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Milan

Updated: Dec 6, 2011 02:55 PM EST
The Facade of Piazza del Duomo in Milan (©Medioimages/ Photodisc/Thinkstock) The Facade of Piazza del Duomo in Milan (©Medioimages/ Photodisc/Thinkstock)
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By John Moretti,

An intoxicating mix of the latest fashion trends and world-class art and culture, Milan appeals to fashionistas, art lovers, socialites and opera buffs alike. The shop windows on Via Montenapoleone dazzle with Armani's new styles, sophisticated cocktail hours give the Milanesi an excuse to mingle and the Triennale's cutting-edge ideas challenge conventional design concepts. All this beauty and culture is undergirded by Milan's steel heart: This is Italy's commercial center, the place to coolly strike a business deal.

Things to Do

Rent a bike to experience Milan at your own leisure, taking in the Gothic white-marble Duomo, the steel-and-glass-sheathed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the redbrick Sforza Castle as you zip past businessmen and supermodels. The nearby Parco Sempione fills with locals during the afternoon siesta and is the gateway to Gio Ponti's steel Branca Tower, with bird's-eye views of the city and the Alps beyond. Art lovers can admire Leonardo's Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church and Renaissance gems in the Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery.

Shopping

Look all around you for inspiration, then enter designer heaven in the Golden Quadrilateral, just north of the Duomo, where you can walk away with the world's most coveted brands. For a budget-friendly alternative, scour the racks of Papiniano Market, which is packed with designer seconds for both men and women. Antique collectors and art lovers search for gems along the Canale Grande in the Navigli district.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Be moved by classical opera at Italy's premier opera house, Teatro alla Scala, or hear great orchestral works at the Auditorium di Milano. Art students and young locals enjoy the latest music and cocktails in the university area of Brera. For fine live jazz in quirky surroundings, head to legendary Le Scimme in the Navigli, which has its own bar-boat moored in the canal, then dance the night away with celebrities in Garibaldi's long-standing nightclubs.

Restaurants and Dining

Since the 1980s, the aperitivo (predinner drinks with snacks) has been a social affair in Milan. Centrally located bars please business types with restaurant-like buffets, while the trendy joints of the Isola quarter offer food for thought with contemporary art displays. For dinner sample hearty polenta and tender osso buco in Magenta; portion-conscious fusion food from a designer restaurant in Sempione; or good-value pizza from the eateries in Brera.

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