48 Hours In: Milan

Italy's fashion capital is also home to a network of canals perfected by Leonardo da Vinci, says Aoife O'Riordain

Travel essentials

Why go now?

Milan may be called the office of Italy thanks to its status as the country's financial hub, but it's also the style capital. Today, The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 opens at the V&A in London (020 7420 9736; vam.ac.uk; £12), chronicling Italy's contribution to fashion since the end of the Second World War and how Milan's fashion press, advertising industry and clothing factories put it at the heart of the rag trade.

From Tuesday to 13 April, Milan will also host the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (cosmit.it) at the Milan Fairground (1), one of the world's top furniture design fairs (open to the public 12/13 April, entry for two is €44).

The Independent Travel Offers: Our favourite Milan holiday

Touch down

Most routes from Britain serve Milan's Malpensa airport, awkwardly located 30 miles north-west of the city centre. British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com), BMI Regional (0844 417 2600; bmiregional.com), easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyJet.com), Flybe (0871 700 2000; flybe.com) and Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) fly from a range of airports. The Malpensa Express (www.malpensaexpress.it) connects to Cadorna station (2) every half-hour, taking 52 minutes for a fare of €11. There's also a train serving Milano Centrale (3) every hour that costs €10 and takes about an hour. A taxi costs around €90.

Linate airport is just six miles east of the centre, but has flights only from London: Alitalia (0871 424 1424; alitalia.com) from Heathrow and London City, BA from Heathrow and easyJet from Gatwick.

Bus 73 (atm.it) runs every 10 minutes from 5.30am-12.30am to Piazza San Babila (4) for €1.50 one way. Taxis cost about €35.

Get your bearings

Milan's focal point is its imposing Duomo (5), a marble, Neo-Gothic confection with 135 spires, more than 3,000 statues and capped by a gold-plated statue of La Madonnina. North-east is the city's famed shopping area, around the via Montenapoleone (6), then the picturesque Brera district with its cafés, boutiques and cobbled streets and, beyond that, the main Milano Centrale station (3) – an enormous structure in Assyrian-Milanese style finished in 1931.

To the west, is the monumental Castello Sforzesco, also the location for the main Tourist Office (7) at Piazza Castello 1 (00 39 02 774 04343; www.visitamilano.it). Open daily 9am-6pm, closing at 5pm on Sunday.

To the south, is the edgier Porta Ticinese and the up-and-coming Navigli district, a network of canals perfected by da Vinci.

Milan is well served by public transport, including a metro line (atm.it) for longer hops. An €8.25 card gives 48 hours' unlimited travel on the transport network.

Check in

In Milan, the hotels also come with designer labels. The Maison Moschino (8) at viale Monte Grappa 12 (00 39 02 29 00 98 58; maisonmoschino.com) has décor as whimsical as its ready-to-wear label. Doubles start at €166, room only.

The small but stylish TownHouse 31 (9) at via Carlo Goldoni 31 (00 39 02 70156; townhouse.it) has doubles from €89, room only.

The Grand Hotel et de Milan (10), via Mazoni 29 (00 39 02 723141; grandhoteletdemilan.it) is one of the smartest places to stay. It has been owned by the Bertazzoni family for three generations, and Milan's chicest shops are a mere Sergio Rossi-heeled totter away. Doubles from €400, room only.

Day one

Take a view

The Duomo (5) at Piazza del Duomo (00 39 02 720 22 656; duomomilano.it) still offers one of the best panoramas of the city. If the weather is exceptionally clear, you will even get glimpses of the snow-dusted Alps in the distance. You can climb the 166 steps for €7 or take the lift for €12.

Take a hike

Start at the Piazza della Scala (11), an elegant square surrounded by grand buildings such as the Gallerie d'Italia. Cross it and pass under the arches of one of Europe's most impressive shopping arcades, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (12), designed by Mengnoni in 1877.

From here, you will emerge onto the Piazza del Duomo, anchored by the Duomo (5) and the majestic Palazzo Reale (13). Bear right along the Loggia dei Mercanti (14), then continue along the via dei Mercanti to Piazza Cordusio (15). Continue along the shop-lined via Dante, where the imposing Castello Sforzesco (7) (00 39 02 884 63700; www.milanocastello.it) looms straight ahead. Built in the 15th century, it is now a cultural complex with several noteworthy museums including the Museum of Decorative Arts.

Lunch on the run

Pescheria da Claudio (16) at via Cusani 1 (00 39 02 80 56 857; pescheriadaclaudio.it), is a fish shop-cum-café on the ground floor with a more formal restaurant above. Stay downstairs and order your food from the till, then wait for it to be assembled. Add a glass of prosecco and eat standing at one of the high tables for €15.

Arcade higher: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Arcade higher: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Window shopping

Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana et al are synonymous with la moda Italiana. You'll find them all jostling for attention in the Quadrilatero d'Oro – a rectangle of streets centred on the via Montenapoleone (6).

Carla Sozzani's fashion store-cum-café-cum gallery, 10 Corso Como (17) (00 39 02 654 831; 10corsocomo.com) has become a destination in its own right: fashion insiders make a beeline for its outlet store (18) nearby at via Tazzoli 3 (00 39 02 290 15130).

Don't miss Peck (19) at via Spadari 9 (00 39 02 80 23 161; www.peck.it), one of the best food shops in Italy.

An aperitif

The early evening tradition of aperitivo is sacred in Milan. Right in the middle of via Montenapoleone (6) at No 8 is Cova (00 39 02 760 005 78; pasticceriacova.it), a Milanese institution. Stand at the bar with an Aperol spritz while barmen ply you with tasty morsels to go with it (€7).

Dining with the locals

One of Milan's oldest restaurants, Antica Trattoria della Pesa (20) at viale Pasubio 10 (00 39 02 65 55 741; bit.ly/AnTratt), is a bastion of traditional Milanese fare (and a favourite of Giorgio Armani). It's pleasingly old school, with dangling enamel lights, terrazzo floors and wood-panelled walls. Classics include cotoletta alla Milanese (veal cutlet) and ossobuco with saffron risotto (around €40, without wine). Closed Sundays.

The unassuming Da Giacomo (21) at via Pasquale Sottocorno 6 (00 39 02 760 233 13; giacomomilano.com) is popular with the design crowd, who come for the atmosphere and fish-focused menu (about €40).

Day two

Sunday morning: go to church

Book tickets well in advance to spend 15 minutes marvelling at one of Italy's great treasures, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie (22) in the Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie (00 39 2 928 00 360; www.cenacolovinciano.net; 8.15am-7pm except Monday; €8).

Out to brunch

One of the city's most historic pastry shops is Pasticceria Marchesi (23) at via Santa Maria alla Porta 11a (00 39 02 876 730; pasticceriamarchesi.it; 8.30am-1pm on Sundays). Stand at the bar with the regulars and order one of the divine croissants or brioches they have made since 1824 (about €3).

Park life: the Arco della Pace in Parco Sempione Park life: the Arco della Pace in Parco Sempione A walk in the park

Parco Sempione (24) is a verdant expanse dotted with landmarks such as the Arco della Pace and the Triennale (triennale.it) .

Take a ride

A network of trams criss-crosses the city and several traditional, rattling cars from the 1920s are still a common sight. Single tickets cost €1.50 for 90 minutes. Milan's bike sharing scheme bikeMi (www.bikemi.com) has stations all over the city; €2.50 to register for the day, first 30 minutes free.

Cultural afternoon

The Pinacoteca di Brera (25) at via Brera 28 (00 39 02 722 631; www.brera.benicult urali.it) houses an important collection of works by Bellini, Carpaccio, Veronese and Tintoretto in the Palazzo Brera (open 8.30am-7.15pm daily except Monday, €6).

The Case Museo di Milano (casemuseomilano.it) offers a glimpse of some of Milan's grandest private palazzi, such as the Villa Necchi Campiglio (26) at via Mozart 14 (00 39 02 763 40121), a fabulous 1930s villa that has survived intact. Guided tours Wednesday-Sunday, 10am to 6pm; €9.

Icing on the cake

To the south are the Navigli, a network of canals that's home to bohemian cafés, galleries and an antiques market on the last Sunday of every month.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment