Local knowledge: Milan

La Scala, Milan

La Scala, Milan

Mezzo-soprano Josè Maria Lo Monaco takes us through Milan, telling us where to shop, eat pizza and buy shoes.

After a performance at La Scala, I love dinner at Il Marchesino, run by the great chef Gualtiero Marchesi. I order the typical Milanese dish of risotto allo zafferano topped with gold leaf and served on a black plate that frames the yellow risotto.

My favourite pizzeria is La Galleria in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a beautiful location with stylish furnishings and amazing waitstaff. For pizza cooked in a wood stove I go to Fresco & Cimmino, a traditional Neapolitan restaurant.

I always take guests on a stroll from Sforzesco Castle through the shops of Via Dante to Piazza Cordusio and to the famous Piazza del Duomo. Not far from here is the beautiful Ambrosiana art gallery. It's beyond description - a world masterpiece.

I catch up with friends at Mint Garden Café in Via Casati, a romantic corner in the centre of Milan. It's both a nursery, selling flowers and plants, and a bistro. It's perfect because I love flowers and eating good healthy food.

Any excuse to celebrate we go to Joia, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Corso Buenos Aires, run by the talented chef Pietro Leemann.

I often shop in Via Montenapoleone and sometimes bump into some of my favourite Italian designers in the street or in small bars nearby - Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, or Giorgio Armani. But I never ask for fashion advice.

I love to buy shoes. My favourite shoe designer is Giuseppe Zanotti; a pair of his shoes carried me on my wedding day. For evening dresses and concert gowns the designer I prefer above all is Alberta Ferretti. Right now the perfume I'm wearing is Signature Michael Kors. All these shops are in the fashion district between the Duomo, Via della Spiga, Montenapoleone and San Babila.

On weekends I need relaxation and nature. I love to take long walks with my dogs in Palestro Park near my house, and cycle through the streets, especially beautiful on Sundays when there are few cars.

No matter how many times I've seen it, I still love Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, also known as "Cenacolo", in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It always makes me very happy.

Josè Maria Lo Monaco recently appeared in the lead role in Carmen for the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. opera.org.au

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