A visit to Italy is food for the soul. It is one of my favorite places to visit and its beauty and intrigue never ceases to amaze me. Milan was no exception and so I wanted to share with you some great spots from my long weekend there this January.
Not entirely sure what to expect of Milan, I found was a city that effortlessly blends the old with the new, the timeless with the modern. My senses were delighted as I felt pulled around every corner, enamored by the effortless sophistication and grandeur, fascinated by the art, design, architecture and style, intrigued by the grit and the edge, the wealth and the power, in awe of the contrasts. I certainly got a good dose of creative inspiration. Milan has many layers and I feel as though I've just scratched the surface.
Read on for some travel recommendations and tips for visiting Milan.
Where to stay in Milan:
For more local experience, I like to stay in neighborhoods that are a bit outside of the city center, yet still easily accessible by foot and public transportation. These neighborhoods enable me to catch a glimpse of real, everyday life and take in all of the details that make that place someones home.
Maison Borella, in the Navigli district, served as our homebase for the weekend and we really enjoyed our stay. Situated on Naviglio Grande, it was both nicely positioned for exploring and experiencing the local culture. One suggestion I would make is to book an interior courtyard room, as we did, since the bars and restaurants along the canal can get quite noisy in the evenings and especially on weekends.
Enjoy a great Milanese meal at:
Ravello 18 A family-run restaurant in Milan's Brera district serving elevated regional dishes using seasonal produce.
Antica Trattoria della Pesa One of the oldest restaurants in Milan featuring local, Lombard cuisine in a beautifully preserved trattoria with wonderful service. The portions were quite generous so this is a good place to sample and share a couple of local specialties.
Osteria Conchetta A simple and refined restaurant near Naviglio Pavese that serves traditional, Milanese dishes. We found the portions to be easily sharable here as well.
Osteria Democratica Wine bar with fabulous service, a selection of shareable plates like crostone, cheeses and meats, and great wines by the glass or bottle. The terrace looked nice for the warmer months and they also have live music and comedy some nights!
Some more casual food spots that we enjoyed:
Luini It's been around since 1888 for good reason. The panzerotti are delicious and served warm, ready to be enjoyed on the go.
All'Antico Vinaio I have to say, I feel some sort of way about how this panini spot has gotten out of control in Florence, where it originates, but their panini are delicious! They now have outposts in Milan, Rome, Torino, LA and New York (that I know of).
Enjoy an aperitif or glass of wine at these bars in Milan:
Mag Cafe Interesting cocktails in a cozy and lively atmosphere on Naviglio Grande.
Cantine Isola dal 1896 When you think of a wine bar in Italy, this is the place. It's located in Chinatown so I suggest checking out some other spots while you're in the area!
Or a caffè at:
Pasticceria Cova Enjoy a caffè and pastry in one of Italy's oldest pasticceria. To stand at the bar and enjoy your coffee as the Italians do, first pay for your order with the cashier and then bring your ticket to the counter to be served. Table service also available.
Lavazza Big name, great coffee, lovely service. I wouldn't include it here if it wasn't good! Like the above, place your order with the cashier and then bring your ticket to the bar. Table service also available.
Indulge in fashion, art, architecture and design at:
Duomo di Milano Be sure to book ahead online and don't miss the rooftop!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II This glass-topped, frescoed, colorfully-tiled 19th century arcade is the one of the oldest shopping galleries in the world. It houses one of the very first Prada stores and the campari bar (Camparino) among other designer stores and beautiful dining spots.
Armani Silos A must-visit for fashion and design lovers. It's earned a spot as one of my favorite design museums ever.
10 Corso Como An intriguing mix of designer fashion, homewares and art with a restaurant and terrace set within a tranquil courtyard.
Fondazione Prada I didn't make it here on this trip but it's on the list for next time.
Other areas of Milan to take a stroll around:
- Parco Sempione and Sforzesco Castle
- Brera Design District & Montenapoleone
- Navigli Canals
- Piazza Gae Aulenti, Porta Nuova & Corso Como