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 centred around the Piazza Duomo and Italy’s largest church, the striking Gothic Santa Maria Nascente. Here’s what I love best in my 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.
Aperitivi Camparino in Galleria
Gaspare Campari started serving his appetite-stimulating bitter aperitif in the beautiful neoclassical Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in 1915 – and the Italian tradition of aperitivi (pre-dinner drinks with nibbles) was born. Other establishments may offer a more elaborate array of snacks, but they don’t have this view of the Duomo!
Airport convenience aside, Carlo Cracco is what keeps me coming back to Milan! From classic risotto Milanese with grilled bone marrow to a reinvented Russian salad inside a thin caramel shell, his innovative cooking is firmly grounded in Italian tradition.
Shop Via Brera
Once you’ve exhausted the big name fashion shops of the Quadrilatero d’Oro (‘golden rectangle’ between Vie Spiga, Manzoni, Sant’Andrea and Montenapoleone), 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.
See Santa Maria presso San Satiro
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.