03/06/2015 01:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Not to Look Like a Tourist In Milan

by J.J. Martin

Milan is more than Italy's business or fashion capital -- it's a city as stubbornly passionate about maintaining its sense of tradition as it is dedicated to innovation. Just make sure to follow these rules on your next visit.

A busy coffee bar in Milan | Photo: Courtesy Alamy

Don't order a cappuccino after 11 a.m. Here, it's a breakfast drink and much too heavy to ingest after a meal (and remember, Italians take it standing up at the bar, not at a table).

There's a right way to order in a café: Check out the pastries or sandwiches in the display, order and pay at the cashier, then bring your receipt to the barman, who will serve you at the bar.

Avoid the cafés in the tourist ridden Galleria and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II as well as around the Duomo. The only exception: the brilliant Zucca café, in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Tourists swarm the tables, but there's a delightful old-school local crowd at the bar (standing, of course).

Don't try to have lunch at a bar, a café, or even a restaurant during the off-hours of 2:30 through 7:30 p.m. However...

Embrace the mini-meal. The Italian tradition of the fully stocked aperitivo spread was born in Milan. Order a drink starting at around 6:30 p.m. and you'll find it comes with a complimentary plate piled high with mini portions of risotto, pizza, prosciutto, mozzarella, and olives.

For more, check out our Complete Guide to Milan.

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