THE BEST OF…
Stroll through the Duomo district and its surroundings, and discover Brera, one of the most picturesque areas in Milan teeming with big-name brand boutiques and artisanal manufacturers.
Milan's historic centre is contained within a relatively small area which is now mostly closed to traffic, meaning that it's easy to explore on foot. There's no need to choose between planning a ‘cultural' itinerary or a ‘shopping' itinerary because you can combine the two and get the most out of both. In addition to being packed with several of Milan's most famous attractions, this area is home to myriad shops, including big-name fashion brands, historic ‘botteghe' and some of the city's most sought-after cafés, bars and eateries. In the space of just a few kilometers you'll find the Duomo, the Galleria, Teatro alla Scala, the Castle, the ancient Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, as well as sporadic traces of ‘Roman Milan', the first settlement and the predecessor of present-day Milan.
AROUND THE DUOMO The Duomo, per se, requires no introduction. It is the undisputed symbol of Milan and the heart of the city. In the immediate vicinity, overlooking the various sides of the large square surrounding it, you'll find several of the world's most exclusive addresses. For the ultimate one-stop shopping experience look no further than the Rinascente flagship store (under the arcades): an amazing array of fashion items under just one roof! Just a little further on, the window displays of Rocca 1794 will seduce you with their collections of several of the world's most desirable jewellery and watch brands. Piazza Duomo is also home to the largest Tiffany & Co. boutique in Europe. Spread over two floors of a historic 1870 building, it is located in front of the Arengario and the Museo del Novecento, by now a landmark attraction for tourists visiting the city.
TOWARDS TEATRO ALLA SCALA: THE GALLERIA Known as the ‘living room' of Milan, the Galleria links Piazza del Duomo to piazza della Scala. For the past 150 years, it has been a meeting place for the Milanese and their guests; this explains why the venues overlooking the Galleria are go-to destinations for those wishing to soak up the atmosphere of the city. In the Galleria, haute couture takes centre stage. In addition to Prada and Versace, other standouts include Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani, Borsalino, Luisa Spagnoli, Bric's, Tod's, Stefanel and Massimo Dutti alternated with historic workshops (whose signs serve as an indication of their storied past). You say ‘aperitivo' and you immediately think of Camparino in Galleria, a landmark location and a reference point where Milan's elite meet to partake in one of Italy's oldest social traditions! Carlo Cracco's new locale is spread over four floors and focuses on opulent aesthetic and culinary offerings, from breakfast to post-theatre dining. For those in search of a taste of tradition, located just nearby is Luini (renowned for its one-of-a-kind “panzerotti”). Conversely,
those favouring a more sought-after gourmet experience can either opt to eat at Ristorante Galleria where you enjoy a taste of Milanese food and hospitality (for generations, the Galli family has defined Milanese hospitality in the Galleria!) or at Ristorante Savini, one of Milan's most iconic landmark restaurants, or at the Marchesi alla Scala restaurant. Don't miss the Lavazza flagship store, a space where coffee lovers can sample an authentic espresso and innovative coffee-based recipes.
TOWARDS THE CASTLE By walking just a few kilometers from the Cathedral, in a north-westerly direction, you'll reach Castello Sforzesco, another of the city's most symbolic monuments. The castle was the resident of the ruling families in Milan between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Today, it hosts several museums and one of the city's best-loved green spaces. If you walk from Piazza Duomo in the direction of Cordusio, after passing Piazza Mercanti, you'll come to the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milano, a ‘glocal' phenomenon that combines Milanese specialties with a format that's loved the world over. Continuing onwards along via Dante, you'll find myriad shops and eateries designed to satisfy your every whim. For a cultural-recreational break, head to the Chiostro Nina Vinchi, at no. 2 via Rovello, where a bookstore and a new bar, offering day-long dining, provide insight into the history of the Piccolo Teatro, Milan's premiere theatre venue. The Segway Tour Milan, an alternative means of exploring the city, starts next door, at no. 1 via Rovello. Apropos tours, remember that Piazza Castello is the departure point for Zani Viaggi's City Sightseeing Tours on open-top coaches and the place from which the majority of shuttles depart for some of Italy's finest outlets. While the Duomo is Milan's best-known church on an international level, there's another religious site that's just as dear to the Milanese. The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan's second most important church, is dedicated to the patron saint of the city. This building, of enormous historic and architectural value, is well worth a visit. Built in the 4th century A.D. and, therefore, much older than the Duomo, it's located approximately one and half kilometers from the cathedral, a route that, when crossed on foot, allows you to immerse yourself in the most ancient part of Milan's history. In this area, you'll find the remains of Mediolanum, Roman Milan, including the Forum, the Circus, the walls and, in the subterranean areas of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Cardo and Decumanus. You only need to walk a few streets down from the areas surrounding the Duomo to see a change in the urban landscape: fewer shops of big-name international brands, more old-world ‘botteghe' and a few unexpected delights. If you walk from the Duomo in the direction of via Torino, you'll come to via Spadari, home to two cult addresses. At no. 9, Peck, an internationally renowned temple of gastronomy. This historic deli showcases an incredible selection of cheeses, charcuterie, prestigious wines, fresh pasta, truffles, authentic Milanese risotto and breaded cutlets, plus panettone year-round. Peck is a pleasure island for anyone who loves to taste, but also only admire or delight in the delectable aromas of high-quality food which can be sampled in various forms at its relaxed in-house café or luxury restaurant. Other places that are well worth a visit while shopping in the area include Maurilio Calzature, for high-quality shoes; Daniela De Marchi, who showcases her collection of highly original jewelry in via dei Piatti and Fortura Giocattoli in via Olmetto, a century-old toy mecca that will delight young and old alike. An absolute must-visit! In the vicinity, there are also other options for lunch or dinner: Milanese cuisine in an intimate atmosphere at Ristorante Olmetto in via Disciplini; or, if Milan is your only stopover and you're regretting not having tasted the stronger flavours of Roman cuisine, don't despair, because in via del Torchio you'll find Felice a Testaccio, a spin-off of the famous Roman restaurant. On reaching Sant'Ambrogio, after visiting the Basilica, linger a little longer and explore its surrounding areas. In the same square, at number 16, you'll find Chris Cerf, a boutique hosting the vibrant, elegant collections created by this well-known designer of Brazilian origin. Just a little further on, after admiring Giulia Colussi's artistic jewelry in Giardino Calderini, end your tour on a high note and head to via San Vittore to sample or purchase the ‘chocolate gems' created by Neuhaus Maître Chocolatier, a must-visit gourmet boutique selling original Belgian, handmade pralines – a totally unmissable treat!
Tiffany & Co. TOWARDS SANT’AMBROGIO