ODP Adventures - Milan City Guide


Always known as the fashion capital of Italy, Milan has been gaining momentum over the past years as a new hotspot of acclaimed restaurants, buzzing nightlife, and internationally-renowned design. During this edition of the Salone del Mobile, commonly referred to as Milan Design Week and the best week of the year to visit Milan, we are happy to share some of our favorites spots below:

Grab a bite:

La BriciolaThe enchanting atmosphere and the risotto alla milanese have made this a classic for the past 40 years. Reserve ahead as it is the place to see-and-be-seen during fashion and design weeks.

Petit Bistrot.  Classic Italian peppered with an international flavors in a lively and friendly atmosphere. A great choice also for brunch, and just “due passi” from Piazza Gae Aulenti, recently lauded as one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, and the Bosco Verticale towers.

Giacomo Bistrot. Cozy and elegant, with an old-world feel but never feeling too reserved or impersonal. Usually after dinner everyone ends up chatting at the bar area, so don't go if you are rushed for time... this experience , just like their exquisite menu, is meant to be savored and enjoyed.

Apollo Club. Recently opened near the trendy Navigli area, Apollo manages to combine an elegant restaurant, hip bistrot, gameroom (complete with a ping-pong table and pinball machines), AND a dance club... all in one “locale”. The vintage-feel restaurant offers a new twist on classic Italian, while the bistrot area serves up some of the best hamburgers in Milan with a unique cocktail menu.

Lubar. After years of serving their Sicilian streetfood specialities from chic Italian-style food-trucks, the Bonaccorsi siblings have given roots to their culinary delights in the “caffetteria” of the Galleria di Arte Moderna. Although hardly your usual caffetteria, with the lush greenery and exquisitely curated décor, sourced from around the world (such as the beautiful ceramic dishes from their native Sicily). It is easy to see that a great aesthetic runs in the family, as the children of Luisa Beccaria Bonaccorsi, famed designer behind the gorgeous floral pret-a-porter creations of Luisa Beccaria.

El Tombon de San Marc. Time seems to stand still here with the art-deco atmosphere. It fills up quickly at lunchtime, as the classic fare is a favorite for business lunches, but it is also great for a quiet spot to read the newspaper with a cappuccino.

Caffe Napoli.  For the best coffee in town, head to one of these popular cafes (which are rapidly popping up around the city). Although their menu boasts many variations, the cult choice is the simple “caffe”, served Napoletano-style with a spoonful of the whipped coffee crème and sugar, which should be slowly stirred into the coffee before drinking (note: if you do not want the addition of the sweet whipped coffee crème, you must specify before ordering).

Aperitivo”, Milanese style:

Fioraio Bianchi. A flower-shop-turned-bar and bistro, this is definitely a favorite for all in the area. Go early to grab a table, or nudge your way into a space at the bar, and act like a local stirring up some conversation and a drink with the barmen.

Where to stay:

Hotel Viu.  A new hotel with one of the most spectacular roof-top pools in the city. Try to reserve one of the rooms with a private balcony.

Hotel Fifty House.  Milan's newest boutique luxury hotel, with an intimate bar and beautiful summer courtyard.

The Yard:  Thirty-two uniquely-decorated suites in one of the best areas of Milan. Each suite boasts a different sporting theme, and the breakfast is served in cute individual baskets.

Where to shop:

Milaura: Laura Poretti's concept store in Brera stocking gift items and clothing from European designers such as Lemaire and Dusan, in addition to her own line of wardrobe staples such as colorful trousers and striped sweaters, all made at top Italian factories.

Imarika:  A colorful mix of both established and up-and-coming brands.  If you see it here, you will definitely see it soon on streetstyle stars:  the owners' selection is always spot-on and way before-the-trend.  

Wait and See:   Uberta Zambelletti, Milan's noted cool-hunter, offers an eclectic mix of clothing, jewelry, and shoes from Italy's up-and-coming designers. Nestled in the adorable “Cinque Vie” neighborhood just a short walk from the Duomo, the boutique has also become a go-to for picking up fun accessories and gadgets perosonalized with Uberta's motto: “La vita è bella”.

LaDoubleJ: Shop the vibrant clothing and housewares from LaDoubleJ, created by American-turned-Milanese printmaster and streetstyle star JJ Martin, who has has teamed up with historic Italian companies such as Mantero, Kartell, Salviati to create modern collections inspired by vintage prints.  Shop some of our exclusive ODP for LaDoubleJ pieces HERE. (Note that during design and fashion weeks, the showroom is open to the public, but during the rest of the year best to make an appointment).

Must Sees:

Walk on the roof of the Duomo, which offers stunning views of the city.

Admire the live Flamingos living happily in their Milanese courtyard at Villa Invernizzi, Via Cappuccini 7, as well as the majestic architecture in this classic milanese "quartiere". 

Turn back time at Villa Necchi, a private residence now open to the public, perfectly preserving the décor and even some of the wardrobes from the 1930s.  The 2009 film I Am Love was filmed here. 

Fondazione Prada hosts the most talked-about contemporary art exhibitions, while the Wes Anderson-designed Bar Luce is always instagram-worthy.

Explore the tiny streets of Brera, which feels like a small village in itself, and peek inside the Orto Botanico (botanical gardens), where you can take a peaceful break among the greenery.  

Clockwise from left:  Orto Botanico, Flamingos inside Villa Invernizzi, the UniCredit Tower near Piazza Gae Aulenti, Lubar

Top photo:  quiet street in Brera