to some of the most exclusive luxury Italian and global fashion brands. So, get ready to enjoy shopping ‘til you drop, whilst celeb spotting too!

If you prefer to window shop or are on a smaller budget, then the main Piazza Duomo is home to Milan’s main department store, ‘La Rinascente’, which offers everything from high-end high street concessions to affordable up-to-the-minute trends. More laid-back shoppers with time on their hands will enjoy dipping into the chic boutiques and art galleries which line the bohemian streets of Milan’s Brera quarter. From luxury to eclectic, Milan has it all!

Eat like the Milanese


Home to a first supper as much as the Last Supper, Milan boasts some unique city eateries for you to savour and enjoy. Buon appetito!

Home to the 2nd highest number of Michelin stars, Milanese restaurants promise a memorable, metropolitan dining experience. Drawing from mouth-watering regional recipes, Lombardy cuisine includes corn and rice-based dishes infused with saffron, fresh ingredients and a tasty dollop of Taleggio cheese. The typical trattorias and neighbourhood pizzerias combined with traditional-modern influences from the rest of Italy, France, central Europe and the world mean there are tempting restaurants to suit every taste bud, and budget.

Check out our best Milanese restaurants here!

Italian

Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia €€€€ - This smart and sophisticated restaurant is tucked away in the Bande Nere neighbourhood of town. Established in 1962, this Michelin-star restaurant continues to delight the culinary crowds. The innovative and creative dishes on the 3 tasting menus are as appetizing as its elegant à la carte menu. All served in a sumptuously stylish setting, that is something so effortlessly Italian about this place.

Trattoria Madonnina €€ - €€€ - Unapologetically old-school, this authentic Milanese trattoria is utterly comforting; from its checked table cloth informality to its traditional daily menu, which greets local diners and first timers with a selection of mouth-watering traditional dishes, including ‘Cotoletta alle Milanese’ (thin breaded veal cutlet) and another Lombardy staple, saffron risotto.

Borgo Nuovo Hotel & Restaurant €€€ - Nestled on the southern outskirts of Milan, this restaurant is worth the taxi ride to! Situated in a former hamlet and with views from its dining room across the canal and decorative spire of a neighbouring 12th century abbey, this chic restaurant marries contemporary style with fresh kitchen garden produce and fresh market ingredients; for luscious Lombardian cuisine at every turn. Try the slow cooked beef cheek with polenta, the seasonal roasted guinea fowl with truffle or if you’re feeling homely, the sumptuous pumpkin gnocchi with smoked ricotta.

Ristorante Giacomo €€€ - Another timeless Milanese gem is Ristorante Giacomo. With its classic interior (designed by the infamous architect Renzo Mongiardino) complementing the rustic Tuscan and Ligurian-style menu, savouring the ambience with a menu that boasts mouth-watering seafood and daily fresh fish from the market will provide a gastronomic treat to remember.

Nebbia €€ - This canal side restaurant in the Navigli district of town serves up a platter of tasty affordable options. It’s the ideal choice for those looking to lap up authentic Lombardian cuisine in a stylish, minimalist setting - where the delicious freshly prepared dishes can sing off the plate and do all the talking. Wash it all down with a temptingly well-crafted wine list.

Piz € - In search of a mouth-watering bite that won’t break the bank? Try Piz! This famous Milanese eatery is simplicity at its best. Select from the 3-item menu and prepare to have your taste buds lifted and satisfied. From its ‘Margherita’ option (San Marzano tomatoes, fresh Fior di Latte mozzarella and olive oil), to its ‘Delicata Bianca’ (Fior di Latte mozzarella, poppy seeds and chives) and aromatic ‘Marina’ (San Marzano tomatoes, crushed garlic and basil), you may very well want to try all three!

Trippa €€ - Popular and unpretentious, this traditional Italian Trattoria promises a warm welcome. With wholesome cuisine created by one of Milan’s best-loved chefs, Diego Rossi, this menu will delight a whole spectrum of diners, from those who favour fresh market meat dishes and vegetarians, to traditionalists in search of Milanese dishes, created with a twist.

Erba Brusca €€ - Situated in a rural setting on the outskirts of Milan, this restaurant serves Italian and European-inspired dishes in a light and airy setting, with a menu packed with seasonal produce and fresh kitchen garden ingredients. In the warmer months, diners enjoy eating outside by the garden. Staple favourites here include its namesake dish ‘Erba Brusca’ (pasta with clams, truffles and wild sorrel). All washed down with a decent wine list and of course exceptional company – this is what classic Lombardian dining is all about!

Ratanà €€€ - Fancy a refreshing take on authentic Milanese cuisine? This foodie hotspot is for you! Within its stylish, ambient setting, diners will enjoy traditional re-worked classics such as ‘Risotto alle Milanese con ossobuco’ (saffron risotto with braised veal shank). The ravishing, revamped dishes are all thanks to its imaginative head chef, who symbolises the Italian passion and flair for fine food, cooked well.

Langosteria €€€€ - Looking to lavish that special someone? The modern, laid-back appeal of this restaurant makes it a firm favourite for the Milanese crowd. Serving the city’s best Catalan-inspired fish and crustacean dishes (try the Catalan-style king crab), alongside fabulous fresh oysters and raw fish platters, seafood fans will be more than impressed!

Dongiò €€ - Those hoping to savour a taste of authentic Italian home cooking during their time in Milan, are in for a treat with this timeless trattoria. Set in the Porta Romana district, this traditional eatery serves Calabrian dishes with full gusto. Savour the magic of the ‘Spaghetti alle tamarro’ (fresh pasta with tomato sauce and riduja sausage) and the melt-in-the-mouth ‘Parmiagiana di melanzane’.

ATMosfera €€€ - Tourists in search of a unique dining experience in Milan should not miss out on the Tram Ristorante ATMosfera. This restored vintage tram restaurant allows diners to savour the city’s top scenic sights in style, whilst savouring a delicious 4-course menu! Diners can choose from either the meat, fish or vegetarian menu option and all dishes are prepared using high-quality, local ingredients. Accompanied by wine and the passing cityscape, this dining tram cart experience serves up a memorable way to see (and taste) the world-class city of Milan.

Enjoy your Milan adventure!

 

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