Milan has three airports: Linate (30 minutes from Bulgari Hotel), Milan Bergamo (45 minutes) and Malpensa (50 minutes). There are no trains from Linate, but the 73 bus will drop you at Piazza San Babila, just a 10-minute walk from the hotel. There are trains every half hour (until 11.10pm) from Malpensa to Piazzale Cadorna (also five minutes away). From Linate, your only option is the Terravision express coach, which will take you to Milano Centrale station in 60 minutes (around 10 minutes from the hotel).
The hotel is a 10-minute taxi journey from Milano Centrale station, where you can get local and regional trains to the rest of Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Be warned, express trains cost more than the regional equivalents which make more stops; see Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.icom) for details.
The hotel's right next to the cathedral, so once in Milan, simply follow signs to the centre or ‘duomo’ to find it and then leave your car to be taken care of at The Gray (valet parking is available). You probably won’t need to drive within the city; plus, Milan is well-served by public transport, with both a metro and tram system. Although, you may well want a car to visit Bergamo, one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Italy and just under an hour’s car drive away.
Worth getting out of bed for
Viewpoint It’s a good climb to the top of the Duomo – 166 steps, or there’s a lift – but worth it for the eyeful.
Arts and culture A tour of La Scala (www.teatroallascala.org) is no substitute for a performance, but diverting nonetheless. Santa Marie delle Grazie houses da Vinci’s Last Supper (open until 18h45; closed Mondays; ring +39 2 8942 1146 to book). La Pinacoteca di Brera (+39 2 722 631) is a fine-art must.
Something for nothing At aperitivo time, 18h–21h, many bars lay on free canapés. Il Cimitero Monumentale (Tuesday–Sunday till 17h15), where Giuseppe Verdi lies, is an amazing open-air museum in its own right.
Shopping Via Montenapoleone,Via della Spiga and Via Sant’Andrea house the showrooms of the major designers, including Gucci, Prada,Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Bottega Veneta. The Armani empire has its multi-concept store on Via Manzoni. For more affordable purchases (MaxMara, Bruno Magli, Pollini, H&M, Zara), head for Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The area around Porta Ticinese is good for street style (Diesel, Miss Sixty, Fornarina) as well as second-hand shops, handmade clothes and intriguing homewares. The Fiera di Senigallia market, every Saturday, sells ethnic handicrafts, records and bicycles along the Darsena dockyard. Mercato dell’Antiquariato di Brera, on the third Saturday of the month, has stalls selling books, jewellery, antiques and so on.
Marino alla Scala on Piazza della Scala (+39 2 8068 8295) is well worth popping into for a cocktail and a bite of Italian food either in the restaurant,or in the café. The minimalist decor is a suitable backdrop for the fashionable folk who frequent it. You can even take a little of its cool home with you, after a visit to the adjoining lifestyle boutique and bookstore. Chandelier on Via Broggi (+39 2 2024 0458) is a place you’ll either love or hate, with red-velvet decor, chandeliers, crucifix-covered drapes and dressed-up mannequins; the food comes second but is tasty. Open for dinner, La Libera on Via Palermo (+39 2 805 3603) calls itself a beer cellar, but the food is also very good. Claudio Sadler prepares seafood with a nouvelle approach at Sadler on Via Troilo (+39 2 5810 4451). Giulio Pane e Ojo on Via Muratori (+39 2 545 6189), is good for Roman cuisine. Nobu on Via Pisoni (+39 2 7231 8645) does Japanese-Peruvian fusion like its global siblings, in a corner of the Armani mini-mall. Chatulle on Via Piero della Francesca (+39 2 342 008) is a sparkling-white restaurant, serving imaginative Italian cuisine. Gioia 69 on Via Melchiorre Gioia (+39 2 6671 0180) is a super-trendy combination of sombre Michelin-starred restaurant and black-velvet lounge bar. Osteria dell’Operetta on Porta Ticinese (+39 2 8940 7426) serves some of the best risotto alla Milanese in the world. The food is also recommended in Antica Trattoria della Pesa on Viale Pasubio (+39 2 655 5741). 360º on Via Tortona (+39 2 835 6706) is a great brunch stop for help-yourself salads, pasta and pudding.
Marchesi, Via Santa Maria alla Porta, is legendary for its coffee and cake. An institution for breakfast and aperitivi. Taveggia on Via Visconti di Modrone, appeals for its original furnishings and great panini. Cova on Via Montenapoleone is famous for its rice pudding – stop here for post-shopping star-spotting.
At aperitivo time, the Porta Ticinese area gets packed out; a few hours here is a quintessential Milanese experience. Roialto on Via Piero della Francesca is 700 square metres of restaurant, cocktail bar and cigar bar, with a rooftop pool. Executive Lounge on Via di Tocqueville is a candlelit Indonesian-style bar with cushions and low wooden tables, open until 02h. By the entrance to Parco Sempione on Via Luigi Camoens, Just Cavalli Café is as flamboyant and sexy as one of designer Roberto Cavalli’s clinging mini-dresses, all oriental fabrics and antelope furs, open until 02h. Gioia 69 on Via Melchiorre Gioia (+39 2 6671 0180) is a chic minimalist restaurant and lounge bar with a Michelin-starred kitchen, and a lounge filled with black velvet sofas; it’s great for either dinner or a drink.