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MILAN

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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TRANSPORT

Metro, bus or tram: Milan’s tickets, passes and apps explained

Whether you’re moving to Milan or just visiting, getting to grips with the city's public transport system will be one of your first priorities. Here's what you need to know.

Metro, bus or tram: Milan’s tickets, passes and apps explained

Public transport in Milan is efficient, reliable and relatively cheap. 

However, navigating the dense network of trams, buses and metro lines servicing the city might not exactly be a piece of cake at first, especially for foreign nationals. 

So here’s a guide to help you get to grips with Milan’s public transport system sooner rather than later.

Overview

Milan’s urban area is serviced by four metro lines (M1, M2, M3, M5) – a new one, M4, is currently under construction and is expected to be fully operational by late 2024 – and over 130 bus routes and 19 tram lines. 

Milan metro lines

All metro lines and stops in Milan. Source: ATM Milano

All of these services are conveniently managed by a single operator, ATM (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi). This means that a single ticket or pass will allow you to hop on any given means of transport in the city and freely switch from one to the other without additional costs, provided, of course, that you haven’t exceeded your ticket’s validity time. 

Aside from your ticket’s duration, you should also always pay attention to the city’s fare zones. 

READ ALSO: What are the best Milan neighbourhoods for international residents?

Standard tickets and passes only cover the three first zones (Mi1 to Mi3), so a journey to any location outside of those zones (Mi4 to Mi9) requires a different ticket or the addition of a supplementary fare to your pass (tariffa integrativa). 

Be advised: travelling on the wrong ticket will cost you dearly as fines for transgressors start at 120 euros. Also, ticket inspectors in Milan are famously unreasonable.

Tickets and passes 

ATM offers a wide range of tickets and passes to customers, so you’ll never be short on options. Here’s a brief overview.

Standard single ticket (zones Mi1-Mi3): A single ticket is valid for 90 minutes and allows for unlimited journeys within the given time window and, of course, only within the relevant fare zones. Each ticket costs 2.20 euros.

Daily ticket (zones Mi1-Mi3): A daily ticket will get you unlimited journeys within a 24-hour window for just 7.60 euros. The time window starts when first validating the ticket.

Fare zones in Milan

Fare zones in Milan, from Mi1 to Mi9. Source: ATM Milano

Three-day ticket (zones Mi1-Mi3): A three-day ticket will cost you 13 euros. As for daily tickets, the time window starts when validating for the first time.

10-ticket bundle: A 10-ticket bundle will set you back 19.50 euros. Each ticket is valid for 90 minutes. 

Monthly and annual passes: While tickets are the best option for visitors, getting a monthly or yearly pass would be the best course of action for a resident. 

Monthly passes for Milan’s urban area cost 39 euros, whereas annual urban passes go for 330 euros. In both cases, a number of generous discounts are available for under-30s, low-income residents and the elderly.

READ ALSO: Five things you’ll only know if you live in Milan

It’s worth noting that, unlike standard tickets, monthly or yearly passes must be loaded onto a personal ATM travel card. To get one, you’ll have to submit a request through the relevant ATM web page and then ask for the card to be delivered to your address or pick it up yourself at one of the given metro stations. 

Where and how can I buy tickets?

From paper tickets to contactless payments, there’s no shortage of ways to pay your public transport fare in Milan. Here are your options.

Paper tickets

They might not be the most eco-friendly option but paper tickets are still around in Milan. 

The best way to get them is from a self-service machine at your nearest metro station – card payments are accepted – though you can also find them at a number of edicole (newsagents) or tabacchini (tobacco stores) across the city. A full list of authorised sellers is available here.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

Validating paper tickets is fairly straightforward as you’ll only have to insert the ticket in the appropriate slot (you’ll find one on every metro entrance gate and on brightly-coloured boxes on buses and trams) and wait for it to be stamped. 

A passenger waiting for a train in a Milan metro station

Milan has four metro lines but a new one is currently under construction. Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

However, you should keep in mind that you’re meant to validate your ticket every time you switch to a different means of transport. Also, when using the metro, you’ll need the ticket to both get in and out of the underground, so make sure you don’t lose it during the journey. 

RicaricaMI card

All types of tickets except monthly or yearly passes can be loaded onto a RicaricaMI travel card. 

The card can be bought at any ATM point in the city or at any of the above-mentioned authorised sellers. 

This is a good alternative to paper tickets, not least because you’ll only have to tap it against the given reader to validate it.

ATM app

The quickest (and possibly the easiest) way to get a ticket is through the ATM Milano app.

No registration is required and you can pay for tickets with your credit card, PayPal or Satispay. 

READ ALSO: Six essential apps that make life in Milan easier for foreign residents

After validating your ticket, a QR code will appear on your screen and you’ll have to scan this to get through the metro barriers. However, scanning isn’t required on buses and trams. 

The app can be downloaded here

Contactless

Finally, all metro lines and three bus lines (56, 70 and 73) allow travellers to pay their fare via a contactless bank card – Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Maestro e VPay are all accepted – or any other contactless device (phone, smart watch, etc.).

You’ll always be charged the cheapest available fare (find out more about this here) and there are no extra costs or commissions.

Linate Airport just outside of Milan

ATM’s bus 73 connects central Milan to Linate Airport. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

That said, ATM recommends that people use the same card (or device) to tap in and out of metro stations so as to avoid being charged twice. 

Airport travel

ATM’s bus 73 connects central Milan (Via Gonzaga, behind Piazza Duomo, to be exact) to Linate Airport and a standard single ticket will be enough for the journey.

Naturally, there are other ways to get to Linate, including the Linate Shuttle and several Autostradale coaches, but these are not managed by ATM so you’ll have to get your tickets elsewhere.

As for Malpensa, all services between central Milan and the airport are managed by companies other than ATM. 

However, prices are still very affordable: the Malpensa Express costs 13 euros, whereas a one-way journey on the Malpensa Shuttle is 10 euros.

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