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Shopping in Milan, it's a catwalk!

PUBLISHED: 19:05 28 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:56 03 March 2010

FOOTBALL is not a matter of life and death: it's far more important than that. But I'd imagine the average football widow would be inclined to disagree with these words of the late, great Bill Shankly… I mean, hadn't he heard of shopping?

Fellas, make sure you have yourself a shot of Grappa in that Peroni before you let the missus loose on Milano because, above all, it is a fashionista's paradise.

FOOTBALL is not a matter of life and death: it's far more important than that. But I'd imagine the average football widow would be inclined to disagree with these words of the late, great Bill Shankly… I mean, hadn't he heard of shopping?

Fellas, make sure you have yourself a shot of Grappa in that Peroni before you let the missus loose on Milano because, above all, it is a fashionista's paradise.

Credit-card hungry boutiques from all the famous fashion houses line the network of narrow streets around the exclusive Monte Napoleone (it's 'Monte Nap' in you're lucky enough to swing with the in-crowd). All testify to Milan's pole-position sashay - sweetly hand-in-hand with Paris, of course - down the catwalks of the world.

Versace, the label can be found a five-minute walk, north-east of the Piazza della Scala, along with anyone whose anyone in the fashion market – Cartier, Dolce Gabana, Armani. I could go on, daahling, but it was just simply too divine.

Their window displays, so stylish, so minimal allow the clothes, the shoes, the cool-as-ice down-lined khaki overcoat to do the talking. And in November it was a joy to witness a shopping precinct (if you must call it that) that would sooner lose its thumbs to a cotton loom than see Father Christmas plastered over its 18th century salons.

Stroll back past the pale-yellow Teatro della Scala, one of opera world's oldest venues and through to the shimmering mosaiced ceilings of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II that connects the Piazza della Scala with the Piazza del Duomo. Known as 'il salotto di Milano' (Milan's drawing room) thanks to the chi-chi bistros and restaurants that stretch languidly under its glass dome.

It was named after the epoch-making Italian monarch who wrested the city from Austrian control in 1859. And I'm sure he would be pleased to know that Prada is on the left and a few yards away on the same side is a shop selling replica shirts from teams in Serie A.

Towering over the Piazza del Duomo – and faced off in ugly confrontation by no fewer than four MacDonald's and Burger King – is the multi-spired Gothic cathedral that sprung on to the world stage when it hosted Gianni Versace's quasi-state funeral. Elton John – a regular visitor the city – was famously pictured sitting here next to Princess Diana as he wept over his slaughtered fashion guru friend.

Views from the roof, this vertiginous reporter was told, are spectacular. From up there you can see one of the city's other main landmarks - the Castello Sforzesco, whose 15th century redbrick ramparts contain a string of impressive museums and galleries.

A must-see for art lovers, too, would be Leonardo da Vinci's iconic fresco, The Last Supper in the Dominican refectory next to Bramante's Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie (1km west of the Duomo). Sadly, it was closed (as everything else is on a Monday) but well-worth seeing for all its recent and painstaking renovation.

Shopping and sight-seeing, however, can be hungry work. If you manage to find restaurant (try the Ristorante del Mercato, a street east of the Piazza del Duomo) I recommend the creamily yellow risotto milanese – risotto cooked simply with saffron and dusted with parmeggiano and then a lemony veal cutlet, a speciality of the region. Wash it down with a bottle or two of Buttafuoca, and raise your glass that the good time Blues continue. Buon appetito, Tractor Boys. Last supper in Europe? Don't bet on it.

www.citylightsnews.com _ for maps and brief guides to the high spots.

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