As one of the four fashion capitals of the world, it should come as no surprise that Milan also has a well-deserved reputation as the perfect place to get your Christmas shopping done. Whether your tastes lean more towards Dolce & Gabbana or Etro, there’s something in the air that makes Milan simply magical during the festive season, so both dedicated couture addicts and firm non-believers in retail therapy are certain to find something here to enchant them.
A visit to Milan wouldn’t be complete without venturing into the Quadrilatero d’Oro. Literally translating as the Square of Gold, the four streets that make up this elite corner of the city are home to the most recognisable fashion houses on the planet, with Cavalli, Missoni and Versace just some of the labels you’ll find here. If the snow is falling and you’re hoping to find more sheltered shops, head to Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II, a spectacular covered mall near the Duomo that was designed in 1861. After you’ve wandered past sparkling jewellery, priceless antiques and two Prada stores, follow in the famous footsteps of everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Grace Kelly by dining at the historic Savini Restaurant.
For something a little more traditional around Christmas time, arrange your trip to fall while the O Bej! O Bej! market is in town. Opening on the 7th December every year, this festive celebration dates back to 1510, when a delegate of the Pope arrived in town and handed out sweets and presents to all the local children. The market’s name literally translates as “Oh so nice! Oh so nice!” and it certainly stays true to that title today. Over 400 stalls spring up selling hot snacks and drinks, souvenirs, handicrafts and toys, and it’s the perfect place to pick up trinkets for stockings or even the occasional tree decoration.
If you’re more attracted by Italy’s culinary credentials than its shops and stalls, there’s another market in Milan that might prove particularly tempting. Italians take their food seriously, especially at this time of year, and nowhere is that more evidently expressed than at the biggest Christmas market in town: the Fiera. Stalls are laden with strong cheeses, cured sausage, and jewel-coloured candied fruit, with mulled wine and roasted chestnuts on offer to keep you warm as you wander. You’ll also find all the ingredients you need for a spectacular Christmas feast, should you decide to take on that challenge.
Of course, all that over-eating can leave you feeling a little jaded, so if you want to start the festive season feeling your absolute best, there are plenty of luxury spas in the city ready to help soothe your every anxiety. The Bulgari Spa provides gorgeously opulent surroundings and personal treatment rooms for complete indulgence. Afterwards, you can balance out your detox with just a little re-tox by joining in with the fabulous Italian tradition of the aperitif in the hotel’s sleek and sophisticated bar.
If Milan’s many charms convert you to the Italian way of life, contact Engel & Völkers for help finding your very own permanent residence in this extraordinary city. Between the sparkling Christmas celebrations and enviable glamour of the biannual Fashion Weeks, you can guarantee you’ll never be bored with a second home in Milano.