This beautiful Italian city has plenty to entice tourists, writes Donna McIntyre.

Travellers to Italy sometimes overlook Milan as they instead head to Rome, Venice and Florence. But that can work in Milan's favour, being less crowded and more accessible in the warmer European months. If it's your first time in this fabulous city of fashion, here's an idea of the best places to visit.

THE DUOMO

Entry to the Duomo: free. Cost of buying a scarf to cover my shoulders and be allowed to enter: €5 Euros ($7.39). It's not an impulse buy I regret ... like Milan itself, the scarf is effortlessly stylish. Right in the city centre, the Duomo is the world's largest Gothic cathedral. Work started in 1386 and it took nearly 500 years to complete. There are 135 spires and 3200 statues along the roof that you can see up close by taking the elevator or climbing stairs to the rooftop — and you'll be rewarded with a great city view.

LA SCALA OPERA HOUSE AND MUSEUM

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An interior as beautiful as the fine voices that have been enjoyed here, Teatro alla Scala, or La Scala, is one of Italy's top historic opera houses. It first opened in 1778 and has served as the opening venue for many famous operas. Opera fans need to book in advance to attend an opera. Not so for the museum, which has a collection of musical instruments, portraits and busts of musicians and you can access some boxes to look over the auditorium.

GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II

Top-end shopping, bars and restaurants are housed in the elegant glass-roofed arcade of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, built in 1867 in a cross-shape and linking the squares of the Duomo and La Scala. Inside are mosaics and some consider it good luck to stand on the testicles of the bull of Turin. You have to look for the small bull on the floor though ... and its good-luck bits have been worn away by all those tourists rubbing them.

CASTELLO SFORZESCO

Milan's castle is close to the city centre and you don't have to climb a hill to get to it. It houses several museums and is a good place to wander around, and its courtyard serves as a park. The art museum has Michelangelo's last sculpture, the Rondanini Pieta. There's also the Museum of Ancient Art, a collection of musical instruments, and the prehistoric and Egyptian sections of the Archaeology Museum.

CANALS

The Navigli of Milan are the artificial canals constructed between 1179 and the 16th century to make Milan accessible from Ticino and Adda. Canal-side restaurants and cafes are charming places to enjoy the water views, especially at night. Our teenager was in pizza heaven.

CHECKLIST
Getting there: Emirates flies from Auckland to Milan, via Dubai.