Milan is the discreet sister to gritty Rome, and it's a city fully immersed in culture. Whether the art of the aperitivo, the spectacular art scene, or an amazing panorama of architecture that spans styles and milennia, Milan is an oasis of style, art, and architecture. Depending on the time of year, Milanese life can be found indoors at cafés, restaurants, and cultural centers, or outdoors in an interactive catwalk of design and fashion.

The city celebrates its patron Saint Ambrogio on December 7, and then adds a week to carnival for Carnevale Ambrosiano. In fall and winter, the city holds court as fashion capital for its women’s and men’s fashion weeks (held at separate times). For two days in both spring and fall, Milan’s amazing “museum homes” are open to the public for Giornate FAI (Italian National Trust). The mid-April Salone del Mobile turns the entire city into an indoor/outdoor party dedicated to design, and this is perhaps one of the loveliest times to visit Milan, if you can get a hotel room.