The best way to see Milan is to visit side streets and courtyards. You’re bound to find the city’s best-kept secrets. We bring you Ten Reasons to Visit Milan to show you why you should pack your bags and head straight to Milan this very minute!
Via Brera, 8
Massimo Alma’s boutique is a world away from the slick retail spaces of big fashion brands in Milan’s Quadrilatero della moda district. The quaint ring of an old-fashioned shop bell greets visitors when they cross the threshold of the boutique on a side street in the Bera neighborhood. Inside, the store is dressed in wallpaper made of pages taken from gardening journalists (the city’s botanical garden is nearby) and vintage furniture form Alma’s home. On hangers, there’s his signature knitwear for men and women made from Italian cashmere in colors created with natural dyes and shirts, pants and shorts in soft cotton and linen.
Via Montebello, 7
First brought to life by florist Raimondo Bianchi, Fioraio Bianchi has morphed in recent years into a cafè-cum-bistro where patrons can enjoy lunch, dinner or a frothy cappuccino in the amidst fresh flowers that are available for sale. The kitchen seems to have taken a contemporary take on the traditional Italian cuisine, serving up pasta with roasted aubergine and grated ricotta along with a chicken pinwheel roll of baby spinach and melting mozzarella prepared with carrot flan. To satisfy one’s sweet tooth, you must try the house cannelès, which is a traditional Bordeaux dessert made with a soft rum and vanilla- infused dough.
Piazza XXV Aprile, 10
Inaugurated in 2014, the addition to the Eataly gourmet supermarket chain is housed in a former theatre and the three-storey space puts on a show for the senses (there’s live music most evenings at 7 pm). Shelves are stocked with fresh produce and artisanal foodstuffs (products selected with the help from Italy’s Slow Food Association), Italian wine from vineyards in Sicily to the country’s mountainous province of South Tryoll as well as bevy of local craft beers. Pick up one of the hundreds of selected cheeses, Neapolitan pasta, or sweets from famed Turin chocolatier Guido Gobino. If you work up an appetite shopping, there are food stations serving pizza, pasta, and panini along with a formal sit-down restaurant upstairs.
Via Solferino, 33
Despite its’ name, Dry is a well-stocked cocktail lounge ideal for enjoying the evening “aperitivo” (Milanese speak for happy hour). Patrons sip classic cocktails from the golden age of bartending that are concocted by the able hands if barman Guglielmo Miriello. The Puglia native makes an eye-opening Corpse Reviver #2 with a sweet Italian fortified wine and his movements and long pours behind the brass bar counter are a delight to behold. When hunger calls, staff are at the ready with a special house focaccia topped with buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto crudo as well as pizzas cooked in a wood-fired Neapolitan oven.
Via Santa Marta, 14
Those looking for a more eclectic offering of womenswear should make a beeline to Uberta Zambeletti concept boutique Wait and See. Max Mara and Missoni, stylist and designer Zambeletti has pulled together a variant collection of graphic print tops, dresses, and skirts inside a space that was once a space to nuns. Find everything from jewelry to bags to bikinis for sale at prices that won’t break the bank.
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Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 6
In 1990, Tuscan chef Giacomo Bistrot moved his eponymous restaurant Giacomo to Via Pasquale Sottocorno. Since then, this trattoria, whose focus is fish, has been joined by Giacomo Bistrot next door (the company owns a pastry shop across the street). The Bistrot whips up meals continuously from noon to midnight every day of the week, a rarity in Milan. The dècor recalls a Parisian bistro, with marble countertops, dark hand-painted boiserie, and red glass goblets. Dishes range from pesto and potato lasagna to shrimp tartare a French bubbly or local sparkling Franciacirta wine to start and move to one of the popular Tuscan and Piedmontese vintages to finish.
Via San Tomaso, 8
Tucked away in a quiet lane between the Duomo and Sforzesco Castle, the 18-room Palazzo Segreti is the perfect base camp for travelers in Milan. Its central location means the city’s main attractions, parks and shops are easily reachable on foot. Inside the 19th -century palazzo the owners have avoided the cookie-cutter approach, giving each guest room its own identity through decoration that uses furniture from Italy’s big design brands. Exposed brick walls and hardwood floors give way to beds from Cappellini, side tables and chairs from Kartell and Moroso and lighting from Artemide and Flos. The downstairs lobby has a Nordic-inspired touch with artwork and boasts a wine bar open all night to hotel guests.
Via Solferino, 48
Nathalie Jean a Montreal native, trained as an architect made the move to Milan a quarter century ago to find inspiration in Italy’s design capital. She branched out and started creating jewelry in 1998, and much of it is made from sterling silver that she crafts by hand in her atelier. Her earrings, bracelets, and necklaces have attracted clients from Seoul to New York who are drawn to her unusual shapes that are influenced by her travels and nature. In the spring of 2014, she opened her bijou boutique where she welcomes guests every afternoon and evening to perch themselves on vintage Gio Ponti chairs while perusing her latest pieces. Open from Thursday to Saturday from 12.30 pm to 8.30 pm.
Alzaia Naviglio Pavese, 286
French-born and American raised chef Alice Delcourt has won over the hearts, minds, and palates of locals with her mix of creativity and sustainable farming that doesn’t stray too far from the classics of Italian cooking. Set on the outskirts of the city along one of Milan’s well-known canals, patrons at Erba Brusca can dine outdoors and admire the garden where vegetables and herbs are grown to use in the kitchen. Delcourt sources from local diaries and butchers and ingredients are based on the seasons. She’s won top marks for her couscous with lamb and serves hearty risotto and gnocchi dishes plus a tasty starter of bruschetta with stracciatella cheese. Open Wednesday to Sunday, with live jazz on Wednesday evenings and a Sunday brunch featuring a dressed-down menu with poppy seed pancakes and burgers.
Via Mozart, 14
Completed in 1935 by Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi, Villa Necchi Campiglio was built for an industrialist’s family and one of the first city residences with a heated swimming pool. Today, the house is the part of Italy’s National Trust, and guided tours are given Wednesday to Sunday to allow visitors a glimpse of the chic villa and its original furnishings that include a serpentine sofa, sliding doors made of brass and nickel and opulent marble bathrooms. In the living room, one finds portraits of the owners and their friends, many of whom were European royals, along with modern paintings from the likes of Giorgio de Chirico.