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Guide to Milan

Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region at the northern edge of Italy, is synonymous with haute couture as the home of many of Italy’s most desirable designer brands (think Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and so many more). Its stylish reputation goes back centuries—in the Middle Ages, Lombardy’s position at the base of Europe made it a convenient location for trade, and the flow of money and cross-cultural ideas entering the city inspired incredible artistic innovation. The city was the home of Leonardo da Vinci, whose ideas on art and science revolutionized the world. Today, Milan’s grand architecture still draws visitors from around the world; the Duomo, which took six centuries to complete, is a jaw-dropping wonder that must be seen to be believed.

Today, Milan is the country’s financial center, as well as a cultural hub. Modern skyscrapers share the skyline with neoclassical marble buildings like the La Scala opera house and the medieval Castello Sforzesco. In keeping with their history, Milanese love creativity and innovation in all fields, and some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants are decidedly avant-garde. Not surprisingly, it’s a shopper’s paradise, with an incredible selection of vintage shops that collect truly unforgettable designer pieces from years past. From the historic city center to artsy Brera to hip young Navigli, there’s a place in Milan for everyone.

Getting Around

Milan is home to Italy’s second largest international airport after Rome, Malpensa (MXP). You can find direct flights here from most major cities on the East Coast, as well as easy connections from most European hubs. The Malpensa Express train will take you from the airport to Milano Centrale station in about an hour, and it’s easily accessed from within the international terminal. From Centrale, it’s easy to grab a taxi at the stand outside to get to your hotel. 

Milan’s public transportation system, known as ATM, covers the whole city and comprises a metro, buses, and adorable old-fashioned trams. (Don’t get confused if you see signs marked “ATM” around the city—they’re not bank machines!) Metro stops are conveniently located near most of the major tourist attractions, so it’s an easy way to make the most of the city if you have limited time to see the sights. You can buy one-way or unlimited-ride tickets in metro stations or at newsstands. Be sure to hang on to your ticket once you’ve entered a metro station, because you’ll need to swipe it again to exit. Uber is also available and is widely used here, though prices may be higher than what you’re used to at home.

Eat

   Marchesi 1824

Marchesi 1824

This hidden gem in Milan’s oldest shopping center is a charming place for breakfast, with dainty pastries and an elegant coffee service. The mint-green interior is chic and ladylike—fitting, since it’s owned by Prada! Duck up a set of stairs next to the Prada boutique to get to the second-floor café, where you can look out arched windows onto the shoppers below.

Galleria Vittorio Emanulele II
+39 02 9418 1710

   Pasticceria Martesana

Pasticceria Martesana

For more than 50 years, this bakery has been making some of the best panettones in Milan using a Santoro family recipe, along with other gorgeous pastries, chocolates, and sweets like baci di dama cookies. Their award-winning panettones are available here year-round, so if you’ve got the craving but it’s not the holiday season yet, you’re in luck!

Corso di Porta Romana, 131
+39 02 6698 6634

   Pavè

Pavè

Photo Credit: Pavè

This café and bakery is a wonderful spot for a quick breakfast on the go, with top-notch espresso and gorgeously layered brioche (as croissants are called in Northern Italy) stuffed with apricot jam, chocolate, or ham and cheese.

Via Felice Casati 27

   10 Corso Como

Photo Credit: 10 Corso Como

For the perfect encapsulation of Milan’s fashionable spirit, this upscale concept store features beautiful clothes, gorgeous homewares, and stunning art installations—and delicious food! The plant-filled in-store café is a great spot for lunch, weekend brunch, or just a shopping break for espresso and a fabulous tiramisu.

Corso Como 10
+390229013581

   Ristorante a Santa Lucia

Ristorante a Santa Lucia

If you find yourself craving some veggies in between all those risottos and pastas during your stay in Milano, as Giada often does, you’ll find heaven at the antipasto bar at this comfortably old-school restaurant that feels virtually unchanged since its opening in 1929. The walls are lined with black-and-white portraits of film stars from days gone by, the waiters all wear impeccable white, and, yes, the pastas are great, too.

Via San Pietro All’Orto, 3
+39 02 7602 3155

   Bice

For the absolute best risotto alla milanese in the city, look no further than this nearly 100-year-old institution. Bice is a perennial favorite among locals who take their food seriously, and after one bite, you’ll agree. Tucked on a fashionable street in the city’s historic center, it’s the perfect dinner after a day of shopping, sightseeing, or both. 

Via Borgospesso, 12
+39 02 7600 2572

   Bacaro Montenapoleone

Bacaro Montenapoleone

Milan is known for its lush courtyards hidden behind nondescript, imposing palazzo doorways, a secret side of the city most don’t get to see. Peek behind the door at this hidden gem of a restaurant tucked away on a high-end shopping street next to a shop named, coincidentally, Giada! (No connection, we swear.) In the covered courtyard, enjoy beautiful seasonal vegetable dishes and pastas like handmade tagliatelle and lasagne. When Giada was there in spring, a highlight was a raw artichoke salad with walnuts.

Via Monte Napoleone, 13
+39 02 7600 5974

   Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone

Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone

Opened nearly 70 years ago as a simple salumi shop, this local institution has evolved over the years into an elegant, comfortable restaurant for traditional Milanese dishes. Come for lunch in the peaceful courtyard that feels like an extension of its neighbor, the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, to enjoy saffron-laced risotto alla Milanese and pastas like cappelletti with tomato and mozzarella.

Via Santo Spirito, 10
+39 02 7600 1123

   Al Porto

Al Porto Milan Italy

This traditional seafood restaurant has been serving specialties from Versilia, on the Tuscan coast, for more than 50 years. It’s located at the end of the Darsena reservoir in the Navigli neighborhood and overlooks a stunning garden in spring and summer. Stroll the area after your meal to soak in one of Milan’s prettiest neighborhoods.

Piazzale Antonio Cantore
+390289407425

   Da Giacomo

Da Giacomo

For a taste of the south of Italy when you’re in the north, this seafood-centric restaurant is a must. It’s one of Giada’s absolute favorites in a city full of fabulous restaurants, and she makes time to eat here whenever she’s in Milan. The zuppa di pesce has the most flavorful broth we’ve tasted, and pasta favorites like spaghetti con vongole and gnocchi were all perfection. The tiramisu is excellent, too!

Via Pasquale Sottocorno angolo Via Benvenuto Cellini
+390276023313

   Giacomo Bistrot

Giacomo Bistrot

Photo Credit: Giacomo Bistrot

Around the corner from Da Giacomo is its more casual little sister, with a lively atmosphere that feels like a little bit of Paris in Milan. Decked out like an old-fashioned club with plush red banquettes and walls of books, the bistro serves more meat-focused dishes. If you want a steak, this is the place to go!

Via Pasquale Sottocorno 6
+390276022653

   La Briciola

Photo Credit: La Briciola

At night, the dining room of this romantic local favorite is lit up with twinkling lights among faux trees and floral garlands, giving the magical feeling of dining under the stars even in the worst weather. Be sure to try one of the many carpaccios, as well as traditional Milanese dishes like risotto and cutlet alla Milanese.

Via Marsala 1
+39026551012

   La Libera

La Libera Milan Italy

In the artsy Brera district in the city’s historic center, this brewery-turned-trattoria serves delicious traditional dishes like risotto al salto, a crispy rice dish Giada’s mom used to make, and housemade buckwheat pasta with veal ragu. It’s worth a visit alone for the irresistibly thin Sicilian crackers they serve before the meal!

Via Palermo 21
+39028053603

   Trattoria del Nuovo Macello

Trattoria del Nuovo Macello

Photo Credit: Trattoria del Nuovo Macello

If you’re looking for Milanese classics, this rustic trattoria offers a 50-Euro set menu of the city’s greatest hits, covering typical antipasti, saffron-tinted risotto, and a perfectly crisp cutlet alla Milanese, plus coffee and dessert!

Via Cesare Lombroso 20
+390259902122

   Trattoria la Pesa 1902

Trattoria la Pesa 1902

Photo Credit: Trattoria la Pesa 1902

For traditional Milanese dishes like mondeghili (fried meatballs), cutlet alla Milanese, and the rustic tripe stew called busecca, you can’t do better than this comfortable 120-year-old neighborhood trattoria.

Via Giovanni Fantoni 26
+390236514525

   Altatto Bistrot

Altatto Bistrot

Photo Credit: Altatto Bistrot

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, enthusiastic locals flood into this sleek, spare restaurant in a former bakery to taste the latest creations from three young women chefs (Sara Nicolosi, Cinzia De Lauri and Giulia Scialanga) who are doing amazing things with seasonal vegetables. Their all-vegetarian, sometimes vegan tasting menus might include tempura-fried local mushrooms or grilled artichokes, and always start with the best housemade breads.

Via Comune Antico, 15
+39 328 664 1670

   Bon Wei

Bon Wei

Photo Credit: Bon Wei

Milan may be Italy’s most multicultural city, and its international restaurants can be just as exciting as the Italian classics we know and love. A favorite among locals is Bon Wei, which serves traditional Chinese fine dining in a sleek, elegant room. Enjoy beautifully composed dishes with fresh seafood, beautiful dumplings, and housemade noodles and bask in the cosmopolitan glamour of Milan.

Via Castelvetro, 16/18
+39 02 341 308

   Ratanà

Ratanà

In the cool, modern Isola neighborhood, this restaurant serves contemporary takes on Milanese classics. Try one of their variations on risotto alla milanese, or a fresh cavatelli with spring peas and mint. Walk off the meal with a stroll around the area to marvel at the wild architecture, including the greenery-covered Bosco Verticale (“Vertical Forest”).

Via Gaetano de Castillia, 28
+32 02 8712 8855

   Cittamani

Cittamani

Photo Credit: Cittamani

In a warm, earthy room, chef Ritu Dalmia is combining Italian sensibilities with traditional Indian dishes at this exciting restaurant. Her flavors are always incredible, and the Italian wine list to accompany them is thrilling in its own right! It’s a unique experience you could only have in Milan.

Piazza Mirabello, 5
+39 02 3824 0935

   Seta

Seta

Photo Credit: Seta

Milan has many Michelin stars, and two of them belong to this fine-dining experience in the Mandarin Oriental hotel led by chef Antonio Guida. Choose one of the tasting menus for a tour of his creative imagination, whether you go with the menu dedicated to crustaceans or the one inspired by the design house Fornasetti. If risotto is on the menu, you’re in for a real treat!

Via Andegari, 9
+39 02 8731 8897

   Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia

Il Luogo di Amio e Nadia

With two Michelin stars, this 60-year-old institution offering impeccably updated classics via tasting menu feels fresh and modern. Run by the daughter of the original owners, Aimo and Nadia, the dining room been updated to a clean, contemporary space that lets dishes like ossobuco-stuffed tortelli, tomatoes with wild strawberries, and cuttlefish ravioli shine.

Via Privata Raimondo Montecuccoli, 6
+3902416886

   Caffe Camparino

Giada at Caffe Camparino

The vibe at this historic bar feels right out of an old movie—the bartenders all wear white suits and bowties, and the back bar is lined with ruby-red bottles of Campari, Milan’s most famous invention. It’s virtually unchanged since the 1860s, when the Milano-Torino cocktail, a predecessor of the negroni, was invented here.

Piazza Duomo 21
+390286464435

   Ceresio 7

Ceresio 7

Photo Credit: Ceresio 7

On the rooftop of the designer brand Dsquared2’s headquarters, this unique spot with amazing views of the city features two sparkling swimming pools, a world-class cocktail bar, and an airy restaurant for indoor or outdoor dining.

Via Ceresio 7
+390231039221

   White Rabbit

White Rabbit

To get into this fun speakeasy, you’ll need to submit a request on their website to receive the password, then ring the bell by an anonymous shop window when the light is on. Inside, you’ll find live music, a throwback Prohibition-era vibe, and well-made, creative cocktails.

Via Garigliano 4
+393402781263

   Peck

Peck

Photo Credit: Peck

Inside this gourmet food and wine shop is a hidden secret: some of the best gelato in Milan! Even though it’s just a few blocks from the Duomo, there are no lines of tourists waiting to get their scoops here—just you and the other locals who know this is the place to go for fresh, seasonal flavors like . While you’re here, browse the deli cases and amazing selection of cheese and salumi, too.

Via Spadari, 9
+39 02 802 3161

   Cerdini & Quenardel

Cerdini & Quenardel

If there’s a better combination in the world than Champagne and gelato, we haven’t heard it. Find them both at this uniquely charming shop which has been in business since 1906. Be sure to try one of the fruit-flavored sorbettos made with their own Champagne, as well as the decadently ultra-dark chocolate gelato.

Via Cusani, 10
+39 02 8413 1232

   Ciacco Gelato

Ciacco Gelato

You may wait a while for your gelato here, but we promise it’s worth it. This ultra-modern shop uses creative techniques and ingredients to continually surprise and delight their many fans—they recently launched a barrel-aged gelato. Fresh fruit comes from the region around Parma, where they also have a shop, and is hand-selected for the absolute best flavor.

Via Spadari, 13
+39 02 3966 3592

Do

   Corso Garibaldi

Stroll this narrow street near the Brera neighborhood to get a laid-back taste of Milan’s culture without the big-city hustle and bustle. Local designers’ boutiques, trattorias, and art galleries line the half-mile stretch where you’ll also catch a glimpse of ancient architecture in the Basilica di San Simpliciano, which has existed here in various forms since the 4th century.

Corso Garibaldi

   Duomo di Milano

Giada de Laurentiis at Duomo di Milano Milan Italy

One of the most iconic buildings in Italy, this 600-year-old masterpiece of gothic architecture is made of a rare pink-streaked marble found only in the Alps. Its more than 3,000 statues, intricate arches, and pointed spires are impossible to miss if you’re walking through Milan’s historic city center. You can tour the interior for a small fee, but to really appreciate this layer cake of a building, pay the extra fee to climb the 250 steps up to the rooftop.

Piazza del Duomo
+390272023375

   Fornasetti Flagship Store

Fornasetti Flagship Store

Design lovers can’t miss a stop at the flagship of this iconic Italian brand founded by Piero Fornasetti in the 1940s. His housewares are instantly recognizable for their surrealist humor, collage-style imagery, and the black-and-white face of opera singer Lina Cavalieri that decorates everything from vases to cabinets. The shop is part archival museum, part laboratory for what’s new and next, and a total joy to visit. You’re sure to find a unique piece here to join your collection.

Corso Venezia, 21A
+39 02 8416 1374

   Galleria Rossana Orlandi

Galleria Rossana Orlandi

Milan’s style pedigree goes way beyond fashion, featuring furniture, art, and housewares that are truly breathtaking in their originality. See the best of what’s new at this impeccably curated gallery based in a former tie factory with a stunning grape vine-covered courtyard. The space is by appointment only; email ahead to book your visit.

Via Matteo Bandello, 14
+39 02 467 4471

   Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Italy’s first shopping mall, this stunning building with mosaic tiling and a vaulted cast iron and glass roof is a Milan icon. Nicknamed il salotto di Milano (Milan’s sitting room), it’s been a meeting place for Milanese for nearly 150 years. It’s home to the first Prada store ever, which opened in 1913, along with boutiques for basically every high-end Italian designer. Dining options range from casual cafés to Michelin-starred restaurants, making sure there’s something for every taste.

Piazza del Duomo

   Guided Tour With Elizabeth Jones

Giada With Elizabeth Jones

For a true insider food experience, reach out to our friend Elizabeth to join one of her guided walking tours that cover everything from pizza to natural wines. An American writer based in Milan, she can also build you a tour tailored to your interests in Milan and Northern Italy and offers custom travel design throughout Italy.

Around Milan

   Guido Gobino

Giada de Laurentiis at Guido Gobino Store Milan Italy

This outpost of the famous artisan chocolate shop from Turin has plenty of incredible souvenirs to choose from, but the real draw is something you must experience there: a cup of their extra-dark hot chocolate. So thick and rich you can eat it with a spoon, this decadent drink is made with ground chocolate instead of just cocoa powder, making it a decadent treat.

Corso Magenta 36
+39028057463

   Museo Bagatti Valsecchi

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi

Photo Credit: Museo Bagatti Valsecchi

This incredible historic house-turned-museum offers a unique chance to travel through time. Inhabited until the 1970s, its remarkable collection includes Renaissance art, furniture, suits of armor, and relics of everyday life. Use the free audio tour, narrated by a member of the Valsecchi family, to appreciate the layers of Milanese life hiding within its walls (literally! Hidden bathrooms were added to the building when indoor plumbing was invented). Make sure to stay for lunch at Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone in the building’s courtyard.

Via Gesù, 5
+39 02 7600 6132

   Milano Centrale Station

Milano Centrale Station

Photo Credit: Milano Centrale Station

If you’re traveling through Italy by train, you’ll end up at this grand 1934 building that’s the second-largest station in the country, after Rome. Its imposing fascist-era architecture of marble, glass, and steel is impressive, but the real draw is the Bistrot Centrale, a large marketplace with food stalls serving panini, pastries, and other on-the-go goodies plus locally produced foods that make great souvenirs.

Piazza Duca d’Aosta 1

   Seletti

Seletti

Photo Credit: Seletti

The flagship location of this funky shop stocks incredible surrealist homewares that blur the line between art and utility. Browsing here is like walking through a modern art gallery—except you can also bring the art home, like gold-plated espresso cups or ancient art-inspired placemats, for a uniquely Milan souvenir.

Corso Garibaldi 117
+3902653466

   Tearose

Tearose

Photo Credit: Tearose

This gorgeous concept shop combines flowers, clothing, accessories, and fragrances for a retail experience unlike any other. It’s always fun to browse the hand-picked selection of clothes from local designers and international brands surrounded by pretty floral arrangements and home décor items. They also plan stunning private events, if you’re lucky enough to be throwing a party in Milan!

Via Croce Rossa 2
+390286998767

   The Last Supper at Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Last Supper at Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Renaissance-era Dominican convent and church is famous as the home of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, located in the refectory just to the left of the church entrance. The fragile artwork is managed by a separate museum authority, so be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time to ensure you can get in. And don’t skip a visit to the rest of the church, which has more stunning frescoes from other artists of the period.

Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie 2
+390292800360

   Villa Necchi Campiglio

Villa Necchi Campiglio

The Necchi family built this home near the Duomo in 1935 as their status as wealthy industrialists grew, resulting in a gorgeous mix of modern rationalist and fashionable Louis XV style. They also built the first private swimming pool in Milan, surrounded by gorgeous gardens you can stroll today. House of Gucci fans should tour the interior to see the rooms that played Gucci family residences, but any visitor will love the peaceful garden for a break from the bustle of the city.

Via Mozart, 14
+39 02 7634 0121

Stay

   Casa Baglioni

Casa Baglioni

Photo Credit: Casa Baglioni

In the stylish Brera district, this midcentury-inspired boutique hotel in a 1913 townhouse will have you feeling like a Milanese local circa 1960. Wood paneling, sleek brass, and muted navy accents all make the rooms cool and comfortable, while the hotel is also now the home of the beloved Michelin-starred restaurant Sadler.

Via dei Giardini 21
+390236661960

   Grand Hotel et de Milan

Grand Hotel et de Milan

Photo Credit: Grand Hotel et de Milan

Stay in old-fashioned luxury at this 150-year-old five-star hotel in the Montenapoleone neighborhood, close to many of the city’s historic sights. The high-ceilinged rooms are chic and comfortable, decorated with antiques and lush wallpaper and tapestries to feel extra indulgent. It’s also steps away from a Metro station, making it extra convenient for getting around town. 

Via Alessandro Manzoni, 29
+39 02 723 141

   Portrait Milano

Photo Credit: Portrait Milano

The latest opening from the Ferragamo family, this new boutique hotel is as stylish as you could hope. Built in a converted former seminary from the 16th century, it has a timeless modern feeling with crisp linens, Carrera marble bathrooms, and bold accent colors. Sip a morning cappuccino or evening aperitivo on the piazza, and take a dip in the pool in the ancient vaults. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, stop in for a cocktail or dessert outside to enjoy the atmosphere.

Corso Venezia 11
+390250043661

   Principe di Savoia

Principe di Savoia

Photo Credit: Principe di Savoia

For some classic Milan charm, the city’s long-standing premier luxury hotel doesn’t disappoint. With jewel-toned velvet upholstery, damask wallpapers, and mahogany furnishings, the rooms exude a bygone glamour that feels like a step back in time. Don’t miss breakfast in the sunny restaurant overlooking the lush gardens.

Piazza della Repubblica 17
+390291387010

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