Milan may be the world’s fashion capital but there’s much more to this city than haute couture. Milan is home to some of Italy’s most famous architecture and art. On your next European trip, opt for a two-day layover and experience this Northern Italian gem.
Check in to the uber-luxe Bulgari Hotel Milano located on a private street just steps from Milan’s famed fashion district. You might find it hard to leave the beauty of this renovated 18th-century Milanese palazzo but the city offers a few don’t-miss historic sites. Enjoy a mid-morning cappuccino in the hotel’s expansive, manicured private garden.
Begin your exploration of Milan with a stroll through the world’s fashion capital along Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga where you’ll find the world’s most famous designer storefronts including Prada, Bulgari, Tod’s, Hermes, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.
Take a break from shopping and head to the Piazza del Duomo for a glimpse of Milan’s stately cathedral, the third largest church in all of Europe. It took more than 500 years to construct this wonder with its imposing white marble facade. The interior is magnificent and the rooftop offers 360º vistas of the entire city.
If foodies had a playground, it would be Peck, located on Via Spadari. Just like the Milanese, the food is presented in high fashion with displays that are works of art. Enjoy a light lunch in the café on the top level and be sure to visit the underground wine cellar, featuring some of the world’s most exotic, and expensive, wines.
Head back towards the Duomo and stroll through the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an upscale shopping arcade which opened in 1867. Take your eyes off the beautiful window displays and look up at the intricate glasswork on the ceiling.
Spend the afternoon exploring the museum at La Scala. This world-renowned opera house was built in 1778 and has hosted performances of Rossini, Puccini, Verdi and Toscanini.
Wind down your day at one of the many coffee bars for aperitivo. It’s the Milanese version of happy hour where you can enjoy a glass of Barolo and help yourself to an expansive spread of tapas.
If you’re looking for an authentic Northern Italian meal, dine at Trattoria Milanese. Since 1933, this iconic restaurant has been serving authentic Risotto alla Milanese and decadent Osso Buco. Evenings in Milan end with a digestivo so opt for the Sgroppino, a blend of Prosecco, limon sorbet and vodka.
On your second day, take a short ride on Milan’s historic tram to your appointment to view The Last Supper. Yes, you’ll need an appointment for this world famous Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece. Only small groups of 20 people are allowed in every 15 minutes (also be sure to request an English guide). It is recommended that you book tickets at least two months in advance.
As your whirlwind trip in Milan winds down, head back to the Bulgari Hotel via a walk through the Brera district, and enjoy an al fresco lunch at one of the neighborhood’s outdoor cafes. It’s hard to go wrong at any of the district’s fashionable eateries.
Milan is relatively compact so you can see a lot in a day. On your next trip to Northern Italy, be sure to take a day trip to Lake Como, or the lesser known but equally impressive Lago Maggiore.