12 Hours in Milan


The Duomo di Milano
The Duomo di Milano took five centuries to complete.

, Italy’s second-largest city, is known as a shopper’s paradise, but there is plenty more to do there. There’s La Scala! The Duomo! Of course, there’s also more high-end shopping boutiques than you can count in a week. It’s one of the most fashion-forward cities in Europe, if not the world, and anyone visiting will want to make a tour of its iconic shops. Thanks to the high-speed rail lines from Trenitalia, day trips between Italian cities are increasingly common and very easy to organize—check out Rail Europe for tickets and information. If your clients are in any neighboring city and want to spend a day in Milan, here are some things they simply must experience in the city (including plenty of time for shopping!). 

Galleria vittorio emanuele II
Galleria vittorio emanuele II is a covered double arcade.

12 p.m.: Find a nice alfresco bistro for lunch—the Bar New York is a good choice, and is close to several hotels, such as the Hilton Milan. No, it’s not a deli or some kitschy pseudo-New-Yorker kind of place, but a genuine Italian luncheonette with some very tasty salads and pastas—perfect fortification for a day of walking around the city. The buffalo mozzarella is tangy and warm and very fresh, and the gnocchi Bolognese is delicious.

1 p.m.: Visit the ancient Castello Sforzesco, once the seat of the legendary Sforza family, who once ruled Milan. The castle now has numerous museums, and while it would be impossible to see everything in one hour, a quick stop to at least see the castle is a must.

2 p.m.: Continue on to the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church to see Leonardo’s legendary painting The Last Supper. (Tickets are required to see the famous painting; be sure you’ve booked them in advance for your clients.)

3 p.m.: It’s time to shop! Take a stroll down the Corso Venezia and check out such iconic stores as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood and plenty more. Reach the legendary “Triangle of Gold,” formed

A view of Milan
A view of Milan from the Duomo’s roof.

by the Via Montenapoleone, Via Andrea, Via Gesù, Via Borgospesso and Via della Spiga. This triangle has even more luxe shopping options—think Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, Cartier and Chanel. While there, Stacy Small, president of Elite Travel International, recommends stopping in at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni, a five-star hotel, and sampling the swanky bar’s juices and mocktails (or their cocktails, if so inclined).

4 p.m.: Head over to La Scala, arguably the most prestigious opera house in the world, and where Daniel Barenboim is the principal guest conductor. Tours of the theater’s workshops are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 p.m., but Small recommends contacting Jeremy Ross of J and J Services, a Milan-based tour company, to arrange a private tour.

5 p.m.: Get back to some serious shopping in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a covered double-arcade created by two glass-vaulted arcades on the northern side of the Piazza del Duomo. Not just an architectural gem, the Galleria has plenty of high-end boutiques and little restaurants for exploring. Prada? Check. Louis Vuitton? Of course! Homemade gelatos? Naturally! 

6 p.m.: Move on to the Duomo Di Milano, and prepare to be stunned. This gorgeous cathedral took five centuries to complete and is the fourth-largest church in the world. Because of the time it took to complete the church, the architectural styles vary throughout the building, and visitors can study the different and contrasting trends. Note: Ladies must keep their shoulders and backs covered when entering the cathedral—no tank

Prada is one of many high-end stores in Milan.


7 p.m.: For dinner, spend a few hours lingering over a meal at Ristorante da Berti, which has a refreshing outdoor garden for alfresco dining. The patio is almost completely enclosed by topiary, making it a lovely city escape. Good to know: Menus are not available in English, but the friendly staff can communicate perfectly well with non-Italian speakers (the patio is a modern-day Babel), and help diners choose the perfect meal.

All of the pasta is made in-house, so it’s hard to go wrong. Other Suggestions: Try the prosciutto and melon, the risotto alla Milanese or the Ossobuco.

Note: We’d be remiss not to point out that the gnocchi is so light, it’s like eating air. 

For a different dinner option, Small recommends La Cotoletteria, where they serve veal Milanese about 20 different ways, we hear. 

Barely anyone at the restaurant speaks English, Small adds, calling it a “very local spot” and a “hidden gem.”  

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