What I oddly love about Milan is that it’s not a touristy city. Sure, many tourists pass through Milan but it’s not like Paris or London where tourists are catered to. I remember my first time in Milan, I thought it was ugly, didn’t get why people loved it, and thought my entire trip was a snooze fest. I only enjoyed the food, thank God. But over the years I’ve come to understand that you simply have to look for the beauty in this city and these are my highlights:
Let’s start with hotels! I don’t know why but Milanese hotels always get me so excited. I feel like Italy’s sense of style, art, fashion, and love for design is very well displayed in the cool hotels of Milano.
Armani or Bulgari? Tough choice but you can’t go wrong with either. I usually get skeptical when designers decide to branch out and try their hand at another art form but when it comes to Mr. Armani, I didn’t doubt it would be magnificent. The same goes for Bulgari, not a detail out of place or forgotten.
Oh, Hotel Principe di Savio this is the place if you like to bump into interesting people and people watch! I think this hotel’s motto is “more is more!” - sometimes you just want more. This is the perfect hotel to indulge in all sorts of hedonistic pleasures life has to offer.
The Mandarin Oriental in London is one of my favorite places in Europe but the one in Milan is a close second. There is something comforting and cozy about this hotel which is located in the chic neighborhood of Brera. They even have a Michelin-starred restaurant, SETA**.
Okay, one could write an entire encyclopedia on restaurants in Milan so I had to make some tough choices and choose (maybe I should do a complete list/database of amazing restaurants I tried? Let us know what you think!).
If you wish to have one of the best brunches in the city, head to EL BELLIN for classic Milanese dishes. I kept getting recommended to eat the risotto alla Milanese and it did not disappoint! This dish is best eaten as an accompaniment to another classic Milanese dish: ossobuco.
Located in an unusual part of town (very...residential), RIBOT sure has pleasantly surprised me. Italy has some seriously delicious meats (sorry non-carnivores). The place is quite big and makes you feel like you can hide in plain sight. Now, we’re all lovers of discretion here but being in your own little world together when you’re out and about is simply the best - this place does it for me!
TRATTORIA DEL NUOVO MACELLO is my favorite restaurant on this list! A non-pretentious establishment where you can feel how much work has been put into the food… What more can you ask? Again, a restaurant that isn’t located in one of Milan’s buzzing hot spots but in Calvairate, right next to Porta Romana. They serve gourmet Lombardian cuisine.
I don’t know why I keep directing you to restaurants that are a bit unusual in location, so let’s check out TRIPPA. A bistro that focuses on simplicity and the roots of Italian cuisine… It’s simply good. Actually, it’s simply great. I do highly recommend making a reservation!
To see, to enjoy
10 CORSO COMO is one of the better-known hotspots of Milan and I always enjoy coming here to relax and enjoy a drink after browsing their store and gallery. You’re kinda hidden away in a little court that’s covered in greenery and it’s the perfect spot to cool down during a hot Italian summer.
L’ARABESQUE is another spot where you can enjoy shopping, foods, and drinks, a design gallery, and a bookstore all in one! This is my idea of an adult theme park, lol. I get the same sense of adrenaline. There’s even a gym now? With a SPA and PILATES STUDIO? Brb, moving to Milano.
When visiting Milan during the summer, it is absolutely mandatory to get some GROM ice cream! One of the best gelato around, you won’t be disappointed by treating yourself! After a short break of gelato bliss while admiring, head out to see the Da Vinci museum, LEONARDO3 MUSEUM - IL MONDO DI LEONARDO. A super cool place full of historic inventions and interactive experiences.
If you’re a lover of the opera, TEATRO DELLA SCALA is a must-visit! The theatre was inaugurated in 1778, which always blows my mind how certain things stand the test of time and others don’t. Will it still be around in a 100 years? Who knows, it is a privilege to witness history in any tangible forms that we can and the appreciation here is real.
Shopping! I’m sorry, did you think I was going to make a city guide about Milan without mentioning shopping? :)
A contemporary showroom that I love holds space for designer & vintage furniture, lighting & home decor: NILUFAR GALLERY. They always have such unique pieces! It’s close to the Mandarin Oriental (love), Hermès (love very much), and a bunch of other luxury shops. The streets are so beautiful and are nice just to take a lovely walk.
CASSINA is another great furniture spot that is just lovely. I read somewhere a review that said “Design with a capital D” and they’re not wrong, haha. This shop always makes me contemplate moving to Milano just to experience la dolce vita in style. The men in well-tailored suits definitely help but it’s the design furniture and food that does it for me, haha!
All right! Last furniture shop, I promise!!! RAIMONDO GARAU is a place where design, vintage, and even antique all come together in one space to admire. Everything looks simply precious and unique!
Moving on to SANTA MARIA NOVELLA 1612, a shop with THE cutest packaging! Everything looks very old-school Italian. A shop that once started as a pharmacy, it has a very interesting ancient heritage that I loved learning about. Their products are so beautifully presented, they’re perfect as a gift!
Of course, we have the GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II, a classic spot for luxury shopping, but aren’t we a bit bored of that? Especially if it’s a hot spot where tourists flock together and dominate the space with their selfie sticks, ha. The look of the gallery and the view from the gallery never gets old but the tourists, unfortunately, do. (Am I a travel snob??)
Right next to the Duomo and la Galleria Vittorio is LA RINASCENTE. A space consisting of 8 floors and topped off with a rooftop bar that has the best view of the Duomo to enjoy a great glass with great company. (pssst, also right next to this, you can find the Quadrilatero d’Oro of fashion consisting of Via Montenapoleone, Via Della Spiga, Via Manzoni, and Corso Venezia).
Written by Ada