Country: Italy
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Peak Season: June-September
Shoulder Season: April-May, September-October
Median Temperature: 13.50 C / 56.3 F
Main Languages: Italian, English, French
Primary Modes of Transportation: Metro, tram, bus, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $170.00/day
Tourist Passes: Milano Card
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Whenever we see supermodels strut their stuff down the runway, Milan is always the city that comes to mind. Fashion trendsetting, shopping, sports, media, and a rich blend of cultural highlights – these make Milan receive at least two million tourists per year, and nearly half those figures are foreigners outside of Europe. If Rome and Florence are reminiscent of “old” Italy, Milan is definitely the polar opposite – setting its sights on commerce and leisure above anything. However, amid of urbanization, the city still does a stellar job preserving culture and historical architecture in the form of churches, museums, theatres, plazas, and walkways. The city was heavily bombed by Allied Forces in the Second World War (due to Italy’s Soviet allegiance), but remained steadfast and immediately rebuilt itself after the war, and from then on, enjoyed accelerated growth for decades to come.

Milan Fashion Week is a seasonal series of catwalk shows held annually, with Spring and Summer collections being romped in February to March, while Autumn and Winter collections showcased every September to October. Renowned international designers, including Gucci, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Prada are mainstays of the event. Milan Fashion week is considered by many to be the face of Italian fashion, as it is also pitted against New York, Paris, and London’s version of Fashion Week. Invitations are only given out to VIP’s and press correspondents. However, having no affiliation with Fashion Week, means you have to scour the local and online auctioneers or form close ties with event organizers to hitch an invitation. Tickets cost anywhere from 400 to 1,500 USD and are quite hard to find, often being auctioned by charitable institutions or given for free by PR agencies that handle the event. That’s Milan for you—everything a lady wants, it has.

Packing List

  • Credit cards and extra luggage if you plan to splurge on apparel; both regular and designer clothing is actually cheaper here than the US, so you might be enticed to purchase a dress or two
  • “In” apparel, as well as a snappy business attire for formality; bring an umbrella and sunglasses regardless of season; travelling light is not good, since you’ll do a lot of mixing and matching
  • Walking shoes/boots and a satchel for long walks—you’ll be doing a lot of that in the city; a backpack won’t hurt, but it’s better not to look kitsch on public spaces and crowded buses
  • A decent camera with plenty of memory and batteries; bring portable (and possibly fashionable) electronics—you wouldn’t want to be seen lugging around a decade-old, bulky laptop
  • Essential medication and toiletries; international brands are conveniently sold in groceries and pharmacies; mosquito repellants and deodorant are strongly advised

Things to Do

  • Seeing firsthand the Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery; contrary to popular belief, da Vinci’s famed work was painted as a 181 in × 346 in mural, and was not done on canvas
  • Visiting the Milan Cathedral, known for its record-breaking size and spire-studded gothic architecture; the six-century-old cathedral complements the vast number of Catholics in the city
  • Entering the Castello Sforzesco, serving as massive citadel against many would-be intruders of Italy; in the 19th century, it was decommissioned and now houses art galleries and museums
  • Windows shopping at the Quadrilatero d’Oro; considered as a luxury shopper’s paradise, it may be the culmination of renowned designer outlets: Armani, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, Prada, and Versace
  • Watch an actual/practice game at San Siro, home stadium of famous football clubs A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale Milano, both having brought a number a championships to Milan

DON'T

  • Get into a fashion faux passé; read magazines, browse websites on what’s trending; locals don’t care about the brand, so wearing a knock-off is perfectly fine as long as it doesn’t look “last season”
  • Board public transport without first buying a ticket, as the fines are quite high; look both ways when crossing streets, as Milanese drivers are known speedsters and corner-cutters
  • Forget to act cultured inside boutiques by: responding to greetings, courteously asking for discounts, not bringing any food/drinks, and more importantly—never touching window displays
  • Leave the city without making a number of acquaintances over dinner; get to know people who work for designers present in Fashion Week, and befriend boutique sellers to get discounts
  • Hesitate to purchase imitations or second-hand dresses at the flea markets, especially when in a financial pinch; Fiera de Sinigaglia and Viale Papiniano are some of the better known ones