Milan, Italy’s second largest city, is such a convenient spot to fly in and out of – and there’s that unforgettably breathtaking view of The Alps as you drive towards Malpensa Airport.
But I really don’t enjoy large cities, so my solution is to keep ‘my Milan’ very small, more a village that I can walk around, centred on the Piazza Duomo and Italy’s largest church, the striking Gothic Santa Maria Nascente. Here’s my walking food tour of Milan.
Stay STRAF hotel & bar
Step outside this edgy hotel, look right and there’s an imposing side wall of the Duomo. The largely black rooms are small but well-designed for comfort and function, while slate, burnished brass and wood add warmth. Service is personal, the breakfast buffet generous and it’s a maximum 5 minutes’ walk to everywhere I want to go.
Aperitivo Camparino in Galleria
Gaspare Campari started serving his bitter aperitif in the beautiful neoclassical Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in 1915 – and the tradition of aperitivi (pre-dinner drinks with nibbles) was born. Other places may offer a more elaborate array of snacks, but they don’t have this view of the Duomo and I always head here for aperitivi during my walking tour of Milan.
Airport convenience aside, Carlo Cracco is what keeps me coming back to Milan! His innovative cooking is firmly grounded in Italian tradition, from classic risotto Milanese with grilled bone marrow (pictured above) to a reinvented Russian salad inside a thin caramel shell and his clever frozen dessert riffing on old-fashioned gelato in fruit shells.
Shop Via Brera
I know we’re on a walking food tour, but in Milan we need a little fashion. I skip the big name shops of the Quadrilatero d’Oro and stroll the quiet, narrow streets around Via Brera, filled with everything from galleries to feather quills for calligraphy and great deals on second-hand Louboutins. Then have a coffee at the glorious Caffè Fernanda!
Culture Santa Maria presso San Satiro
And as I’m walking past anyway, I always pop in to see Bramante’s trompe l’oeil behind the altar of this small church set back from the road between the chain shops on Via Torino (without crowds, appointment or charge). Clever use of fresco and stucco creates the illusion of a deep transept in a space of less than one metre.
Updated 29 Dec 2023