Have a stand-up coffee and croissant at a neighbourhood cafe ($7) as you head to the gargantuan marble Duomo (duomomilano.it; $15), where you should climb onto the rooftops for splendid views framed by Gothic turrets. Take the metro (atm-mi.it; $7 day ticket) two stops to Bianco Latte (biancolatte; $20) for lunch and Milan's best gelato before heading further north-east for a free guided tour of Hangar Bicocca (hangarbicocca.org), a brilliant exhibition space for contemporary art and design. In the evening, hit Navigli district, where canal-side warehouses have been transformed into lively eateries and artists' studios. Enjoy pizza and salad at Premiata (premiatapizzeriamilano.it; $26) before cruising wine bars and live-music clubs such as Le Scimmie (scimmie.it), known for jazz. Stay at the simple, family-run Hotel London (londonhotelmilano.com; $130) for old-fashioned but spacious and bright guest rooms.
EASY DOES IT
Skip the touristy Last Supper for Pinacoteca di Brera (brera.beniculturali.it; $15), an art collection breathtaking even by Italian standards. The trendy surrounding district is worth strolling before heading to nearby Brera fish markets for a seafood platter and prosecco at Da Claudio (pescheriadaclaudio.it; $36). Content yourself with afternoon window-shopping in the fabulously chic "Golden Quadrangle" fashion district. If you're tempted to spend, hop on a bus (atm-mi.it; $7 day ticket) to factory outlet Il Salvagente (salvagentemilano.it) for designer threads at more reasonable prices. Then enjoy the square in front of the cathedral as it catches the late afternoon sun, before a gourmet browse at deli Peck (peck.it; $40) through risottos, salads, cheese plates and glorious pastries. Lay your head down in style at Maison Moschino (maisonmoschino.com; $260), where high fashion meets an avant-garde, fairytale-inspired decor.
Sashay through the flagship stores of Ferre, Prada, Ferragamo, Moschino, Versace and Valentino before lunch at Nobu's sushi bar (noburestaurants.com; $60) in the three-storey Armani store on ultra-chic Via Montenapoleone. Then overdose on art at Museo Poldi-Pezzoli (museopoldipezzoli.it; $13), a superb personal collection that includes Bellinis, Tiepolos and Botticellis. Take a perch at Il Camparino (camparino.it; $10) for a cocktail in opulent 1860s shopping mall Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the "drawing-room of Milan", followed by an opera or ballet at adjacent La Scala (teatroallascala.org; from $160 for best seats). Finally, dine on reinvented Milanese classics at two-star Michelin restaurant Cracco (ristorantecracco.it; $202 tasting menu) before retiring to stylish Straf Hotel, where traditional palazzo architecture meets minimalist decor and recycled objects (straf.it; $320).