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 (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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How to catch the Giro d’Italia if you’re in Italy this year

This year's Giro d'Italia kicks off on Friday and runs until May 29th. Here's what you should know if you're interested in catching some of the race in person in Italy.

How to catch the Giro d'Italia if you're in Italy this year

The Giro d’Italia, Italy’s cycling Grand Tour and the sister competition to the French Tour de France and Spain’s Vuelta a España, runs from May 6th to May 29th this year.

With Italy’s Covid restrictions arguably the most relaxed they’ve been since the start of the pandemic, excited fans from all over the world will no doubt be gathering en masse to see as much as they can of the multi-week event.

READ ALSO: A quick guide to understanding the Giro d’Italia

But you don’t need to be a major enthusiast or a cycling expert to be interested in catching a glimpse of the world famous race up close.

Here’s what you should know if you’re considering seeing some of this year’s Giro d’Italia in person.

This year’s route

The 2022 Giro d’Italia route is broken up into 21 stages, starting in Hungary, moving to Sicily, and then heading up the mainland from Palmi in Calabria on the southern tip if Italy’s boot all the way to Verona in the northeast.

The race will kick off in Budapest on May 6th and remain in Hungary for its first three stages, with the contestants then scheduled to travel by plane to Sicily to tackle stage four, which involves a summit finish on Mount Etna.

This is followed by one more day in Sicily before the race moves on to Calabria, up into the southern Appenines, past Naples, into the central Appenines, along the Adriatic coast to the east, through Emilia Romagna’s flatlands, back west towards Genoa, up through San Remo, Cuneo, and Turin, and into the mountainous north.

The final week of the event takes the form of a series of steep Alpine climbs and descents around the north and northeast, meandering around the dolomites and even taking in some of Slovenia.

How to watch a stage in person

For those thinking they might like to try and catch a stage of the race in person: you can, and the good news is that it’s free. You just need to get up early and make your way to the track in good time.

While the road will be closed to cars well before the start of the race, anyone can make their way on foot, and bikes are generally allowed on the same stretch of road as the riders until a couple of hours before the race begins.

Because of this, spectators who are also keen cyclists often like to ride the same stretch as the pros several hours before they pass by, which allows them to scout out the road and get a sense of the best vantage points, as well as providing them with the satisfaction of knowing they’ve tackled the same route as a world class athlete.

One of most frequently imparted pieces of advice from Grand Tour regulars is that flat sections are no good, as you’ll wait for hours only for the peloton (the group of riders) to pass you by in just a few seconds.

Instead, it’s recommended to aim for mountain stretches, ideally with mountaintop finishes, where you’ll get a much better view of the riders slowly climbing uphill; or to find a track where the cyclists pass over the same stretch of road more than once (this year’s ‘Napoli to Napoli’ Stage 8 on May 14th, for example, sees the cyclists do four laps of a circuit before retracing their route into Naples).

READ ALSO: Weekend wanderlust: Exploring Bologna’s hidden countryside by bike

Grand Tour regulars recommend heading for mountainous stretches to get the best views of the race.
Grand Tour regulars recommend heading for mountainous stretches to get the best views of the race. Photo: Luk Benies/AFP

Another tip is to go for a stage of the race that’s devoted to individual time trials, as you’ll see each cyclist go past one by one, spaced out by a few minutes each, over the course of several hours (the last stage of this year’s race, Stage 21 on May 29th in Verona, is an individual time trial).

To plan ahead, you’ll want to read summaries of each stage to get an idea of which one is best suited to your interests, and then familiarise yourself with the ‘Garibaldi‘, the Giro d’Italia’s official racebook, which has a detailed itinerary and will let you know exactly where and when each stage is scheduled to begin.

While you can (and most people do) see the Giro d’Italia for free, there’s also the option to go with a private tour company which does all the work of planning transportation and arranging your food and accommodation. These are expensive and highly likely to be already booked up for 2022, but if you have more money than time, you may want to consider this option for future years’ races.

If you don’t make it in person this year, there’s always live broadcasts and streams. While these might not be quite as atmospheric as attending in person, they have the advantage of providing viewers with a much clearer picture of the entirety of the race.

If you’re based in Italy, RaiSport will be broadcasting the event; or you can buy a subscription to streaming sites such as Eurosport or Discovery+.