Photo by Anthea Simms

After the Fall 2010 shows wrapped in Milan, I had one day to explore the city so, of course, I went shopping. This is by no means a complete guide to shopping in Milan but if you’re on a time clock (say 12 hours), here’s where to go:

My hotel was around the corner from the Duomo in the city centre. You’ll find pretty much every type of store in a half hour walk – from Italian designer houses (Gucci to Versace) to global powerhouses (H&M and Swatch). While you may not have the budget to shop designer, don’t let that stop you from going in and browsing. You’ll never find a better selection – the boutiques are huge – unlike the tiny offerings usually available in Canada. But don’t wear sneakers—Italians might just judge you based on your bad footwear.

One of my favourites stops is the Prada flagship in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It may look like a tiny handbag boutique when you pass by, but downstairs you’ll find their coveted footwear plus the men’s and women’s collections. If you prefer a more casual look, walk over to the Prada Sport store on the Corso Venezia. If I had more time, I’d custom order a pair of colourful boots or a parka—you pick the material and colour.

From there, walk the streets of Via Monte Napoleone, Della Spiga, Gesu, and Sant’Andrea (all connected) to check out Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Gucci, Moschino, Miu Miu, Valentino—one major name after the other. And in between, you’ll find smart jewelry and footwear boutiques. Italians love to shop and preen so it doesn’t get any better than this on a sunny afternoon. The DSquared2 store on Via Verri is a must-see for its tongue-in-chic interpretation of Canadiana design: antler chandeliers, log stump seats and wood block walls.

And if you’re lucky, you might score some bargains at Dmagazine on the Via Monte Napoleone, a designer discount shop.

The restaurants around the Duomo are nothing special. Most charge a fortune for a plate of chewy pasta and basic sauce. Charleston Ristorante is tucked away on a side street in the Piazza del Liberty, just by the Via Agnello. Susie Sheffman from Fashion magazine steered me here and it’s delicious and well-priced. Another great food find is the 7th floor of the department store, La Rinascente. Here you’ll find a sushi bar, champagne bar, gelato and luxury items – and a brilliant view of the Duomo at night.

What to buy in particular? The Italians excel at leather, so you’ll be tempted by all of the footwear, handbags, small leather goods, gloves—the latter in gorgeous colours at Sermoneta Gloves on Via Della Spiga.

Make sure you ask about getting a tax refund. You pay a whopping 20% tax and you’ll get most of that back if the paperwork is done. Just leave at least 30 minutes to process it at the airport – after you’ve checked in for your flight – since lineups can be long.

I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter