A local's guide to Milan
If you are planning to visit 2018 Milan Design Week - or Milan anytime - finding the best places to stay, eat and drink is not always easy. Guide books and websites often list all the same places and are not always where the locals go.
To help you avoid the tourist trail and discover some of the hidden gems in Milan, Sara Loi, Bondi Wash European Brand Manager, a born and bred Milanese, has pulled together her list of where to eat, drink and stay to help you experience Milan like a local.
WHERE TO EAT
Pisco – Located in the historical district of ‘Arco della Pace’, Pisco Milan offers fresh seafood courses of the Italian tradition. The design of the restaurant is inspired by the beautiful islands of Ischia and Capri with ceramics, retro’ style chairs, rattan chandeliers and open kitchen. A Bondi Wash team favourite.
Al Fresco – If you are lucky enough to enjoy warm and sunny spring days you can’t miss this place. Located in Tortona district, where most of the ‘Fuorisalone’ events take place, this beautiful restaurant has been realised from an early 1900s renovated factory. The atmosphere is unique and bohemian but the real crown jewel is the enchanting garden. The kitchen is characterised by seasonal products and tastes of the Mediterranean re-invented in a modern way.
Iyo – Iyo Milan was the very first foreign restaurant in Italy to win a Michelin Star and it is definitely worth a visit. What makes this restaurant so special is the fascinating encounter between the Japanese cuisine with the Italian tradition. Sara recommends the staff guide you through a tasting menu but most of all to book in advance, they have a very long waiting list!
Ba – The Chinese family who owns Ba Asian Mood knows how to make dinner a real experience. Surrounded by a sophisticated and elegant dining hall with mood lighting, Ba Asian Mood proposes Chinese cuisine with an interesting twist of creativity and modernity – I promise you have never tried something like it before!
Cavoli a Merenda – This restaurant is a welcoming place to gather and dine. With just twenty seats the location is intimate and classy. Nestled within an 18th century patrician home the exquisite cuisine offers a seasonal menu of fresh ingredients that changes every week.
Volemose Bene – Finally, something really Italian coming from the Roman tradition. If you are looking for a place to try the real “Cacio e pepe” or “Matriciana”, this is the right place for you. The atmosphere is very relaxed and homey and the restaurant itself is VERY ‘Italian’.
WHERE TO STAY
Living in Milan means that I don't get the chance to test out the famous hotels in the city, but here are some places that I can recommend:
Chateau Monfort – Located in the heart of the city, this hotel was born from an early 1900s liberty palace. Chateau Monfort design has been inspired by fairy tales and the Italian Opera that make this enchanting place a real bon-ton ‘urban castle’. The atmosphere at Chateau Monfort is romantic and unique thanks to its floral patterns and pastel colours that will make you feel like you are in real fairy tale.
Palazzo Parigi – Meticulously rebuilt where the 16th century Cramer Palace used to be, Palazzo Parigi Hotel & Spa is located in Brera district. Designed by Pierre Yves Rochon, with a classical ‘30s style and a private garden with a beautiful fountain, the palace combines the best Milan style with soft French influences.
Armani Hotel – Armani Hotel Milan was born from the desire of the famous Italian designer Giorgio Armani, to go beyond the world of fashion celebrating his hometown. Right in the centre of the city the 5 stars hotel in the heart of the fashion district offers a modern and timeless style deeply in line with the philosophy of its creator.
WHERE TO DRINK
One of the most famous habits of Milan insiders is the ‘aperitivo’ or the so-called ‘happy hour’. Around 6 or 7pm before actually going to dinner we usually have a drink or a glass of wine accompanied by a rich buffet of finger food. There are a couple of interesting addresses in Milan that I highly recommend not only because of the location but most of all to try the fascinating creations of expert bartenders.
Mag – Located in the unique context of Navigli district, Mag café is characterised not only by a beautiful Parisienne atmosphere but also by a unique drink selection.
Il lusso della semplicita’ – Recently opened by the famous TV chef Alessandro Borghese ‘ Il lusso della semplicita’ (literally, the luxury of simplicity) is actually a restaurant with the chance to sit down and relax just for a drink. I suggest to take the opportunity to visit the nearby City Life district designed by Zaha Hadid.
Ceresio 7 - With the beautiful view of Milan skyline, Ceresio 7 pool and restaurant is the perfect place to relax and admire the sunset sipping a classic Spritz or one of the interesting creations of the bar. The accompanying aperitivo is not as generous as other places in Milan but definitely the location worth the visit.