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Milan: serious shopping and stylish sightseeing


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Famous for being one of the fashion capitals of the world, Milan has both style and substance with some of the most luxurious shopping, galleries and stunning architecture in all of Italy. There are important historical sites at every corner. Even the most discerning of travellers can't fail to be amazed by what Milan has to offer.

In the heart of the city you'll find Milan's cathedral, Il Duomo. One of the largest in the world, the unusual gothic architecture and sheer magnitude of the building are incredibly impressive. Adorned with spires, turrets and statues from top to bottom, the best way to get up close and personal with the Duomo is by going up onto the roof. For a small fee, you can wander along the very top of the cathedral, enjoying a breath-taking panoramic view of Milan as well as getting a better look at the famous gold statue of the Virgin Mary which sits in pride of place on the roof. The pathways and stairs are small, so it's best to try and steer clear of the Duomo during peak times to avoid all the other tourists. It's well worth the queue to get in though for the spectacular view of Milan that you won't get anywhere else. On a clear day you can even see the Alps in the distance.

It's not for nothing that Milan is dubbed one of the most fashionable places to be though. Italians take great pride in their appearance, and nowhere more so than in Milan, where most of the locals look as if they have just stepped off a catwalk. Just a stone’s throw away from the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a haute-couture shopping arcade but also a landmark itself. The glass topped arcades meet in a central Octagonal shaped gallery, which is in turn topped by a large glass dome. An impressive mosaic of a bull issupposed to bring you good luck if you stand on its private parts and turn around three times. Whether this works or not, there is noticeable damage to the floor where countless tourists and locals alike have tried to improve their fortunes. As if the arcade itself wasn't impressive enough, the boutiques read like a who's who of the most elegant brands in the fashion world with Prada, LouisVuitton and Gucci all offering their own unique brand of chic to well-heeled passersby.

Whether clothes or cathedrals are your thing, you can't leave Milan without seeing The Last Supper (or Il Cenacolo as it's known in Italy). One of the most famous pieces of art of all time, Da Vinci's masterpiece is truly magnificent to behold. You just have to find it first. A little way out of the main city centre, it’s not terribly well sign-posted - so make sure you know where you’re going beforehand. Having undergone extensive restoration in the 90's, The Last Supper shows the moment when Jesus announced that one of his Disciples would betray him. Each of the men's faces is full of expression, and guides are on hand to talk you through the finer details of the fresco and are quick to dispel any DaVinci Code style conspiracy theories.

Whether you go to Milan for some serious retail therapy or to discover years of Italian architectural achievement, it doesn't disappoint. You could wander aimlessly around the streets and find a million things that catch your eye, or spend a few days packing in all the cultural sights before relaxing with a gelato. Either way, Milan caters for those looking for brains, beauty, and an awful lot more.

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