A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Destination Milan

The northern Italian city offers plenty of entertainment when the business of the day is done

Milan is a global business hub, with strengths in finance, fashion, motors and design.

Milan is a global business hub, with strengths in finance, fashion, motors and design.


In Italy, there are many great cities to do business in, but Milan is a global leader, with strengths in finance, fashion, motors and design. Its business district also hosts Italy’s stock exchange.

As the second most populated city in the country, with daily direct flights from Dublin, this northern Italian hub is not to be overlooked, as there is much to do after the business of the day has been done.

The Duomo di Milano is a must-see for anyone who wants to soak up Italian architecture. Built entirely from marble, the cathedral boasts 2,300 external statues alone, as well as a visitors’ museum, burial crypts, and stunning rooftop views. Apparently, the cathedral took more than 520 years to complete, with marble mined from nearby Candoglia. The cathedral is best seen from the outside in the late evening, just as the sun is setting.

Milan’s fashion district.
Milan’s fashion district.

After a long day taking in the wonders of the duomo, head over to the legendary Luini Milano, a street food spot that’s just across the road. A local institution, it serves piping hot, fresh panzerotti, a small, fried, folded pizza from a secret family recipe that’s been guarded since Giuseppina Luini came to Milan from Puglia in 1949.The panzerotti is fresh and made to order. 

Speaking of late-night Italian feasts, Antica Trattoria della Pesa is a traditional Italian trattoria that serves Lombardian cuisine classics such as risotto al salto.

There’s also plenty for those with a sweet tooth, the restaurant prides itself on its confectionary, with the hot zabaglione, a soft dish made from egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine a must-try.

The Last Supper

No trip to the city would be complete without a visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s most important masterpiece, The Last Supper. The painting is outstanding, not only because of the skill and dedication that da Vinci gave to it, but also because it is painted directly onto the wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. This meant that Da Vinci had to produce the painting much faster than his others, battling to capture his image before the paint dried.

The Teatro alla Scala is considered one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. The theatre seats 2,800 people, with opera season extending from December to May and if you travel during this time, a show is a must. Also, look out for the museum that displays beautiful collections of costumes from the theatre’s most iconic performances.

Milan’s Galleria Vittorio is the world’s oldest indoor shopping centre.
Milan’s Galleria Vittorio is the world’s oldest indoor shopping centre.

If you fancy some retail therapy, the Galleria Vittorio, famous for being the world’s oldest indoor shopping centre, is a true feat of Italian architectural genius. The arcade was originally constructed between 1865 and 1867 and connects Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala under a glorious glass roof. It was built to commemorate the unification of Italy and was a meeting point for Milanese high society. The arcade boasts many luxury shopping brands as well as a seven-star hotel and top-end restaurants and cafes. It is a must see for anyone who wants to soak up the rich and elegant Milanese culture.

Sforzesco Castle was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sfora, the duke of Milan and the castle was hated by locals for centuries for being a symbol of foreign domination and tyranny. However, after the unification of Italy in the late 19th century, the castle became a symbol of Milanese cultural identity. Take a guided tour of the castle’s battlements and hear the history of how Milan defended itself throughout history.


Stay at Hotel VIU Milan, which offers a rooftop pool, with 360-degree views of the city and a fully serviced spa. Rooms are elegant and stylish with designer furniture and bathrooms featuring Milan’s famous marble aesthetic. The hotel is just a 10-minute walk from the central Piazza Gae Aulenti. Double rooms start at about €200 a night. hotelviumilan.com/en

Alternatively, choose Senato Hotel Milano if looking for an authentic Italian stay. The building was constructed in the 1900s, originally as a family home for the Ranza family, before being turned into one of Milan’s hippest boutique hotel. The rooms are small but well-designed. It is located centrally next to the Teatro alla Scala and designer fashion outlets such as Prada, Armani and Gucci. Rooms are about €240 a night. senatohotelmilano.it