SIPPING an espresso at one of the front tables at Gran Bar Zucca in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele watching the fashionistas strut by is a quintessential Milan pastime. It is an expensive coffee but I'm paying for a ringside seat in the city's most famous and elegant shopping arcade.
At the next table, two middle-aged men enjoy cigars and Camparis before noon. A passer-by somehow manoeuvres a great Dane through the throng.
Tourists hug backpacks to their fronts and try to move through the melee while taking in the magnificent 19th-century extravaganza of the arcade, especially its beautiful steel-and-glass roof. In the centre of the gallery, for good luck, they queue to turn three times on their right heel on the testicles of the bull depicted in the floor tiles.
Spending 48 hours in Milan is a little like speed-dating. I have time only to note what looks good and what I'd like to return to explore. It's a fleeting but successful date - hopefully there will be a next time.
Not always on the top of tourists' lists, Milan is a big, busy, complex city where the locals easily outnumber the visitors (unlike, say, Florence, Venice and Verona). Food, fashion and fun are important to the Milanese and I followed these pursuits to explore the city.
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