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Shopping trip in Milan, Italy: where to go, what to do
Milano may not appeal to the first time in Italy tourist as it is not glorious and sumptuous as Rome or Venice or does not offer breath taking views like Naples or the astonishing beauty of Toscany. However if you scratch under the surface, the city is rich in art and culture as any other Italian city and is home to some of the finest churches and palaces in Italy.
I would like to do justice of my home city which I never truly understood until now, twenty years after my move to sexy and exciting London opposite boring and grey Milano.
As I grew fond of London, I almost stopped coming to Milano but then something changed few years ago during a Christmas time in the city. Tired of the same local, shopping centre, full of the usual high street names, one of my friend took me to some amazing stores right in the centre of the city where I quickly fell in love with its elegant boutiques and shops plus everything else nearby,
Therefore I would like to share with you some shopping travel tips to one of those cities, Milano, that probably only businesses people and fashion industry guys bother to visit but tourists don’t as they are busy heading to other Italian cities (I mean, who on earth would spend their honeymoon in Milano? Read the article and think again!)
My tour is about these shops that make Milano so unique and it’s not just because of the wonderful outfits in display, it’s rather the design, the wonderful combination of elements and innovative concepts that only a genius Italian mind wrapped up in beauty can visualise and create.
Downtown Milano: The city centre
One aspect that I really like about the city is that everything is handy and easy to reach.
An efficient transport system at very reasonable price, allows you to move quickly to many different areas without wasting time.
We can start from Piazza del Duomo with its famous magnificent gothic Cathedral which is the symbol of Milano and it has been wonderfully restored so that now its pinnacles statues and spires are really splendid in their original white marble. You can take a lift and going up on the roof to enjoy the landscape of Milano and surrounding area included the Alps.
Connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala is the famous Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele with a rather spectacular glass arcade that is home to many elegant boutiques, restaurants and stores.
Take a stroll in Galleria is really worth it, as you can also observe real brisk milanesi wrapped in their elegant coats and jackets going by their day and have a flair of the city real buzz. Observing certain people walking, almost running (Milanesi are always in rush) so elegantly dressed so that every detail is carefully coordinated and matched to perfection, gives you an idea on how catwalks are interpreted by ordinary people and it usually better than what you see on stage.
First stop it’s not a boutique but a historic coffee place, Caffe’ camparino where famous Campari cocktail was born. Milano is the city that invented the the “aperitivo”. Actually it’s hard to find any better place to have a legendary aperitivo but in Milano and Camparino is the place where everything started. An aperitivo in Milano can quickly replace your dinner! Seriously you will have a plethora of finger food, mini delicious pizza and focaccia, the most creative ways to serve olives and other delicious food in.... great amount (believe me!).
Galleria is packed with beautiful and elegant stores and boutiques, just make sure not to miss Borsalino specialised in elegant man hats shop that is one of the oldest in Milano. In Borsalino you will find felt fedora timeless style, wool caps, linen caps all hand made by artisans, ensuring the highest qualities of the most finest hats you can buy in town.
The famous Golden Fashion Triangle.
Past walking Borsalino crossing the Galleria toward Piazza della Scala where the famous theatre is located, you will find yourself in rather small square defined by aristocratic palaces. The famousTeatro della Scala shaped the history of the Opera, being home to Puccini and before him Verdi, is a symbol of Milano. The theatre was commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the sober and almost humble façade is typical of the architecture of Milano: almost minimalist and simple, they don’t show off or screaming beauty but they are pure fine art and stylish. This buildings are the mirror of us, milanesi, sober people, that can be describe hectic at best and very hard workers,who are, sometime, too brisk but always warm and down to earth.
Going forward ahead and leaving Piazza Della Scala behind you, walk along Via Manzoni where the glamorous streets of Quadrilatero della moda start. Take the right end side and turn to legendary via Montenapoleone, undoubtedly the capital of the fashion world. Here it is where Milano would challenge Paris, New York and London on which dictates the latest trends, here you will find all the most important designers ’ headquarters.
Welcome to the capital of style, take a stroll to all the streets nearby and you will find yourself immersed in the fashion world at its best! Every single famous clothes designer from all over the world, not just Italian, must have a boutique here. It’s imperative for them not to miss Milano most chic address.
From Jill Sanders to Dolce e Gabbana, from Etro to Versace and Armani they are all located among Via Montenapoleone (Gucci for example) Via Manzoni (Emporio Armani), Via Santo Spirito, Via Sant’Andrea. If you need a break from your fashionista friend or feel tired and overwhelmed by the shopping spree, you can have a delicious cappuccino in one of the finest pasticceria (patissery) of the town called Pasticceria Cova in Via Montenapoleone 8. This pasticceria is dated back in 1817 and it was a place that Kings and artistocratics used to go before and after the opera. It’s a very elegant and cosy place where you can taste fresh pastries and cappuccino and have a rest from the shopaholic crowd outside.
How to get there and what to see in the area
What else to see
Tube station: Duomo
I love this square: it retains its medieval allure and it is secluded enough to be far from the traffic therefore is very cosy. In 1200 was the real administration and commercial hub of the city.
Museo Teatrale Alla Scala
A collection of Theatrical memorabilia. Costumes, musical instruments, stage ornaments and furniture. Do not miss the theatre which is a symbol of Milano.
Piazza della Scala.
Palazzo della Ragione
One of those palaces in Piazza Mercanti with rounded arches and lodge.
Other stores in the area
shoe shop Pollini : shoes and leather bags for both men and women.
Corso Vittorio Emmanuele 30
Trattoria Milanese. A tiny little restaurant in the heart of the city. Traditional plates and local cuisine.
Via Santa Marta 11. Tube: Cordusio
Zucca in Galleria: famous Milano bar.
Piazza del Duomo 21
Interior Design and modern Architecture in Milano
Milano is also the capital of the interior design too and if you are interested in this, have a look to the Museo of the design called Museo Bagatti Valsecchi Via Santo Spirito 10 an extraordinary museum located in a Renaissance palace that is home to an amazing collection of furnishing made by the finest Lombardian artisans.
The area of Quadrilatero della moda is not the only district where you can find amazing shops. In town there are plenty of them.
Let’s take Corso Como, outside the city centre, an area which has recently seen a massive refurbishment and the construction of some impressive modern buildings, here you can find some amazing stores, which offer not only finest outfits to die for, but also an unforgettable shopping experience. It is worth to mention at least a couple of them because not only you can buy some of the finest Italian fashion items but also the shop itself is out of your ordinary boutique.
Exclusive shopping experience: 10 Corso Como store
At 10 of Corso Como you can find one of the icon shop of the Milanese fashion concept called precisely 10 di Corso Como.
I am not sure how to define this place; it’s not a store but you can find one of the most important outlet of Milano where outfits and garments are at the edge of the newest trends.
it hosts one of the most important contemporary art Gallery and it’s a place where art, photography, music fashion and even cuisine, meet, in a wonderful display of pure Italian creativity that encompasses them all. In there you will find a Restaurant and even a hotel. The roof terrace stages modern art that is wonderfully in armony with a beautiful garden . Carla Sozzani, its founder, has been, till recently, the editor of Vogue Italia and opened this place in 1991 to experiment new ideas on how to take a shopping experience to a total different level. In 10 di Corso Como you not only have the chance to buy clothes and shoes but also a unique piece of art from innovative designers that have been displayed in exhibitions. It is such an extraordinary place to visit. An exquisite journey across art and fashion where you will be inspired all over you look at. When you cross the courtyard going to the Gallery, you will have time to think and to relax enjoying every single moment spent there. Take time to chat with your friend sipping a coffee at the bar or wandering around, going to the internal bookshop and take sometime to read. This is the perfect place to find your self and to dedicate sometime to your soul..
How to get there and what to see in the area
What else to see
Garibaldi tube station
Brera District: an artist hub, a very nice area where you can find a very interesting antique market with more than 70 stalls very popular among collectors and antique experts. The narrow street of Brera are particularly pleasant to stroll
Bus 61, tram 1,27
Santa Maria delle Grazie and Corso Magenta
Church Santa Maria delle Grazie.This church is famous for the painting The Last Supper. The church itself is not to be missed as it is really beautiful. Have a stroll in Corso Magenta one of the finest avenue in Milano. You will be surrounded by beautiful architecture, one of Milano most affluent district.
Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie. Tube station: Conciliazione
Restaurants and bars
All' Isola. This is more than a pizzeria. A variety of plates all authentic mediterranean and the pizzas are really very well cooked and tasted.
Corso Como 10
Exclusive Fragrances and scents from Mazzolari's shop
Returning to down town Milano there is a fragrance boutique, I would describe it, that stand out for the elegance and style of the shop but also for the exclusivity of the scents and fragrances, made of the finest ingredients. Believe me! It is truly amazing.
Mazzolari is a designer of luxury perfumes and the brand is equivalent to the English Penhaligon's. It is very well known among Milanesi finest cognoscenti, take Mazzolari Patchouli fragrance one of the finest scents made by amber, oriental spices and honey. A dark elixir that re-creates a powerful oriental, luxury scent considered the Ferrari of the the Patchouli range. The shop is truly impressive and the brand relatively unknown because It is not a global name yet and it is really exclusive and classy . Be prepared to spend money there! The shop itself is a statement of pure elegance at is best and it is one of these places in Milano I don't miss to visit whenever I am in the city.
My mini tour in Milano stops here. If you wish to know more feel free to contact me and ask for tips. I know the city inside out. Milano is a gem to be discovered and it is really very easy to visit. Milan l'e' un gran Milan as they say in the local dialect ,which means it is a great city and it is! Like London and New York , it is a lively and vibrant city, a different way to see Italy, perhaps.