Some of the most iconic cycling climbs from the Giro d'Italia are within a hearty few days’ ride of Milan. True bike lovers will probably want to fly with their own bikes, but hire options are available in Milan (www.rentalbikeitaly.com). Boast to your friends once you’ve recovered from the Passo del Stelvio, Cipressa and more. I love that it is possible to ride Passo del Stevio's 48 hairpin bends at the weekend and be back at your desk at home on Monday. It's the second highest pass in the Alps.
Level of Difficulty: Hard.
What to pack: You'll need to decide whether to travel fast and light - riding with a credit card and paying for accommodation along the way, or whether you'd prefer to carry a pack of light camping gear. If you'd rather go for a more organised approach than just following your nose round the mountains from cafe to cafe then you can join an organised ride over the mountains from Milan to Geneva - www.ride25.com/cycling-tour/geneva-milan.
Best time to go: spring or early summer.
Fly to Milan for a long weekend climb of Monte Rosa, whose summit lies in Switzerland. It’s a really difficult adventure, usually requiring three days on the mountain plus a couple of preparation days. With guides the summit is achievable for most fit hill-walkers, but its 4634metre summit is an awesome achievement to be proud of. You'll need a decent head for heights for the summit reaches of the mountain are steep and exposed.
This is a proper mountain, and you will be suitably happy with your epic summit photo. You can book with a company such as http://mountaintracks.co.uk/trip/monte-rosa-climber. You will start by taking the aerial tramway to the Klein Matterhorn, but after that the climbing begins in earnest. - See more at: mountaintracks.co.uk/trip/monte-rosa-climber
Level of Difficulty: Extreme.
What to take: discuss this with your guide before travelling.
When to go: late Summer
If it’s style and sophistication you’re after then look no further than Milan; Italy’s largest city has it in abundance. A fantastic holiday and city break option all year round, Milan is a city that never slows down. Whether you come for a bit of sightseeing, world-class shopping, or to sample the varied nightlife, you won’t go home disappointed.
There is over two and a half thousand year’s worth of history in this city, so you self-confessed culture vultures out there are in for a treat. If you like your cathedrals Gothic, your castles Renaissance and your palaces Neoclassical then look no further. Even the shopping comes with a historical twist in the form of the 19th century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele arcade. Now that is what we call shopping in style. And this is of course the real reason you came to Milan isn’t it? If you want to satisfy that shopping bug further, then head down to the picturesque Brera district with its winding streets, flower-draped balconies and expensive little boutique stores. Or, for an even more upmarket experience, then head to the Quadrilatero d’Oro, or Gold Quarter to you and me.