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How to make the most of winter sales shopping in Milan

Cold winter days? Hit the sales in Milan. Our essential guide will help you find the best of the bargains in Italy's fashion capital.

How to make the most of winter sales shopping in Milan
A shopper outside a store advertising discounts in central Milan. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

January and February in the fashion world signify one thing: winter sales.

And Milan is Italy’s fashion capital: the city of Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré, Krizia and more. They were all working from Milan during the 1970s when Italian fashion started to gain the attention it deserved.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about sales shopping in Italy

The rest is glorious fashion history, with tales of iconic fashion moments with equally iconic supermodels, and the growth of a whole fashion industry which stretched out into the Milan hinterland.

Today, the thing you’ll notice about Milan is that you can ‘feel’ fashion in the city. It all stems from a love of beauty which dates back to the Renaissance, and is still seen in shop windows, cafés, restaurants, galleries and architecture today. 

When to go

Head to Milan in winter and it’s generally a quieter time to visit. Plus those cold sunny winter days make for great views of the Alps from the terraces of the city’s Duomo.

The winter sales period in Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy this year began on January 5th and continues until March 5th.

The shops will be busier if you go at the weekend, but it might give you the opportunity to combine a trip to Como or some of the other destinations on Lake Como which are equally beautiful in winter.

For fashion lovers, the February Milan Women’s Fashion Week (Fall Winter 2022-2023) is from Tuesday February 22nd – Monday February 28th. The main events take place behind closed doors, but you can still wander the city and soak up that fashion vibe.

READ ALSO: Six delightful day trips within easy reach of Milan

Shops open until late, and you’ll find various events and shopping experiences and outdoor fashion shows. 

Bear in mind though that hotel prices go up and hotels fill up fast, so you will need to book in advance. Check cameramoda.it (National Chamber of Italian Fashion) and Vogue Italia for shows and satellite events. 

A view towards the Italian Alps from the roof of Milan’s Duomo Cathedral. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Where to go 

Milan has its various neighbourhoods, and as far as shopping is concerned there’s plenty of choice: luxury designer brands, boutiques, vintage clothing, high street names, streetwear and so on.

The Golden Quad has wall to wall luxury fashion brands, and is also a lovely place to wander. Go from one to the other, and watch out for the Ferraris and the Lamborghinis on a Saturday afternoon.

Head to Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Torino for high street names, areas such as Corso Magenta, Sant’Ambrogio and Brera for some lovely boutiques, while Porta Ticinese is famous for streetwear and quirkiness.

Don’t miss the 19th century wrought iron shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.  

READ ALSO: Seven insider tips for shopping in Milan

Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

What to buy

Of course, this depends on what you’re looking for. The sales is the time to consider those places that you couldn’t usually stretch to. Maybe you’re thinking of an investment piece that you’ll love for years to come? A MaxMara coat? A well-cut blazer to ‘lift’ an outfit and have it immediately work/events presentable? Or out and out vintage?

And don’t just go for clothes. Well-chosen accessories can really make all the difference. Italy is famous for its leather, and there are always bargains to be had.

The fashion trends for summer 2022 tell us that ballet flats are back. For some Milanese women, they never went out of fashion. 

Where to shop

Rinascente is the classic Milanese department store and always worth a visit. The food equivalent is Peck. Antonia boutique in Brera and Biffi along Corso Genova are both well-established boutiques.

For vintage, there’s Madame Pauline and Cavalli e Nastri, while Pellini is worth a visit for bijoux.

Where to go for coffee

Both in the Golden Quad, Pasticceria Cova and Pasticceria Marchiesi offer that Milanese experience, and chances are you might find yourself rubbing up against fashion types as you do so. (Not literally, of course.) 

Where to go for aperitivo

Exclusive Bar Bulgari down a private street in the heart of the Golden Quad opens out onto what was once a monastery vegetable garden. The whole area was once famous for its convents and monasteries. Bar Martini is the collaboration between Martini and Dolce & Gabbana, and occasional setting for fashion shows. 

Getting there

Unless you have specific reasons for driving there, jump on a train. Italo and Frecciarossa generally have some kind of offer if you book in advance.

You might also want to add in an overnight stay and enjoy Milan’s aperitivo hour or go out for dinner. If you’re going for the day, schedule in lunch. Always ring in advance and book.

Rachael Martin is a British writer and has lived just north of Milan for over 20 years. Her book The Fashion Lover’s Guide to Milan is a guide to shopping, restaurants and museums all with a fashion theme, which also explores the history of fashion in Milan.

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San Lorenzo: The best stargazing spots in Italy’s cities

August 10th is San Lorenzo, Italy's annual star-gazing festival. Here's where to try and catch a shooting star if you're in a major Italian city this year.

San Lorenzo: The best stargazing spots in Italy's cities

One of the most romantic nights of the year in Italy is San Lorenzo, when shooting stars can be seen across the country.

This is because of the passing of Perseid, a meteor shower that cross the sky at this time of year and is known in Italian as lacrime di san lorenzo, or ‘San Lorenzo’s tears’. August 10th is the name-day (onomastico) of San Lorenzo.

There’s a good chance of seeing falling stars any day this week, with August 12-13th tipped as the best nights to see a meteor shower. But the 10th is when you can really join Italians in celebrating the festival, with many towns and cities putting on events.

Here are your best bets for joining in the fun and doing a little star gazing if you’re in a major Italian city this year.

Rome

Gianicolo (‘Janiculum’) Hill, which overlooks the city of Rome, is one popular viewpoint to head for; and for those who want to lay down their blanket without having to make too much of a schlep there’s Circo Massimo, an ancient Roman chariot racetrack in the middle of the city.

It’s worth noting that due to their central locations, however, neither spot will have perfect visibility.

If you want somewhere a little further out (with less light pollution) there’s Parco degli Acquedotti, a park set amongst ancient Roman aquaducts in the south-east of the city; and Parco della Caffarella.

Both parks are ungated (something of a rarity for Rome), meaning they’re open 24 hours a day.

The moon rises on Rome's ancient forum.
The moon rises on Rome’s ancient forum. Photo by VINCENZO PINTO / AFP.

Florence 

From 8.45pm (sunset is at 8.17pm), Villa Vogel, which is hosting the event ‘Sotto le stelle‘ (‘Under the Stars’) will put on a star-watching session led by the Florentine Astrological Society.

If you’re not in the mood for an organised activity, the Pian dei Giullari, not far from Piazzale Michelangelo near the centre of Florence, is recommended or those who can’t get too far out of the city.

For those who have access to a car and can head a little further afield, the stone quarries of Maiano in the Fiesole area; or further out, the hill of Monte Morello, are both good star-gazing destinations.

Florence's Palazzo Vecchio lit up at night.
Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio lit up at night. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Milan

One option for stargazing without having to leave the city is the Giardini Indro Montanelli planetarium in Porta Venezia, which organises a special evening event at 9pm for San Lorenzo on August 10th featuring guided observation of the night skies.

If you’d rather find a peaceful spot outdoors to watch for shooting stars, one option in the city is Parco di Trenno (also known as Parco Aldo Aniasi). This 50-hectare stretch of meadow and woodland sits between Milan’s San Siro stadium and the perhaps better-known park at Boscoincittà. Boscoincittà however closes at 8pm, while Parco di Trenno is ungated and remains accessible at night. 

Another ungated city park featuring meadows, woodlands and seemingly endless wide open spaces, Parco Nord is, as the name suggests, in the northern part of Milan. Like Parco di Trenno, it’s a peaceful space but it is still within the city, meaning visibility will still be affected somewhat by light pollution.

The roof of Milan's duomo cathedral illuminated for a nighttime concert.

The roof of Milan’s duomo cathedral illuminated for a nighttime concert. Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP.

Bologna

A half hour train ride away from Bologna city centre, the Planetarium of San Giovanni in Persiceto is hosting a series of events from 9.30-11.30pm on August 10th, 11th and 12th.

Entry is free and no advance booking is required; attendees are invited to lie down on the lawn to look up at the sky.

Villa Ghigi, just outside the city in the southwest, is a recommended spot for stargazing, as is Parco Cavaioni a little further out.

Closer to the city centre (with its attendant light pollution) there’s Villa Spada and the Giardini Margherita.

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