Image by Milan-based illustrator Marianna Tomaselli

The Insider Guide

Milan is Italy’s fashion, design and financial powerhouse. Known for glitz, glamour and high-end shopping and gastronomy, it’s also a site of architectural beauty - part Gothic, part modern grit. Read on to discover the best the city has to offer...

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Vamos! The Main Attractions

Milan is internationally renowned for its fashion pedigree – home to Prada, Versace, Armani among others. You can delve into this fashion scene at the Fondazione Prada, an institution dedicated to contemporary art. Beyond that, the city's most interesting side is historical one. For art lovers, there’s one obvious place to start: The Last Supper, painted in the late 15th century by Leonardo da Vinci, can be found in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, a Unesco World Heritage Site that draws in visitors from around the world. There’s more to Milan than one work of art, though. The Pinacoteca di Brera has a terrific collection of paintings, and high culture of a different sort can be found at La Scala, one of the world’s great opera houses. Right in the centre of the city, you’ll find another fantastic feat of architecture and one of the unmissable emblems of Milan – the Duomo, or cathedral, and Piazza del Duomo before it. It’s worth the fee to walk up to the roof, from where you can see across the city. Back down at ground level, you're a minute's walk from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy's oldest shopping mall dating back to the 1870s, where you can stop for a pausa and an espresso. It’s a short walk from here to the imposing Castello Sforzesco, a 15th-century fortress built by the Duke of Milan that’s now home to museums and art galleries, displaying works by Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Not interested in art? It's worth the stroll through these remarkable buildings and across the drawbridge into the gardens on the other side. Come the weekend, it’s all about AC and Inter – that’s football to you and me – while high-end restaurants and trendy bars offer limitless options if you’re looking to eat good food and look good while you’re at it. The Navigli, to the west of town – a canal area built in the Middle Ages that’s undergone a recent revamp – is a younger, less ritzy and altogether cheaper place to hang out. Come early evening for the passeggiata along the towpaths, stop for an aperitivo or a bite and enjoy a completely different vibe from the old-world glamour of the city centre.