02 Apr 2008: Milan highlights
Milan is one of the largest cities in Italy, located in the plains of Lombardy. Milan is the country's economic powerhouse but it's also a prime tourist destination, with world-class restaurants, beautiful boutique hotels, a newly resurgent music scene and stunning lake and mountain scenery on the doorstep. Milan is a sprawling metropolis, but most of its attractions are concentrated in its centre.
The first stop for all visitors is to pay their respects to the breathtaking Duomo, which is the second-largest cathedral in the entire world and contains the biggest collection of marble statues ever, including the golden Madonna on top of its spire, being the symbol of Milan. In a clear day, the view from the roof reaches as far as the Alps. From the Duomo, it’s a short walk to La Scala - built to accommodate shopping, strolling, people-watching and coffee-drinking. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II connects these two Milan's most famous landmarks: the squares of La Scala and Il Duomo. More than 120 years after its inauguration, the four-story arcade includes elegant shops selling most things from haute couture to books, as well as restaurants, cafés and bars.
Milan ranks alongside Paris and London as one of Europe's most important fashion centers. Fashion is its lifeblood - some of the world's most exclusive boutiques are in Milan; the city is also known as a leader in design, with shops selling rare and original furniture, paper and cars.
The Milan fashion shows, late February and late September for womenswear and late-June and mid January for menswear, mean a huge demand on hotel rooms, taxis and restaurants.
Traditional Milanese cooking is made up of simple, meager dishes. When you arrive in Milan, don’t miss out on the chance to try some typical food that you can find in their original version. Many cheaper options, including fast-food restaurants, can be found in the area close to the Duomo - head just off the main streets if you're looking for a quieter trattoria or pizzeria. The Brera area has several stylish restaurants as well as bars, also a good option for eating out are the Navigli and the Ticinese neighbourhoods.
Milan has the best entertainment options of all Italian cities. Opera and ballet at La Scala are of the highest standard; there are more good nightclubs and concerts than anywhere else in Italy; and Milan's restaurants, bars and theatres all add to the visitor's experience.
Milan's hotels are among the most overpriced in Italy and finding any room can be a challenge. During the fashion weeks, fairs and exhibitions when hotels inflate their already high prices, you have virtually no chance of finding a bed unless you book well in advance.
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