Milan has always been a choice destination. What Milan has always offered is chic and so discreet that many casual visitors have initially failed to spot its charms. For those who do want to discover Milan's secrets and who are prepared to venture behind the city's somewhat austere façades, the city offers a fine experience.
Milan is culturally rich. The city is home to the world-famous La Scala opera house. There are enough museums and art galleries to keep any art lover happy - indeed the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is one of the greatest European art collections. Though Milan lost buildings during World War II, it has many fine architectural examples from the Roman period through to the 20th century: basilicas, churches, chapels, castles, palaces - even the monumental Stazione Centrale is of historical and architectural significance.
For shoppers, the city's Sunday antique markets and the bohemian villages in the south of the city present another Milan - quieter, more relaxed. The neighborhood stores - the pasticcerie, the salumerie - are a delight. At the other end of the scale, Milan is home to the world's greatest fashion houses: Versace, Fendi, Armani, Dolce e Gabbana. A great number of tourists come here solely for the fashion - to buy, to seek, and to be seen. At certain times of the year, fashion shows are the attraction, at other times the sales, where the promise of a Versace or Armani item at a fraction of the original cost entices shoppers from all over Europe.
With some careful planning, a visit to Milan can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. With art collections to rival those in any other European city and with some stunning Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, Milan will satisfy tourists in search of culture. At the other end of the scale, it is a fun city, with superb restaurants, a lively bar and nightlife scene, and excellent shopping.