Along with DaVinci’s Last Supper, fashion is one of Milan’s biggest draws. The city is home to some of the biggest designers, like Armani, so it should be no surprise that the fashion world descends upon Milan for a twice-annual Fashion Week. It’s here that Italians get their reputation for being some of the best-dressed people on the planet and walking down the street is often like being seated on a catwalk.
Milan is a fashion powerhouse of the big name designers all conveniently located in the Quadrilatero d'Oro, or “rectangle of gold.” You can easily don your best stilettos and still feel your feet after a few hours of shopping. Here you’ll find Italian brands like Fendi, Armani, Prada and Valentino.
If the big brands have price tags a little too high for your budget, you can easily spend a few hours burning off the calories from that morning cappuccino and brioche alla marmalado (like a French croissant filled with delicious jam) while window shopping. Or learn more about the history of Italian fashion and today’s latest trends on a Milan fashion walking tour at Quadrilatero della Moda, one of the best shopping districts in the world. Made up of four streets (Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Corso Venezia and Via Alessandro Manzoni), this is where you’ll find the top designers and the world’s most expensive retail space per square foot.
A visit to the one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, the glass-domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, is not to be missed. Opened in 1867, this elegant shopping arcade located near the Duomo is sometimes referred to at Milan's drawing room since everyone in the city comes here to shop and drink coffee. Here you’ll find four stories of prestigious labels, as well as the original Prada store, famous cafes and Italy’s largest mega-store: Feltrinelli Records.
Locals will tell you that only tourists can be found shopping at Prada’s flagship store in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This is because locals know where to find last month’s designer duds at bargain basement prices: the outlets. Travelers who go should be prepared to battle with Italians, who scoring that designer piece at 70 percent off just like a game. Fidenza Village is a good option, with hundreds of stores full of items at huge discounts. It also has twice-daily shuttle service from Milan.
Keep in mind that while shopping in Italy, retail hours are from 9:30am to 12:30pm and from 3:30 to 7:30pm Tuesday through Saturday. Mondays are half days, with shops opening from 3:30 to 7:30pm. Most shops are closed on Sundays.