(Milan, Lombardy, Italy)
In the world of fashion shopping, Milan has become something of an icon, with a huge concentration of designer boutiques residing within the area known as the 'Golden Quad'. This busy district comprises the elegant shopping streets of Via Bagutta, Via Monte Napoleone, Via Sant'Andrea and Via della Spiga, where designer labels include the likes of Emporio Armani and Gucci.
The Golden Quad is known locally in Milan as the 'Quadrilatero d'Oro' and is also home to a number of famous jewellers, such as Cartier, Semoneta and Tiffany & Co. Various shopping centres are also based within this part of the city, including both the Galleria di Corso and the Galleria Passarella. Fashion lovers will be able to check out the latest designs at the catwalk shows staged each year in February and March, as well as September and October, which take place at the Fiera di Milano.
The city of Milan is highly regarded for its cutting-edge design and craftsmanship, and those who fancy seeing some genuine craftsmen at work may like to take a stroll around the Piazza Santa Spirito and the alleyways of the Oltrarno area - next to the southerly riverbanks.
Milan shops are generally open from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 15:30 or 16:00 to as late as 19:30 or 20:00, although many of the bigger shops are open all day. On Saturday, most close earlier at around 17:30, while a limited number now open on Sundays. Also worth noting, many shops in Milan do not open on Monday mornings and there is usually late-night shopping every week on Thursday evenings.
Milan is Italy's top source of 'alta moda' (high fashion) and it is only to be expected that there are many famous designer fashion and clothing outlets in the city. Leading national and international fashion designers all have stores within the area between Via Alessandro Manzoni and the Via Umberto Visconti di Modrone, with famous names including Laura Biagiotti, Krizia, MaxMara, Missoni, Prada, Trussardi, Valentino and Versace, to name but a few. There are also many other smaller shops and stores in central Milan, where there are plenty of stylish outfits and fashion accessories to be found.
As with most large Italian cities and towns, there are not actually many department stores in Milan. La Rinascente is probably the most prestigious of the city's department stores and has eight floors, with everything from clothing and perfumes, to toys and food. It is located in central Milan, directly opposite the Duomo and is open seven days a week, staying open until 22:00.
Other large stores in this city of high-fashion and design include the Coin on the Piazza Cinque Giorante - with quality products at reasonable prices, Upim in the Piazza San Babila - selling clothes and many other affordable items, and also the Centro Bonola - an enormous Co-op supermarket and department store, with many additional shops, bars and cafés nearby.
Milan's delicatessens and food shops are very well stocked with fine food and local delicacies, including hams, salami, cheeses and all kinds of gourmet food. One of the most famous food shops in the city is Peck, which has been trading for over 100 years and is highly regarded amongst the locals. In many of these shops you will also find some of the best Italian wines, ideal to enjoy with your fresh food on a picnic in one of the city's central parks, such as the Parco Sempione or the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli.
Milan's sales are held twice a year in January, just after Epiphany, and again in early July. Large discounts are offered, sometimes as much as 75 percent, but be sure to check goods thoroughly before you purchase, to make sure that they are genuine bargains. For all-year-round bargains in Milan, there are numerous outlets, such as Il Salvagente at Via Bronzetti 16, which is one of the most well-known shops.