Lombardy food traditions and a classic northern Italian aesthetic are everywhere, but cosmopolitan appetites – currently for small plates, sushi and spritz cocktails – also drive this high-fashion hub.
11am At Rossi & Grassi (Via Solferino 12, www.rg.mi.it) pack yourself a gourmet picnic from the seductive deli counter (try the lentils with artichoke or arancini), or stock up on artisan cheese, dried porcini and homemade pasta.
12pm Gallerie d’Italia Piazza Scala (Piazza della Scala 6, gallerieditalia.com) is Milan’s newest gallery. An opulent former bank, it’s home to slashed canvases by Lucio Fontana and 200 other Italian works from Informalism to Pop Art, set around gilded bank-teller windows and former vaults.
1pm Its handful of tables and no reservations can make La Latteria (Via San Marco 24, 0039 2 659 7653) a tricky place to get a seat. But simple is sensational here: bottarga with juicy tomato, plump slices of goose roasted with potato, and a carafe of house wine costs €60 per person. (Mon to Fri only.)
2.30pm Head to Parco Sempione for a post-prandial stroll around Milan’s medieval Castello Sforzesco, then on to the Triennale di Milano design museum for slick Italian interior design and architecture (Viale Emilio Alemagna 6, triennale.it). Even in the café every table and chair is a piece of contemporary design.
5pm Window shop on Via della Spiga (Dolce & Gabanna’s new nexus for young designers, Spiga2, is worth an ogle) then stop for a coffee or Campari spritz (€4.50) at Piazzo del Duomo landmark, Camparino (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, camparino.it). At Excelsior (Galleria del Corso 4, excelsiormilano.com), Milan’s newest designer department store, the basement food hall sells boxes of white truffle and butter biscotti, €40.
6pm Have cocktails on the roof at La Rinascente, a department store with the best Duomo views in town (Via Santa Radegonda 3, rinascente.it). Drink an Aperol spritz, €8, within near-touching distance of the cathedral’s curling gothic spires. Inside, buy this season’s Bialetti Moka Alpina coffee pot, styled to look like an Italian Alpino mountain guard, complete with a neat feather-capped lid, €24.90.
8pm Dinner: under N’Ombra de Vin’s (Via San Marco 2, nombradevin.it) vaulted ceilings eat fish crostini, veal meatballs and burratina salad, plus a bottle from the 1,000-strong list, for €80 per head. At weekends, kitsch crooner acts encourage the polished crowd to push plates aside and dance on the tables.
Antica Locanda Solferino (Via Castelfidardo 2, anticalocandasolferino.it) has Italian ‘nona’ style décor, a good Milanese restaurant and double rooms from €175, B&B. Or try Townhouse Street Milan (Via Santa Radegonda 14, townhouse.it, above): the new apartment-hotel addition to the city’s Townhouse group has four architect-designed studios (with kitchens) from €165, room only.
10am Princi, the flagship bakery in Rocco Princi’s growing international empire, is still the flashiest and buzziest (Piazza 25 Aprile 5, princi.it). Cure foggy heads with a stracchino-filled focaccia (a Lombard cheese sarnie) and cappuccino, €7.
11am Cimitero Monumentale di Milano (Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale 1), a city of skyscraping tombs designed by some of Italy’s most revered sculptors, is an ecclesiastical alternative to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper at the tourist-thronged Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Still want to see the actual Last Supper? Then book a week in advance (cenacolovinciano.org).
12pm Hop on tram number 12 to the Naviglio, a neighbourhood of canals with a market stacked with mid-century Italian bric-a-brac (last Sunday of the month). Or try Milan’s outdoor food markets. At nearby Viale Papiniano’s you’ll find pungent cheese and fennel-scented salsiccia.
1pm Lunch at the playfully decorated Ponte Rosso (Ripa di Porta Ticinese 23, trattoriaponterosso.it) to eat puntarelle (winter chicory) with a punchy anchovy dressing and ‘stinco alla birra’ (beer-marinated ham hock) with Milanese saffron risotto. Find room for a glass of pistachio gelato. €50 a head, with an entry-price bottle of Lombardy red.
2.30 Climb Milan Cathedral (Via dell’Arcivescovado, duomomilano.it). One of Milan’s few truly touristy attractions, it’s breathtaking – both for the formidable stairs and the views. See the city under a web of buttresses, columns and spires, €7.
4pm At cavernous Enoteca Cotti (Via Solferino 42, enotecacotti.it) buy regional Italian wine ranging from a €10 chianti to a 15-year old-Barbaresco for €399. Staying at Antica Locanda Solferino? Make a quick bottle stop; it’s just opposite.
6pm Head north to 10 Corso Como (Corso Como 10, 10corsocomo.com), a design shop-cum-gallery-restaurant-hotel. Have a prosecco, €10, in the twinkly courtyard or, in summer,
the roof garden, and don’t miss the free art exhibitions.
8pm Tuck into Neapolitan pizza, cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded veal cutlet) and a carafe of house for around €30 per head at Da Rita e Antonio (Via G. Puccini 2/a, 0039 2 875 579). This is the perfect pre- or post-theatre dinner spot; Teatro dal Verme is next door, a more affordable experience than La Scala.
HOW TO GET THERE fly to Linate airport from £53 return (easyjet.com)
Photographs: ALAMY, Matteo Carassale/SIME/4Corners, Stefano Amantini/4Corners.Guido Baviera/SIME/4Corners
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