Now that I’ve lived in Milan for about three full months, I would like to think I know a little bit about the city and its local culture. So, I’ll take this blog opportunity to share with you: “Diego’s 10 Top Spots in Milan.” Ten quick and easy recommendations in case you ever find yourself in Milan and don’t know what to do! Here goes!
For Lunch: Luini’s. So you’re right by the Duomo, you’ve marveled at its beauty, but now you’re hungry. Looking around, your options are Burger King or a cart vendor. Fear not, because if you just walk a short distance past La Rinascente you’ll discover Luini’s Panzerotti. Wait in line (yes, there will ALWAYS be a line) for these heavenly mini-calzones of either sweet or savory flavors. Get an assortment of 2 or 3 flavors, plop down on the steps of the Duomo, and people-watch.
For Aperitivo: Manhattan. When 6 or 7PM rolls around and your stomach starts growling, most dinner places won’t be open yet. This is when the people of Milan enjoy the wonderful tradition of Aperitivo, which allows one to transition from a hard day at work to a relaxing dinner with a snack and a cocktail. However over time, “a snack” has turned into “an all-you-can-eat-meal.” If you find a place that serves pasta, meat, and pizza like Manhattan in the Navigli, take advantage of the deal (you pay for your cocktail and the food is free).
For Dinner: Portobello. Right by the Lima Metro station, Portobello definitely doesn’t look like much. But stop your whining and order the food. It’s true, simple Italian basics done the right way. Whether it’s pasta, pizza, or seafood you won’t be disappointed. A casual, authentic, friendly Italian environment for excellent prices as well. Oh, and get the tiramisu. Even if you’re full, get the tiramisu.
For Dessert: Rinomata Gelateria. So you survived dinner and somehow managed to escape with room in your stomach. Take the metro to Porta Genova and walk the short distance to where the two canals meet. There you’ll find Rinomata Gelateria, with the walls lined with shelves of ice cream cones. Most gelaterie around Milan are good, but this one is great. It’s hard to pick bad flavors, but my favorite combo is banana with cinnamon (cannela).
For Dancing: Alcatraz. With all these calories, you’ll need to do a serious workout tomorrow to compensate. Get a head-start on the cardio by hitting a great club, like Alcatraz. Most of the trendiest clubs in Milan are small and packed, but not Alcatraz. Situated in what seems like a renovated warehouse, you can enjoy the space and breathe or dive into the middle of the crowds. With three distinct dancing areas and a bar in each one, Alcatraz is a place to party from start to finish. Keep an eye on their website, as they also host great concerts from time to time.
For Design: Spazio Rossana Orlandi. Let’s work through the hangover and take things easy. Beautiful design just makes everything better, so head on over to Spazio Rossana Orlandi, the best showroom in town. Featuring the newest innovations and trends in design, this space is sure to inspire. Keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s hot in design by spending time marveling at the various exhibitions and events that come through. A definite must for anyone who is in a creative field, or who could just use some creative energy.
For Art: Galleria Carla Sozzani. While we’re using that right-side of the brain, head to Galleria Carla Sozzani for a taste of fine art. Within the incredible Corso Como 10, there is Franca Sozzani’s domain of fashion and Carla Sozzani’s domain of art. Between Spazio Rossana Orlandi and Corso Como 10, you will be completely educated on what is not only current, but what is next in design, fashion, and art. The shows at Galleria Carla Sozzani change roughly once a month and showcase the most talented and important photographers, with occasional exhibitions dedicated to architecture and design. Make sure you stop by the bookstore’s incredible collection so you can take a little piece of the art home with you.
For Shopping: Corso Vittorio Emanuele. With some culture under your belt and a fresh knowledge of the latest trends, it’s time to go shopping. Most people are intimidated by the famous street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele which is right behind the Duomo. However, if you know which stores are affordable and which stores are best for just browsing, you don’t have to fear for any Pretty Woman moments. Mid-market stores like & Other Stories and COS sell unique pieces for affordable prices. Even if you’re paying more than you’re used to, realize that you’re getting your money’s worth in terms of the quality of the material and design. The street is also good for checking out the flagships of more common stores like ZARA, H&M, and United Colors of Benetton, which carry more merchandise than their average store. Finally, remember you are free to walk into any store, no matter how high-end; so don’t be afraid to just browse and admire in the high-end stores. Milan is a fashion capital of the world, so the stores are truly remarkable and worth visiting.
For History: The Last Supper. Alright so you’ve seen what’s new and what’s next, how about we look to the past for the next stop. One of the must-see stops in Milan is of course da Vinci’s Last Supper. However, seeing one of the most legendary pieces of history in existence is barely satisfying during a normal visit, which is limited to a 15 minute time frame before the next group is ushered in. Instead, sign up online for the “Last Supper Experience” through the group Leonardo A Milano. The knowledgeable staff will teach you about the details and symbols of the work of art and then lead you in physically re-creating the scene of the Last Supper. With a rich understanding of da Vinci’s masterpiece, the 15 minute visit will be much more satisfying and enriching.
For a Sunny Day: Parco Sempione. Your wallet may be empty, but the last stop on this list doesn’t cost a penny. If the sun is out, pack a panino, grab a blanket, and head over to Parco Sempione. Whether you’re on your own with a good book, or playing frisbee with a few friends, this park is a perfect way to enjoy the sunshine of Milan. Walk around the ponds or sit on a bench and watch all the local dogs play. A guaranteed way to get a tan while observing the little pleasures of life.
Diego is a student at San Francisco Art Institute studying at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti during the Spring 2014 term.