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Milan, Italy: Your Essential Weekend Itinerary

When touring the beautiful streets of Milan, there are a few things to keep in mind: always say yes when offered more food, an extra glass of wine, or a traditional hug and double kiss greeting. Indeed, what they say about Italian hospitality is true, and in this bustling city in Italy’s Lombardy region, the reputation is just as instilled. A metropolis of acclaimed art and culture, this tourist destination is a combination of religious, historic, and artistic charm. From touring the recognized Milan Cathedral to viewing “The Last Supper” painting in the Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, the city is guaranteed to provide both stunning architecture and cuisine to travellers. While there is so much to explore in this lively destination, listed below are only a few suggestions on how to spend a weekend in Milan, Italy:

Participate in the Tradition of the Aperitivo

Similar to the American happy hour, the routine of an aperitivo is quite an institution in Milan. Served as a pre-meal drink in a country of full-time drinkers, an aperitivo is practiced all across Italy, generally between 7:00 and 9:00 pm. While there are endless restaurants in Milan to experience the art of the aperitivo, perhaps the most qualified would be Bar Basso. This is the bar where a bartender accidentally added sparkling wine to a Negroni instead of gin, inventing the Negroni Sbagliato. In addition to this unique drink, Bar Basso also offers a large variety of wines and cocktails while also providing light finger food to snack at. Set in a dimly lit venue along Via Plinio, the location also allows visitors to experience a customary squat toilet.

Rent a Bike Along the Canals

Venice isn’t the only place in Italy with spectacular canals. In Milan, where the architecture is almost as divine as it’s cuisine, beautiful scenic routes can be found along various canals throughout the city. The Navigli is the main and interconnected canal system around Milan, consisting of five routes: the Naviglio Grande, Naviglio Pavese, Naviglio Martesana, Naviglio di Paderno and the Naviglio di Bereguardo. While all of them can be toured by walking, perhaps another - and more entertaining - alternative would be to rent a bike. With numerous bike-sharing systems such as BikeMi and Mobike now available, breaking from the tourist-filled crowds and exploring the city by pedal is a fantastic substitute. Whether this is completed by discovering Milan’s countryside by biking the Naviglio Martesana or by waving to locals along the Naviglio Grande, it is guaranteed to be quite an experience.

Go Window Shopping in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

When visiting the world’s fashion capital, it’s merely blasphemous to neglect exploring its trendy shopping scene. Despite this, at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, it is probably better for your wallet to window shop rather than actually spend money. Decorated with high-end luxury stores such as Prada and Versace, this Italian monument is constructed in a dome just as beautiful as the various designer shops. It is coined by the Milanese as the ‘salon of Milan’, but it doesn't only operate as a shopping mall. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is also famous for its restaurants and cafes, where people can gather with a view of the landmark.

Experience Local Cuisine at Ristorante Da Oscar

Considered as one of the best pasta restaurants in Milan, Ristorante Da Oscar is a small eatery with a delicious, finger-licking menu. A trademark of Italian cuisine, the chef provides guests with exceptional homestyle meals ranging from large bowls of penne to massive amounts of spaghetti carbonara. Although, while it's famous for its pasta, there is also a wide selection of antipasti and signature salads. Since the reputation of this restaurant is grand - and the location of it is small - be prepared to wait in line to sit down, though when you do, it’s guaranteed to be worth it.

In a city with endless options for shopping and dining, the above suggestions barely scratch the surface of must-see attractions in the city. Like most other destinations in Italy, Milan’s beauty is based on its history and natural landscape; something that one cannot find anywhere else. An explosion of art and culture, travellers can choose their preferred level of activity from touring decadent churches to visiting the Teatro Alla Scala opera house. So if you’re in the mood for otherworldly sights and experiences, grab your luggage - and your appetite - and head to Milan.

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