The bustling heart of Milan city centre is the enormous Gothic Duomo cathedral. Tourists, business people and Milanese locals stroll through the main square, Piazza del Duomo, flanked by the 19th-century arcaded Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall, and the 18th-century Palazzo Reale. Leading east from the Duomo is the crowded, shop-lined Corso Vittorio Emanuele and to the north is the celebrated La Scala Opera House. The area is just south of the art gallery district Brera and the designer shopping around Via Montenapoleone. Two lines on Milan’s metro system converge at Duomo station and many Milan hotels are within easy reach.
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The Brera district, renowned for its exclusive boutiques, upscale art galleries and trendy bars, lies just north of the central Duomo district. Narrow alleys invite aimless wandering. Its key attraction is the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Brera, or Brera National Art Gallery, packed with world-class art including works by Raphael and Mantegna. South-east of Brera is the Quadrilatero della Moda, where the well-heeled spend their Euros in high- end stores like Armani, Valentino and Versace in the streets around elegant Via Montenapoleone, or Montenapo as the Milanese call it.
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South-west of Duomo and the city centre are the atmospheric streets of the Navigli canal quarter, which borders the Ticinese canal district. Their late-night bars, quirky art galleries and narrow streets appeal to many holidaymakers when deciding where to stay in Milan. Crowds clock to Saturday’s Fiera di Senigallia open-air flea market and the last Sunday of every month plays host to the Naviglio Grande’s renowned antiques market. West of the quarter near Porta Genova is Tuesday and Saturday’s Viale Papiniano flea market.
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North of the Brera and Duomo district is Milan’s largest green space, Parco Sempione, also home to the majestic Milan landmark of Castello Sforzesco. Inside, the art gallery, or Pinacoteca, has paintings by the likes of Mantegna and Canaletto. Sculptures fill the Museo d’Arte Antica, including Michelangelo’s moving Rondanini Pietà. Climb the park’s 109m- high steel-tube construction, Torre Branca, for Milan city views. South-west of the park is Santa Maria delle Grazie church which houses Leonardo’s Last Supper. Milan hotels in the area are close to Cadorna Station, which has direct links to Milan’s Malpensa Airport.
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North of Duomo and east of Parco Sempione is the busy Porta Garibaldi district and bustling Central Station. One of its most famous attractions is the 10 Corso Como multilevel concept store, a design mecca packed with bookstores and boutiques. At Central Station, direct bus links to Milan Linate Airport makes it a convenient base for Milan hotels. South of the station are Milan’s pretty Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) and the Modern Art Gallery.
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