Landing in the Fashion Capital of the World is a luxurious rush. If you’re like most travelers, (including me), a first visit starts at Milan’s gasp-inspiring Duomo–a white marble Gothic wonder–the second largest church in the world. It’s worth it to take the elevator or steps to the rooftop where you’re surrounded by spires and statues.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (the world’s oldest mall) will inevitably draw you in, and you can have a peek inside the first Prada store (founded in 1913).
For a caffe, head to nearby Cafe Trussardi (Piazza della Scala 5), which will take you past yet another world reknowned spot: Teatro alla Scala. If you have your heart set on seeing an opera, concert or ballet there, reserve well in advance, or you can try your luck getting Gallery Tickets–140 are available on the days of performances.
Another favorite place nearby for a snack is Luini (Via Santa Radegonda 16–steps away from the Galleria), where the counter is always crowded with locals getting their panzerotti–a delicious Pugliese fried turnover, stuffed with your choice of scrumptious fillings.
Just a few blocks away is the Quadrilatero della Moda (aka Golden Quadrangle)–the high fashion heart of Milan. Window shopping here–along the cobblestoned streets, centering around Via Montenapoleone, is divine–surrounded by such designer shops as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and Valentino. If you’re up for a fancy lunch, go for sushi at the Armani’s Nobu (Via Pisoni 1, 02 6231 2645). Or if you’re looking for something more casual, head to Latteria di San Marco (Via San Marco 24, Brera) for Milanese classics (such as risotto)–get there early, as there are only 8 tables and it fills up!
There are loads of great places for sunset apertivo. A fave of mine is the Obika mozzarella bar, on the top floor or Rinascente department store (Via S Radegonda 1, Piazza Duomo), where you can sit on the terrace sipping prosecco and be eye to eye with the roof of the Duomo…
For a sensational dinner, make reservations at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Cracco (Via Victor Hugo 4, 02 876 714, closed Sunday)–Chef Cracco (in the photo) is a superstar of culinary invention and the restaurant is part of Milan’s marvelous Peck Food emporium. Alternatively, you may want to stock up on goodies at Peck and have a delicious picnic back in your hotel room.
I’ve loved staying at Antica Locanda dei Mercanti, a gorgeously designed cozy hotel (rooms with terraces), located a 5 minute walk away from the Duomo, in the Brera district.
AND check out the Malpensa Express, for a convenient, low cost (7 to 11 euros) ride to and from the airport…