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Most people know Milan as the international capital of fashion, but there’s actually a whole lot more to the city than haute couture. Step back into time and explore the works of Leonardo da Vinci, visit stunning churches or eat your way around this delicious city. While there is no shortage of things to do in Milan, the fashion is still reason enough to visit, and could occupy a day—or maybe all three.

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DAY 1 Milan highlights –  Fashion &the Duomo

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Duomo in the center of Milan -Photo by Author

Hit some of the main highlights of the city right off the bat by heading to the center of the city to see the Duomo (a.k.a. the Milan Cathedral). The buildings and shops surrounding the Duomo house some of the best shopping in Milan. This bustling part of town could and probably will fill an entire day.

Climb the 150 stairs to the roof of the cathedral for gorgeous views. There is an elevator too, but for visitors spending the rest of the day designer shopping, a few extra stairs never hurt anyone. Look out over the entire city from the top of the church and on the way down be sure to admire the beautiful gothic architecture dating back to the 1400s. Religious and architecture lovers will also want to put the Basilica Santa Maria delle Grazie and Sant’Ambrogio on their Milan to do list.

Shoppers will want to hit the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Its covered archways are home to some of the most prestigious shopping in the world. Even if fashion isn’t on the itinerary, it can still be fun to walk around and do a little window shopping or grab an espresso and people watch.

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Fashion statues of a needle wrapped in colorful thread- Photo by author

For fashion without blowing every single Euro, head to a select few areas in town. The four streets the budget conscious need to remember are Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Corso Buenos Aires, Via Torino and Corso di Porta Ticinese. These streets are home to Milanase shopping without as steep of a price tag. Visit during the months of July and January for the best sales!

Day 2 Leonardo & Art

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A Statue of Leonardo da Vinci – Photo by Author

Besides names like Armani, Prada, and Valentino, the city was once famous for another name, da Vinci. Arguably less fashionable, but undeniably talented, Leonardo da Vinci called Milan home for much of his life and many of his works are still on display in the city.

The museum of the Codex Atlanticus houses 1,119 sheets of artistic and scientific works done by da Vinci throughout his life. The sheets deal with hydraulics, astronomy, painting, and everything in between. For even more da Vinci, head to the Ambrosian Library which is a renowned art gallery containing a large collection of his works.

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A photo ofa replica of the LastSupper

Next on the tour of da Vinci’s Milan is his most well know painting of The Last Supper. The detail and his use of complex techniques to show perspective were very advanced for his time. He was so creative and talented he even painted shadows for light that comes through a real window in the room. It is such a complex and beautiful painting it’s hard to take it all in the allotted 15 minutes. Tight restrictions have been placed on the room to reduce further deterioration of the painting. The room that holds the painting is strictly climate controlled and only a limited number of visitors are allowed per day so book far in advance. Also, note that no photos or video are allowed inside.

Finish day two with a visit to the Sforza Castle, a short walk from The Last Supper painting. Admire the massive brick walls reconstructed during the 19th century from the original 14th-century building. Inside, the 7-meter (22.9 ft) thick walls are now several museums and art galleries.

Day 3 Eating & exploring the Brera District

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Italian breakfast pastries – Photo by Author

With Milan’s history and fashion out of the way, it’s time to eat. Often overshadowed by regions like Parma and Tuscany, Milan is no slouch in the culinary department. Foodies will want to wander the maze of cobblestone streets in the Brera neighborhood which is known for its cafes and eateries and is also close to the Quadrilatero d’Ora, an indoor shopping complex.

Make a stop at Parma & Co. where, not surprisingly, they specialize in Parma ham. They’ve even decorated the place with hanging pieces of Parma. Another Brera favorite is Radetzky. Known for their aperitivo, this was and still is the place to be to take part in this Italian version of happy hour (see below). Round out a tasty tour of the Brera district with a visit to Amorino Gelato, home of authentic Italian gelato.

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Italian style happy hour – Apertivo – Photo by Author

Finish a day in Milan the way Italians do, with a visit to a place for aperitivo. This is the way Italians do happy hour, with food of course. At many places after work and before dinner, restaurants and bars will have a buffet of food that is complimentary as long as a drink is ordered. Enjoy a huge selection of pizzas, crostini, pasta, meats and more. As good as the food is, aperitivo isn’t a Vegas buffet, overloading may earn you some dirty looks. Instead, enjoy some light snacks with your drinks to hold you over until the later Italian dinner.

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Tagged: Europe

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Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog

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