Milan is almost as famous for its cuisine as for its fashion scene, and foodies will be in paradise in this city. Milan's restaurants serve everything from traditional local fare to exotic international cuisine, though the city is known to be less keen on pasta than the rest of Italy, instead focusing more on rice-based dishes. Classic Italian dishes include the usual pastas and pizzas, as well as salumi friulani (cured meats), risottos and excellent seafood.
Many traditional Milanese restaurants and trattorias (casual Italian eateries) can be found in the Brera, Navigli and city-centre. For good pizza when eating out in Milan, travellers should try one of the restaurants on Via Palermo. Porta Venezia, Via Victor Hugo and Via Manzoni have more international options, serving Mediterranean, Asian and fusion cuisine.
While there will always be a number of Milan restaurants open to diners, it's best to call ahead for reservations if travellers are visiting one of the more popular restaurants. Some establishments add a service charge to the bill and, if not, a 10 percent gratuity is an acceptable tip. Dining out in Milan can be expensive, but it's extremely rewarding to the palette.
Shopping in Milan is an unparalleled experience. Milan is not just the epitome of fashion paradise, it is considered the fashion capital of the world. This city boasts the most prestigious boutiques and showrooms on earth. In the heart of Milan's shopping area are the streets of the Fashion Quadrilatero (Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga and Via Sant'Andrea), where elegance and luxury can be bought, though at a price.
On Via Montenapoleone shoppers will find Gucci, Versace, Valentino and Cartier, to name just a few brands. Chanel, Armani and Moschino are available on Via Sant'Andrea, while Via della Spiga is home to D&G, Prada and Bulgari. After shopping for all these name brands, visitors might like to stop on Via Manzoni at Robert de Niro's restaurant, Nobu, for a breather.
Other fantastic shopping stops include Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Vercelli, while Torino and Ticinese house some avant-garde goods and Paolo Sarpi has an eclectic chinatown feel. For more affordable purchases, travellers should visit Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Corso Buenos Aires, Via Torino and Corso di Porta Ticinese. On these streets there are shops such as H&M, Zara, Timberland and Diesel. Local markets include Fiera di Senigallia (held on Saturday mornings at Viale d'Annunzio), and Mercatone del Naviglio Grande, at the Alzaia Naviglio Grande, which takes place on the last Sunday of each month.
Milan has perhaps the most talked-about nightlife in Italy, partly because it's got a young and trendy crowd but also because of its high-profile events calendar. The fashionable nightlife in Milan radiates primarily from the Brera Gallery and Navigli areas. Centri Sociali is home to an alternative, less expensive entertainment scene. The city offers visitors a vast selection of vibrant bars, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as live music performances.
The nightlife kicks off early in Milan, by Italian standards, with Happy Hour starting at about 6pm. The evening drinking session, called the apertivito, is an important social opportunity in Milan, a chance to meet and greet and fashionably mingle. Dance venues usually only get going at about 11pm, with nightclubs closing at about 4am.
Although there are a handful of perennial favourites, clubs are likely to change names and owners fairly frequently in Milan. But it's never difficult to find nighttime fun in this glamorous city. Those who want more cultured entertainment will be spoilt by the opera and theatre scene of Milan.