The ultimate travel guide to Milan, the city of the moment
Posted: 02 August 2018
Solid historical and artistic heritage, top-class fashion stylists, renowned architects, leading designers and Michelin-starred chefs all play a part in making Milan the business and financial capital of Italy. Much has changed in the city since Expo Milano 2015, from the spiky skyline to cultural offerings, and after the grand openings of museums Fondazione Prada, Museum of Cultures and Armani/Silos, Milan is having another happening moment.
Designed in 1865, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls and houses the contemporary-photography hotspot Milan Osservatorio on the sixth floor.One such institution making its mark on the city is Milan Osservatorio, a hotspot for contemporary photography located on the sixth floor of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – one of the world’s oldest shopping malls that’s just a few steps away from Duomo di Milano cathedral. Dedicated to the art of digital and analogue images, Osservatorio’s most recent exhibition, Give Me Yesterday, was curated by Francesco Zanot and highlighted the works of 14 Italian and international artists.
A spiral staircase dominates the reception area of the new Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli library complex, which is the first building in Italy designed by architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron and was opened to the public in December last year.A new structural gem in the heart of the Porta Volta district is Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, a geometric glass-and-cement build designed by architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron. The complex was opened to the public in December 2016 and houses a library, a reading room, a multifunctional space that’s available for public use, a research foundation and offices, with a cafeteria and bookshop on the ground floor.
At So-Milano in Milan, Italy, architectural firm Baciocchi Associati conceptualised a display system that exhibits only one fashion brand at a time in lit-up ovoids.For the latest in fashion and design, there’s So-Milano in Piazza Risorgimento, founded by Aldo Carpinteri and Giordano Ollari and designed by Baciocchi Associati architects. Here, the store’s display space – which features a series of iridescent ‘eggs’ in which clothing and accessory lines are presented, as well as custom bronze sculptures and hangers made in collaboration with the foundry Fonderia Artistica Battaglia – is afforded as much attention as the fashion. So-Milano showcases only one contemporary fashion brand at a time, with Victoria Beckham, JW Anderson and Jeremy Scott having been presented thus far.
Interiors company Dimore Studio creates elegant spaces that combine the contemporary with the traditional.Walking around Milan always works up an appetite and fortunately, just 200m from So-Milano, the recently opened ’ino bar inside Filippo La Mantia restaurant in Piazza Risorgimento serves some of the city’s finest sandwiches. Prepared by Tuscan chef Alessandro Frassica, 11 different panini tell the gastronomic story of an ideal trip from Palermo to Milan via Florence. Our top picks: the Gioia Mia (ratatouille, basil and salted ricotta), Panelle a Modo Mio (Italian fritters, grilled veggies and lemon pesto) and Lungomare (grilled octopus with wild fennel and a lime-and-ginger emulsion).
Michelin-starred chef Andrea Berton’s new eatery, Ristorante Berton, features floor-to-ceiling windows, leather Giorgetti chairs, circular brass ceiling panels and LED-illuminated window shades.If you’re after mind-blowing fine dining rather than a panino, head to Ristorante Berton, Michelin-starred chef Andrea Berton’s restaurant in the heart of the Porta Nuova district. The dishes are plated like paintings and you shouldn’t miss the delicious starter of belly tuna with almonds, caper dust and green olives. For mains, try the scallops with liquorice.
Boffi De Padova’s showroom in Via Santa Cecilia celebrates the merger of furniture brands Boffi and De Padova. It was designed by Piero Lissoni (creative director for both firms) and spans two floors that showcase its collections, from furniture to accessories.In the San Babila district – a central destination during Salone del Mobile, Milan’s international furniture fair – you’ll find exquisite pieces at Boffi De Padova’s new flagship store on Via Solferino. And if you want to dig deep into iconic Italian product design, visit the Fornasetti emporium, located in a building on Corso Venezia and Via Senato that was once the residence of Futurism founder Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. It can be explored room by room and is packed with Rococo furniture, limited-edition plates and classic Piero Fornasetti illustrations that have been turned into wallpaper.
The interiors of the Fornasetti emporium are divided into rooms, each with a specific colour theme, and visitors can view founder Piero Fornasetti’s original drawings while shopping for decor.In celebration of Italian design master Pierluigi Ghianda, Bottega Ghianda – a tiny jewel of a store in Via Marco Formentini, Brera – is now open to the public. Look out for precious artefacts like miniature hand-carved pillboxes, Amore-designed desk sculptures by artist Pino Tovaglia from the early 1970s, wooden trays by Gae Aulenti, and Gianfranco Frattini’s Kyoto coffee table. Dimore Gallery is in the same neighbourhood, and exhibits 20th-century masterpieces selected by its founders Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran. And for completely independent, present-day design, visit Subalterno1 art gallery on Via Conte Rosso (by appointment only).
In the Room Mate Giulia’s lobby, you’ll find a mixed arrangement of colour, pattern and furnishings, with artworks by local creatives.Before calling it a day, pop over to Ripa di Porta Ticinese and visit BackDoor43, quite possibly the smallest bar in the world. Its 4m2 are filled with hundreds of liquor bottles and the bar serves cocktails through a hatch until late. The speakeasy-type space can be booked by up to four people for two hours at a time, and guests can select their own music and lighting. With all that this great city has to offer, it’s immediately apparent why Milan has been considered the design capital of Italy since the start of the 20th century – and is a sought-after destination for those with a taste for the beautiful things in life.