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How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Milan

Exploring local art and architecture, browsing market stops and indulging in culinary delights. Even if you have just two days, you can still explore the best of Milan, Italy’s second-largest city, where centuries of history, art and culture meet the latest fashion, design and cuisine. The city’s historical center is its essence, where generations of Milanese aristocracy have lived in grand palazzos. Brera, the artist community with a bohemian atmosphere, lies within the old medieval walls while a newer zone, such as the Navigli area, is a lively neighborhood full of trendy bars and restaurants. Throughout this city of flats, villas and townhouses are enclaves of striking palazzos with hidden gardens on gracious, tree-lined streets. Below is an itinerary to make you feel at home in this truly international city, which draws visitors and residents from all points of the globe.  

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ITALY SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALITY .

Buon Giorno

Wake up in an on-trend contemporary penthouse in the fashion district. Get inspired by views of the Duomo from your lower private terrace or 360-degree views of the city from a second terrace upstairs before persuing your wardobe in the walk-in closet. Alternatively, you might choose a nearby two-story penthouse offering concierge service, 180-degree views of Viale Luigi Majno and sweeping city vistas.

Wherever you stay, a spot for “colazione all’italiana” is likely nearby. Italian breakfast start with espresso, cappuccino or latte macchiato. Pair your coffee “food group” with an Italian cornetto, usually a smaller and sweeter version of a French croissant often filled with jam, cream or chocolate. If you want to wander to a true breakfast institution, venture over to Via Montenapoleone and visit the 19th-century Cova or Marchesi (above) cafés.

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GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II, PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PCRUCIATTI/SHUTTERSTOCK INC.

Hopping on a tram and getting lost in the city is a favorite Milanese pastime, so beyond the beautiful Duomo di Milano, you’ll find some hidden and entertaining treasures in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (above), a glass arcade shopping center designed in 1861, or the romantic Orto Botanico di Brera gardens in the art-laden district of Brera, where pathways of greenery and lush flora may convince you that you’ve suddenly stepped into the countryside. 

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GIARDINO BOTANICO OF BRERA, PHOTO COURTESY OF PCRUCIATTI/ SHUTTERSTOCK INC.

Impressive new skyscrapers in the modern Porta Nuova district are changing Milan’s skyline, but the area is also home to the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli, the city’s oldest and most impressive park.

An Afternoon Stroll

Head to the young and dynamic district of Tortona for lunch, where new and innovative restaurants serving Indian and Japanese dishes are mixing it up amongst the old Milanese osteria. A plate of traditional “cotoletta” (pan-fried veal) is sure to satisfy. After your bite, you must shop. After all, Milan is an epicenter of global style. In Brera, Tortona and Naviglio, small boutiques with emerging luxury designers offer shoppers something fresh, while in the Via Montenapoleone fashion district, you can find the most famous labels within steps of each other.

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A JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN TORTONA, PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PAOLO BONA/SHUTTERSTOCK INC.

An Evening Out

To visitors, Milan may be a pizza and pasta heaven, but to real foodies, it is a Michelin-star capital. Try Cracco in Galleria, Iyo, or Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia to start. More casual but equally delightful fare can be found at luxury Indian spot Cittamani, hipster hangout Dabass, or Potafiori, where you can eat amidst bold arrangements of the seasons latest blooms.

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Post-dinner cocktails and aperitivos can be found along the Corso Garibaldi, which doubles as a fantastic pedestrian street, should you wish to walk off your meal. Or head back to Brera, where Bar Jamaica has hosted Italian artists and poets since 1911, including Gianni Dova, Roberto Crippa, and Erenesto Treccani. “Milan is full of hidden treasures, from the Giardino Botanico in Brera to the old Milanese streets close to Corso Magenta,” agree Milan real estate experts Ilaria Pinto and Nerina Masini from Italy Sotheby’s International Realty.“You should hop on a tram and get lost in the city”. Wherever you plan to shop, see, and eat the day away, your Sunday in Milan is sure to be full of serendipitous turns and surprises and wrapped in the city’s rich history.

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