Housed within a 14th-century convent, the Pinacoteca di Brera showcases works by Italian greats, including Caravaggio, Titian and Modigliani. Few visitors, though, think to seek out the museum’s small Orto Botanico (botanical gardens); located behind the main building, they’re home to Europe’s oldest ginkgo biloba trees.
At lively Nerino Dieci, an abundant Italian seafood menu includes mussels in a dozen different sauces, from rich gorgonzola cheese to a medley of orange and ginger. Visit at lunchtime for the good-value weekday set menus, which include wine and coffee and start at €9 for two courses.
Cantina della Vetra is part enoteca (wine bar) – its substantial wine list includes some heavyweight Amarones and Barolos – and part timeless restaurant. Plump for the superb saffron-infused risotto Milanese, served with guinea hen and truffles, or the veal with porcini and chanterelle mushrooms.
Visitors with a serious sweet tooth should make a beeline to this outpost of much-loved Neapolitan chocolatier Gay Odin. Its famous La Foresta is an exquisite Italian take on a Cadbury’s Flake, while the Scorzette (chocolate-dipped morsels of candied orange peel) are delicious.
The unpretentious Bar Jamaica has been attracting artists, actors and authors since it opened its doors in 1911: illustrious past patrons include Ernest Hemingway, Allen Ginsberg and Nobel literature laureate Dario Fo.
Fully renovated last year, the Hotel Ambasciatori (rooms from €144) is perfectly positioned at the heart of Milan’s pedestrianised shopping district, just steps away from both Piazza San Babila and the 19th-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
The nearby TownHouse Street Milano Duomo (studios from €165) opened last year. Designed by architect Simone Micheli, its seven luxurious studios feature contemporary yellow and black decor, along with blown-up photographs of Milan’s cityscapes.
With government-regulated sales kicking off across the city on 5 January, gorgeous little Guja is the place to stock up on Italian footwear, including sparkly heels and elegant boots and brogues.
Stocking edgy home-grown and international labels, Frip has been a trendsetting favourite since it opened in 1994. Keep an eye out for Acne jeans, contemporary knits by Lucio Vanotti and frock coats from maverick Danish designer Henrik Vibskov.
Just down the road, Lo Specchio di Alice is a wonderland of second-hand treasures, ranging from vintage leather jackets, gaudy Hawaiian shirts and oversized shades to over-the-top American-style prom gowns.
West of Brera proper and relatively new on Milan’s nightlife scene, the chic MiB is just steps from the city’s rococo stock exchange, and attracts a high-flying crowd. Head here for an aperitivo (happy hour) cocktail, or to check out the line-up of live music and DJs.