Beyond the intricately breathtaking architecture of Milan’s Duomo, the glamour of the city’s renowned fashion week and the grand walls of Sforzesco Castle, Milan has a wonderfully unique culture.
Undeniably cosmopolitan yet still bound by tradition – and not to mention the spiritual home of the aperitivo – Milan is the ideal destination for a whirlwind city break, especially if you like a drink.
With less than 48 hours to spend in Milan, I was less concerned with doing the major tourist attractions in favour of getting a taste of the local culture. 
This meant, rather than strolling museums and climbing the stairs to the top of the cathedral, I spent my time wandering the city, drinking coffee and eating top quality food. And of course I had to have a cocktail or two (or seven).
First on the list, before you’ve managed to get any booze down you, is, of course, Duomo di Milano.
Built between the 14th and 19th century, Italy’s largest cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. 
Staying just a 15 minute walk away, I decided to wander around the huge square, bordered by several coffee shops, the Gucci flagship store, Italy’s oldest shopping gallery – which is full to the brim with designer stores – and, of course, a McDonald’s.
The huge square in front of the Duomo features a large fountain where, already falling in love with the city, I perched while enjoying a coffee and pistachio cannoli along with a cheeky Marlboro Red. 
If you’re a culture vulture, the Duomo is right by Brera, also known as Milan’s artist’s quarter. Here you’ll find the Pinacoteca di Brera, the main public gallery for paintings in Milan – the same building houses Italy’s oldest and most beautiful library. 
There’s also the astronomy museum and Museo del Risorgimento, perfect for history lovers.
And, if you want to venture further out, why not tour the city in style on a vintage Fiat 500 tour?
Just off to the side of the Duomo, on the outside of the Galleria, sits a historical bar and restaurant.
Originally opened over 100 years ago, and still home to many of its original features, the Camparino was a key part of the birth of Milan’s aperitivo culture.
An aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink, usually consumed between 7pm and 9pm with a selection of nibbles such as nuts and olives or, if you happen to visit Camparino, the most delightful fruit I’ve ever tasted: baby peaches.
Here, you can learn about the history of Milan’s most famous beverage, Campari, which is the key ingredient of the Negroni cocktail. 
As well as delicious cocktails, including those without any Campari, such as the NoLo, the upstairs dining area, Sala Spiritiello has a menu to die for. 
Trust me, I’m still thinking about the lamb shank and chocolate mousse. 
To learn more about the history of Campari, the most popular drink in Milan, you can also book a tour of the Campari Galleria, which delves into Campari’s famous advertising campaigns throughout the years. 
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Just a 15 minute walk away from the Duomo is the mediaeval Sforenzo Castle. Just a hop and a skip through the old fort’s courtyard (where you can get a delightful crema al caffè, essentially a caffeinated, coffee flavoured slush puppy for grownups) and you’ll find yourself looking out at the sprawling Parco Smepione – the largest park in Milan.
For me, finding a spot in the sun with my book, just in earshot of two amazingly talented female buskers was all I needed, and for those on a budget, this park would be the ideal spot for a wine-fuelled picnic.
But the park is ginormous with so much to see, like Arco della Pace (or the Arch of Peace), one of Milan’s oldest sporting arenas, an aquarium and Palazzo dell’Arte – the palace of the arts.
Walking into Bar Basso is like stepping back in time. 
Situated in what is now the city’s university district, the bar features pink walls, grand chandeliers and a huge wooden bar, with eclectic furnishings and artwork dotted around the main seating area. 
Not to mention the plentiful outdoor seating, with tens of Milanese locals perched under the bar’s iconic red and white striped canopy enjoying a refreshing cocktail under the warm evening sun. 
Opened in 1947, Bar Basso popularised aperitivo culture for the everyday Italian, making it a staple of Milanese culture (before its opening, cocktails were reserved for exclusive lounge bars of expensive hotels) and it even created the Negroni Sbagliato, a twist on the classic Negroni using Prosecco instead of gin.
Bar Basso is as authentic as it gets and has a cocktail menu of more than 500 drinks including Campari Spritz that are quite literally the size of your head.
For great food, drinks and a lively atmosphere, Naviglio is the place to be in Milan.
Wandering through the district, you’ll get a taste of the old Milan, particularly down side streets and in the area’s many courtyards.
Naviglio is defined by Milan’s historic canals, which flow through the district, but it is equally defined as being another popular hub for Milanese aperitivo culture.
The Doping Bar is one Naviglio bar that epitomises the culture, with one of the nicest cocktail menus I have ever experienced, and drool-worthy pre-dinner snacks, like almonds. 
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The ever changing menu keeps regulars on their toes, but my favourite had to be the Coco Chanel inspired Doping #5 cocktail, which came complete with an edible pearl.
All in all, the combination of tradition and modernity that characterises metropolitan Milan made for the perfect city break, especially for a city girl like me.
Honestly, I’ve been Googling Milan rent prices ever since I came home, and I can’t wait to eventually return – hopefully for more than 48 hours next time.’s flight and stay in Milan was covered by Campari
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