Bars & Cafes
If gin’s your thing, book it over to the only spot in Milan cooking up their own sauce. This good-looking Isola micro-distillery has plenty of other booze lining the shelves, and the cocktail list is no slouch – just make sure you pick from the menu, as leaving your order up to the bartender tends to stick you with a super-sized bill.
This charming little spot tucked behind one of the city’s architectural gems, the Rotonda della Besana, serves up simple, fresh food inspired by the spirit and directly delivered from the heart of Umbria. Small, simple plates of meats, cheeses and their famous Torta al Testo (flatbread stuffed with pork) are great for a post work aperitivo. It is a perfect all-day cafe but those busybees without time for a piccola pausa will be happy to discover that PreTesto also delivers— one of the few spots in the city to do so.
Those looking for a drinks menu as colorful as a Dolce & Gabbana cocktail dress, should head to Dry. We love the French 75 and the Hanky Panky and the crispy flatbreads are a lifesaver when you’re already half way through your second.
With the feel of a mom-and-pop trattoria but contemporary like a mini-market (they take credit cards!), Abbottega is a convenient stop for fast, fresh food that tastes like grandma’s but looks like something that grand cuoco Cracco could cook up.
Owned by the two charming grandsons of historic patisserie family Alemagna, centrally located and divinely decorated by of-the-moment architect Vincenzo de Cotiis, T’A does first-rate modern Italian cuisine for lunch and dinner and desserts that will destroy your diet plans. It’s a crime to skip the homemade chocolates with your afternoon macchiato. Sweetening the deal is their first shop of T’a-branded artisan chocolates inside the Bistrot.
Milan has a loyal following when it comes to posh accommodation but just as new seasons welcome new designers, there’s another player in the luxury hotel game. We love the new Mandarin Oriental not just for the sleek design but for the bar, set to become the new late-night hotspot in town. Delicious cocktails and bouncing DJ sets—all enjoyed in the lush garden—will make you feel miles outside of the city.
A Negroni is fun for a Friday night but a good Vermentino will never let you down. Wine aficionados looking to bring home some titles to beef up their cellar need look no further than Enoteca Cotti in the heart of Brera. More than 1,000 labels can be found here with the added bonus that grappaworshippers can retire to a dedicated room where there’s nothing but the strong stuff.
Drop into high-end smoke shop Giacomo Tabaccheria. The Tabaccheria is the newest addition to Giacomo’s Sottocorno Empire, adding a cozy, wood-and marble-lined nook alongside the fancy-pants restaurant, casual bistro, and opulent pastry shops that already rule the block. Grab a coffee or a glass of wine, pick up a cigar plus packaged delicacies, hot snacks, and a pastry. Come anytime– it’s open all day long 8am to midnight, 365 days a year.
This is one of the coziest atmospheres to eat in Milan. 28 Posti (28 Seats, the name says it all) is a contemporary bistrot in the heart of the Navigli where sustainability meets chic.
We love our home down on the Navigli but we’re the first to admit there’s a lot of crappy fake trattoria tourist traps. Thankfully this is not one of them.
La Pesa, as the Milanese call it, is one of Milan’s most-loved culinary spots and one of the oldest restaurants in town, placed right next to Corso Como’s buzzy nightlife.
Far from the hectic scene in the center of town, you can always find inner culinary peace in this classic trattoria that has been run by the Masuelli family for over 90 years.
If you’re looking to dodge dough-ball city, this casual charmer isn’t for you. Otherwise, indulge in rich deliciousness like trofie con pesto, and then waddle out to the bocce court in the back garden-meets-terrace area.
You have to ring a bell to enter this vintage inspired restaurant where no two plates, cups, glasses or forks are the same. It’s a bit pricey for what it is- simple, traditional, Italian food- and it is a bit off pieced from the city center but the experience is totally worth it.
For those who didn’t secure a table at the fashion-packed and over-priced Langosteria, there’s a simple and elegant alternative just down the street, complete with starched white tablecloths. Traditional Italian dishes like bollito and cotoletta come with an extensive wine list served by waiters from another era.
Not far from the Castello Sforzesco, this uber-Italian locale recalls the charm and minimal-chicness of a modern country locanda. It’s all about tradition plates such as gnocchi, salted codfish, and Piedmont beef and cheeses complemented by a simple but curated wine list.
Founded in 1947 by mid-century architectural gods Ignazio Gardella and Luigi Caccia Dominioni, this sophisticated little shop carries re-editions of classic pieces from the ’50s and ’60s. Known for iconic pieces from crescent-shaped velvet side chairs to sensationally simple brass doorknobs that populate top Milanese homes, Azucena is a humble altar for some of Italy’s most coveted design objects.
Antique, vintage and modern furnishings come together in a large, bright showroom that will inspire even ardent feng shui believers to re-do their entire home or office in the stile Italiano. Owner Garau has impeccable taste and presents jumbles of mixed-style chairs, tables, lamps and carpets in intriguing tableaux.
What was once an oversized ex-industrial space that kept Milan Design Empress Nina Yashar’s most treasured overflow of design loot is now a full-on, full-sized three-story exhibition and display space spanning 1,500 square metres. Off the beaten track but well worth the trek from the city center, it will satisfy both art and design palettes that appreciate the greats like Gio Ponti and Ettore Sotsass as well as newer stars such as Martino Gamper and Massimiliano Locatelli. More central is Yashar’s beloved mainstay spot on Via Della Spiga 32, with a more limited but still brilliantly curated selection.
If you’re from NYC, you’ve likely heard of Tyler Hays’ handsome, American-made furniture outpost there. His Milan venture, located in 5 Vie, a new creative slice of the city, boasts BDDW’s luxurious wood and leather-detailed furniture, great-looking carpets, kiln-fired ceramics and even handcrafted ping pong tables. Check out the gallery space and the Wait and See fashion boutique on same road.
Fornasetti is stuffed like an Aladdin’s cave, with re-edition booty from the surreal designer’s glittering mid-century career as well as newly designed items from his son Barnaba. There is pattern and product everywhere you look—let yourself get dizzy over the swirling cloud wallpaper, butterfly covered tables and trompe l’oeil umbrella stands.
Managed by two chic Italian sisters, this loft conversion opens onto a quintessentially Milanese courtyard and is full of seductive antique and modern furniture, lamps and decorative objects. It is more private lounge than dusty, over-crowded shop, and the vast selection of textiles could easily keep you busy shopping for the entire day.
This shop is the Minimalist’s Kryptonite—brimming with brilliantly colored glass pieces from super designer and Memphis leader Ettore Sottsass as well as blindingly-bright furniture from his contemporaries. It feels like a playground but design aficionados will appreciate the extent to which important pieces like the Carlton table and Rivolo chair are celebrated here as re-editions.
Owners Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci have skyrocketed to fame in the last few years, transforming their former home into one of the hottest design galleries in town. Their space in Brera functions as a showroom for their growing line of covetable furniture, which is artfully mixed with mid-century collectibles from the likes of Vico Magistretti and Gio Ponti. Luckily everything you see here is for sale; unluckily, it ain’t cheap.
Every ballerina from London to St. Petersburg knows the importance of a quality shoe, and this Milanese outpost has been outfitting La Scala’s ballerinas for years. Those who don’t know their plié from their pirouette, fear not: Porselli make a range of ballerina flats for normal life, and there’s no pre-requisite for being on point.
Those dashing about town at the pace of a Versace model may miss this amazingly old-school shop which is an architectural slice of life from the old days of Milan. The selection is impressive and overwhelming; bottles and vases stocked from marble floors to stuccoed ceilings. Insider’s tip: ask for a massage from the little-known treatment rooms in the back.
You already know that Italy is the place for great glasses, but here you can check out the whole history of it. Everything from old-school monocles to 60’s butterfly lenses to modern-day Valentinos– this dense little shop has it all, and will look even better through a fresh pair of frames.
The secret to steering one of Venice’s gondoliers? It’s all in the footwear. Stylish and comfortable, and dating back centuries, these velvet slippers (appropriate for outdoor wear and canal navigation) have become objects of desire thanks to Venetian sisters Viola and Vera Arrivabene, who say these soft shoes are also great for sneaking around a palazzo at night, should those be your needs.
Only the Italians would take the traditional shape and silhouette of the “fisherman’s lunch bag” and repackage it as a cute, totally practical day-to-day handbag. Soft, stripey cotton and sturdy leather handles make this the perfect carry-all for your work gear and equally cool for your seaside stash.
Dressing a child in Milan is not about playtime, so forget leggings and think small plaid suits, pintucked silk dresses, and proper tweed coats. Train that child for a role in the haute bourgeoisie with outfits fine enough that parents can just throw on sweatpants and still look like a success next to their angelic spawn.
This city’s full of architects, but there’s only one who’s designing jewelry that you can take home with you. This Québec transplant combines modernist minimalism and intense craft to make some highly conceptual anti-bling. Treat yourself to one of Jean’s artfully crafted, one-of-a-kind or limited edition pieces– preferably in gold. These pieces were made to last a lifetime, after all, and in Milan, you’ve got the chance to visit her only shop in the world, which just opened in 2014.
Pajamas may be the stuff of fashion right now, but in Milan, sleeping in proper PJs is as crucial as eating with a fork. At Casa del Bianco, they know you need the finest fabric and perfect sartorial details to climb into bed at peace, plus these jam jams make a hell of a street style outfit.
After checking out the impressive and thought-provoking exhibition in the museum’s main space, head upstairs for a light (and arguably pricey) meal in the fabulous new DesignCafé, which makes the entire Triennale experience a whole lot cooler. Or grab a quick but chic aperitivo on the garden terrace, where you can enjoy the view of Giorgio de Chirico’s Bagni Misteriosi, which finally has water in its fountains after 50 years.
As with many of Milan’s prized destinations, this temple of design requires a schlepp that will be duly rewarded. A total of 100 iconic design pieces from Italian and international masters tell the story of the last century, with important works from such icons as Achille Castiglioni, Arne Jacobsen and Charles Eames, and spanning movements from Art Nouveau to Memphis and Bauhaus.
One of the most prestigious addresses in Milan, the Museo Vigna di Leonardo finally opened to the public this year. This hot spot is where the great master Da Vinci lived while painting The Last Supper and where remnants of his vineyard were recently uncovered. Famed mid-century Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi restored the property in the 19th century, and this year saw the first re-planting of the grape that Leonardo himself used.
Leave it to Mr. Armani to turn a former Nestlé granary into a starkly designed, basilica-inspired space that now houses his fashion archive of over 40 years. Apart from the exhibition area currently showcasing over 300 garments and 200 accessories, the Silos has a digital archive of drawings, sketches and material dedicated to the Maestro of Minimalism, with a bespoke cataloging system.
Good things come to those who wait, and in this case Milan finally has a vast culture compound that puts the city in the global contemporary art big leagues. Expertly exhibited across 17 striking buildings designed by Rem Koolhaas are hundreds of modern and contemporary artworks from Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli’s private collection, including Damien Hirst, Louise Bourgeois and Robert Gober and pieces on loan from international art institutions. If wandering around the 19,000 square metres leaves you in need of fuel, enjoy an espresso (or cocktail) and a toasted panino at the Wes Anderson-designed canteen modeled on an old-school Milanese café.
Design buffs will surely enjoy an insiders visit to the studio of one of Milan’s most important furniture designers of the 20th century. Frozen since his death in 2002, the museum feels cozy and cluttered, just as if a genius was being interrupted mid-work on a masterpiece. Private tours of the space which include viewing sketches, models, prototypes, and personal effects are handled by the late architect’s wife and daughter.
We’re a sucker for a castle, especially the kind that do not require a 45 minute drive out of town. Milan’s Castello Sforzesco is smack in the city center–so obvious that most city visitors overlook it. Once the home to a 15th century Duke, the castle now boasts an enormous and varied collection of booty—art, antiques and objects– from the middle ages through the Renaissance and even a healthy dash of mummies and sarcophagi from ancient Egypt.
To ogle the best ceiling frescoes in town, swing into this magnificent 18th century palazzo that sits quietly on a narrow cobble stoned street in the city center. Painted by Tiepolo in 1740, the trompe l’oeil effect of the ceilings are, in two brief words, totally mesmerizing.