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The Milan City Guide

A guide to some of the best Italian eateries, killer views and must-visit spots in Milan

WHERE — Milan
PHOTOGRAPHY — Sam Flaherty

Think of this as your little black book to some of best spots in this Italian city.

Despite visiting Milano a number of times I’ve never quite wrapped my head around the city. I love intense Italian energy (and of course their pizza) but there’s no doubt that Milan is a city that can only be experienced once you have a little inside knowledge.

So in the name of exploring Milan, Sam and I tackled almost the entirety of Fashion Week on foot. Most days we clocked up about 14km heading to shows, presentations and shoots across the city. It’s no secret that walking is the best way to truly discover a city, and we definitely covered some ground.

And in the name of research, we stopped off at plenty of places along the way, my favourites of which I’ve compiled below. It’s no way a comprehensive list, but a good place to get started if you’re headed to Milan.

Get Your Culture Fix

At Fondazione Prada. Possibly the best spot in Milan to wile an afternoon away, this art and culture institution has an impressive line up of exhibitions and artists on it’s books. The main building is covered with an impressive gold foiling (24-karat gold leaf), and just to top it all off, the café attached to the front of the building was designed by Wes Anderson. Enough said.

Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 2 20139, Milano

For Authentic Pizza Just Like It Should Be

Head to Pizza AM. Nothing fancy, this little pizzeria is the real deal. There’s usually a fair wait for a table (no bookings) however given that the super friendly host dishes out glasses of prosecco and a slice of pizza on arrival, it’s well worth the wait.

Pizza AM, Corso di Porta Romana, 83, Milano

When You Need a Break From Pizza

Head to Mantra Raw Vegan. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s vegan (and raw); the food here is genuinely delicious. Although to be fair you could come here for the drinks alone – if you were ever going to be impressed by a smoothie, their frawpuccino would be it.

Raw Mantra Vegan, Via Panfilo Castaldi, 21, Milano

Satisfy Your Inner Carnivore

Make a booking at El Porteno and enjoy an evening of unadulterated meat-eating. Cooked in an open-plan traditional Argentinian style grill, these guys prepare hunks of steak to impress.

Where to Find The Best Gelato

Chateau Dufan is a slightly confusing set-up, it’s basically a gelato store meets bubble-tea shop, attached to a ramen restaurant (also by the same name). But don’t let that put you off, the gelato and ice-cream here is in a league of it’s own.

Chateau Dufan, Via Paolo Sarpi, 2, 20154 Milano MI

For Instagram-Worthy Brunch or Drinks

With it’s white-washed space and lush plant wall, it’s clear that oTTo got the Instagram memo. The food is fresh – and a nice fusion of modern and traditional – their specialty is the brunch and charcuterie boards, which is perfect if you want to sample a few dishes and have an array of sides.

oTTo, Via Paolo Sarpi, 8, 20154 Milano MI

For Drinks With The Ultimate Milanese View

Il Bar is the spot. It’s a little hard to find; head inside La Rinascente department store, take the escalator all the way to the top where you’ll find the rooftop terrace overlooking the Duomo.

La Rinascente, Via Santa Radegonda, 1, 20121 Milano MI

If You’re in Search Of Single Origin Coffee

If you appreciate good coffee, make a beeline for ORSONERO COFFEE. Apparently is the only single origin coffee shop in the entire city, so it’s worth hunting down.

ORSONERO COFFEE, Via Giuseppe Broggi, 15, 20129 Milano MI

For Homemade Italian food With Canal Views

And a casual vibe, head to Napoli 1820. Think pizza the way it should be, generous salads, fresh calamari or homemade meatballs. Take your pick.

Napoli 1820, Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 62, 20144 Milano

Where To Stay

Now this is the eternal question. My criteria is usually the following: enough room to comfortably open two suitscases, reliable wifi, walking distance to at least a few key spots and restaurants, and affordable. I’m yet to find this magic equation in Milan, so if you have any tips, let me know of on Instagram.

Hotel VIU Milan is a relatively new spot that offers modern rooms (some with chic balconies), stylish interiors, a decent restaurant and, most impressively, a panoramic rooftop terrace with a small swimming pool and bar. The only catch is the location may not be ideal for a Milan first-timer. VIU is in Chinatown – an area I love and enjoy staying in (plus there’s excellent Thai and Vietnamese food). It may not be super convenient for all the usual cultural spots listed in your guide book, but it’s definitely one of the more wallet-friendly options available.

Via Aristotile Fioravanti, 6, 20154 Milano MI

Maison Borella, situated right on the canal in Naviglio is a boutique hotel with a super cute courtyard and thoughtfully decorated rooms. I think it’s safe to say Naviglio is almost every visitors favourite area of Milan and the staff here are really lovely.

Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 8, 20144 Milano MI

If you’re looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, Concoct Milano offers super chic rooms and apartments; think wooden floors, polished concrete, minimally designed spacious rooms and a cute courtyard. It’s slightly out of the city (also in Chinatown) but it’s also excellent value.

Concoct Milano, Via Arnolfo di Cambio, 8, 20154 Milano MI

For Local, Thoughtfully Produced Fare

u barba is a Ligurian restaurant which focuses on seasonal fare offers fresh, thoughtfully produced food with cool interiors and friendly service. Extra points for the courtyard and petanque out the back. They also have craft beer and plenty of veg-friendly options – which can be hard to come by in Milan.

u barba, Via Pier Candido Decembrio, 33, 20137

The Perfect Spot For An Aperitif

Situated right on the canal, Mag Cafè is a local haunt, despite being smack bang in the middle of tourist heaven. The ideal spot to grab a spritz and a snack and enjoy the serenity of Naviglio.

Mag Cafè, Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 43, 20143 Milano

Getting Around

Unfortunately the rumours about Italian taxi’s being extortionate are all true (a driver informed us this time around that the meter starts from when you call the cab, not when when it arrives – which explained countless overpriced rides where I always wondered where the fee came from).

There’s no Uber, and you can’t hail a cab, so your best bet is to either download Auto Radio Taxi app (the rule above about the meter starting straight away still applies soz) or asking a local where the nearest taxi stand is.

Despite my first world woes about taxis above, my point is actually that you’re best to rely on public transport. The tram and metro system in Milan is efficient and easy to use; even for an outsider. You can buy a 10 trip card from an metro station or tabac/newsagent. Too easy.

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