Shopping in Milan - Italy
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Milan is a temple to high fashion, home of Armani and Versace, and naturally sure to delight the high priests and priestesses of style.
Top of the list for fashion lovers in Milan is the Quadrilatero d'Oro (Golden Quad), formed by Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Monzani and Via della Spiga. Names such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada, Valentino and Versace read like an ABC of Italian chic.
If you don't fancy venturing inside such hallowed ground as Versace's four floors of couture, you can stick to window-shopping paradise on Via della Spiga, where traffic is banned. L'Armadio de Laura, Via Voghera 25, has some fine offbeat thrift and end-of-season returns.
Antique fairs are popular at the weekends around the Naviglio Grande, while the pedestrian Via Fiori Chiari is a particularly pleasant spot for browsing galleries, with a number of good cafés along the way.
For those who prefer the bustle of street markets, Viale Papiniano (metro San Agostino) is open all day Saturday, while Via Zivetti (metro Centrale FS) is open on Wednesday mornings. The flea market, Fiera di Senigallia, takes place along the Darsena basin on Saturdays (0830-1700).
Another key shopping spot is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a glass-roofed arcade which originally opened in 1867, and is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. A vast Belle Epoque shopping arcade, it was built to link the Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Scala and soon became Milan's conservatory. Winter and summer, Milanese can be seen here, escaping the rain, browsing the exclusive shops and sipping Campari and soda in the bars. Prada's flagship store has been in business here since 1913, joined more recently by Louis Vuitton and Gucci.
The outlet malls is where you'll pick up hefty discounts: try Il Salvagente and the Dmagazine Outlet.
Most shops open 0930-1230 and 1530-1930 Tuesday to Sunday, although the bigger stores stay open all day. Most shops close on Sunday and reopen on Monday afternoon from about 1530-1930, except food stores, which reopen on Monday morning but close again for the afternoon. However, many shops open daily during the Christmas season and major bookshops are open until 2300. Many shops close for most of August.
If you can't afford high fashion, opt for smaller leather items such as gloves, shoes, wallets, belts and purses. Other popular buys include olive oil, wines, cheese, balsamic vinegar and biscotti.
Value added tax is 21%. Non-EU citizens can reclaim VAT on their larger purchases totalling over €154.94 from a single shop displaying a 'tax-free shopping' sign and in duty free shops. There's also a tax-free centre in the basement of La Rinascente department store, where you can get your cash back before leaving the country. However, you'll still have to queue to clear documents at the airport.
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