A big, bold city brimming with designers, fashionistas, artists, media folk and students, Milan is the driving engine of Italy's economy and has an energy all its own. This spills out in the form of frequent, colourful street markets, festivals and processions, its Fashion and Design Weeks (the main ones around Feb/March, mid April, and late September), and a sparkling choice of evening entertainments - particularly in the lively Brera and Navigli areas. There's also an abundance of culture, from the ancient history of the Castello Sforzesco and its museums, through the paintings of Titian, Caravaggio and da Vinci, to the world-famous opera house of La Scala.
Don't miss its architectural crowning glory - the fabulous Duomo - which, with its 'frenzy of flying buttresses', 135 spires and astonishing 3,200 statues, is one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals in the world. It looks out over an impressively large piazza (the stage for many a public event), and rubs shoulders with the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele where designer boutiques and restaurants shelter under the vaulted glass roof and cupola of a C19th palace. Close by you'll also find the Quadrilatero D'Oro, the aptly-named Quadrangle of Gold, where the designer emporiums of Armani, Versaci, Gucci will charge you a king's ransom for their latest couture.
Milan also has lots of lovely, verdant parks - the prettiest and biggest being the lake-filled Parco Sempione behind the Castello Sforzesco. And this is a city which is super-easy to explore, thanks to an efficient, clean and reliable public transport system of metro, buses and trams. Grab a cheap 1-2 day travel pass or register to use its public bicycles.