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Milan for art lovers

The city is known for its fashion and football, but there’s more to Milan than designer clothes and Serie A. It’s also home to some of Italy’s finest modern and contemporary art and an exciting restaurant scene. But perhaps the most compelling reason to visit is the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition – Italy’s largest ever – opening at the Palazzo Reale this spring, which promises to be an unmissable event (15 April-19 July, milanmuseumguide.com).

Once you’ve ticked off the big sights – the gothic Duomo (cathedral), La Scala Opera House, and the beautiful glass-domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade – hotfoot it to the artsy Brera or Navigli districts, the best places for strolling and people-watching. Art aficionados won’t want to miss the masterpieces housed in the medieval Castello Sforzesco, the Pinacoteca di Brera, and the Museo del Novecento with its collection of Italian art spanning the 19th and 20th centuries. The BikeMi cycle sharing scheme – the Milanese equivalent of “Boris bikes” (bikemi.com) – is a great way of getting around town. Head for the green spaces of the Parco Sempione to let off steam.

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Ostello Bello is one of the city’s best budget options with funky dorms and private rooms, and a sociable café-bar (doubles from €80, ostellobello.com).

A theatrical dining experience is guaranteed at Carlo e Camilla in Segheria, where Michelin-starred chef Carlo Cracco serves up inventive food at a single communal table in an artfully distressed former sawmill (carloecamillainsegheria.it).

“The best cappuccino in Milan can be found at the Bastianello café (via Borgogna 5),” says Alice Salvagnin of Milan Private Tours (milanprivatetours.com). “The apple and cinnamon croissants made in the patisserie are delicious, but you need to get there early as they sell out.”