If you can do only one thing in Milan, be sure to see Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, housed in Santa Maria delle Grazie Church. Plan ahead — even calling a few weeks or months in advance is a good idea — as reservations are required to secure one of the 15-minute slots to see the recently restored masterpiece. Call for reservations (tel 39 02 8942 1146) between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Visiting hours are 8 a.m. through 6:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Some online agencies also sell reservations, but there’s usually an additional service charge.
Even if you’re not an opera buff, Teatro alla Scala (www.teatroallascala.org), commonly known as La Scala, can be one of the highlights of a visit to Milan. After undergoing renovations for several years, La Scala reopened with fanfare in late 2004. Part of enjoying a performance at one of the world’s great opera houses is watching how finicky the audience can become if the singers aren’t up to snuff.
If your idea of fun in Milan is to see and be seen by the beautiful people, then head over to the bar at the luxurious Bulgari Hotel (www.bulgarihotels.com), which opened last year. Tucked away on a private street in the heart of Milan’s shopping district, the hotel is a favorite among sophisticated locals, who gather to enjoy drinks in the modern bar or sip an aperitif in the relaxing garden. You may even forget that you’re in the middle of the city.
And what would a trip to Italy’s fashion capital be without a little shopping? While Milan’s Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga and Via Manzoni boast storefronts representing every notable Italian designer (including a Giorgio Armani superstore), you will pay dearly for the latest styles from these fashion houses. If you’re looking for a bargain — or at least designer duds at more-reasonable prices — take a 45-minute trip outside the city to Serravalle Scrivia (www.mcarthurglen.it), Italy’s first designer outlet mall. Dolce & Gabbana, Etro and Fratelli Rossetti all have outlets there.
Can’t wait to get out of the city? Then hop a train to one of Lombardy’s beautiful lakeside towns, some just an hour from Milan. From the town of Como on Lake Como, take a boat to lakefront villages including Bellagio and Varenna. Lake Maggiore’s Borromee Islands — Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori — are noted for their gardens and palaces. Transportation to the islands is available from the town of Stresa. For more information, visit www.provincia.como.it/turismo (Italian only) and www.borromeoturismo.it.
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November 2006 Cover
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