Guide to: Milan

Italy’s fashion capital offers fantastic food, great people-watching and hotel rooms bursting with history

Our destination guides are Sponsored by Thomas Pink. They remain independent and unbiased, bringing you under-the-radar travel recommendations we think you'll love.

On the fashion-week circuit, editors used to fly to Milan and groan, ‘can we get to Paris already?’ After the gold rush that came with the titans of fashion in the 1980s and 90s – Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace and Franca Sozzani – the early 2000s were uneventful and Milan remained an enclave for rich Italians, who’d leave on the weekends for Portofino or the Alps. On Sundays, stores closed, church bells rang and it was difficult to buy so much as a pint of milk. 

Since hosting the Expo in 2015, international offerings have broken into the conservative city. Ambitious southerners and town-folk move here to carve out their own way in the workplace, and sophisticated visitors are starting to recognise its tucked-away glamour. 

Milan might not be as on the nose as Naples or Palermo, but there is flavour in the meandering cobblestone streets, quaint cathedrals and piazzas. You’ll find it a refreshing, no-nuisance holiday experience.


Eat Early

Pasticceria Sissi

Sissi and her Senegalese husband Zig preside over Milan’s best breakfast. This bohemian pink-walled pasticceria with rattan furniture looks out on to a charming outdoor courtyard. Brioches are baked in the adjacent “laboratory” and you can fill them with your pick of clotted cream or jam at the counter. The thick ham-and-cheese toasts, cooked and buttered to perfection, are not to be missed. 

Piazza Risorgimento 6, 20129 Milan


Via Palestro was quiet until 2017, when aristocratic Sicilian siblings Ludovico and Lucrezia Bonaccorsi opened LùBar in the courtyard of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna. Tropical plants and Moroccan-style furniture adorn the 18th-century greenhouse. International dishes, such as avocado toast, are paired with Sicilian delicacies, such as arancini and paccheri alla norma.  Usually, there’s reggae playing, but sometimes opera singers dressed as waitresses unexpectedly burst into song in the dining area. 

Open from 8am until midnight (11pm on Sunday and Monday). Via Palestro 16, 20121 Milan; lubar.it

La Latteria

You might miss this restaurant’s small wooden doorway were it not for a plaque. The owner, Maria, presides over the dining room and this is very much her house. There are only seven tables for two, so whether Luca Guadagnino or a Kennedy is on the sidewalk, they’ll have to wait. So aim to head here around 12 or 12.30pm to skip the queue. The menu changes daily, with fresh pickings whipped up in the kitchen by Maria’s husband Arturo. On the walls, you might notice a hastily drawn sketch by Rita Ackermann in a frame, along with other ephemera left behind by famous patrons. This was a favourite of Keith Haring’s too. 

Via San Marco 24, 20121 Milan

Eat Late

Trattoria del Pescatore

This low-key, white-table-clothed establishment opened in 1976 and has earned a reputation for serving some of the city’s best seafood. The owners are Sardinian and their fish is entirely sourced from the southern Italian isle. Menu staples include clams, bottarga (salted cured fish roe), pasta and their selection of raw fish, but it’s best known for astice alla catalana, chopped lobster with copious amounts of ripe vine tomatoes drowned in olive oil. 

Via Atto Vannucci 5, 20135 Milan; trattoriadelpescatore.it

Trattoria Trippa

Chef Diego Rossi did something daring here, which was to recreate the traditional trattoria with a modern twist. Tiled floors, yellow wall-paint and wooden tables are all old school, yet symmetrical and Wes Anderson-esque. The dishes, though time-honoured, aren’t rudimentary, either. The vitello tonnato has a carefully calculated ratio of veal to tuna sauce to capers. Reserve on the restaurant website at 12pm sharp to make sure you get a table. Via Giorgio Vasari 1, 20135 Milan; trippamilano.it

Casa Ramen Super

“Italians can make ramen, too”, it says on the window of Casa Ramen Super, an establishment that wouldn’t otherwise draw so much as a sideways glance. A small menu, high tops and stools make for a fun, casual ambience. But the Italian durum-wheat ramen, paired with rich broth, is superior to most noodle joints you’d find in New York. You can watch the chefs in the open kitchen as they whip up tender bao buns dripping with sweet sauce. 

Via Ugo Bassi 26, 20159 Milan; casaramensuper.com


Nottingham Forest

Most people wouldn’t spot this bar, just a few minutes’ walk from Villa Necchi Campiglio. But the small wooden doorway and overhang open up into a delightfully eccentric space filled to the brim with ephemera from the owner Dario Comini’s travels to Africa, the Americas and the Far East. He also foams, stirs and flames exotic spirits behind the wooden counter to expert effect. 

Viale Piave 1, 20129 Milan; nottingham-forest.com


Dabass used to be a bookstore and, though the volumes have since been stripped from the shelves, and a kitchen installed, it retains something of that artistic spirit. The interiors are design-conscious – an eclectic mix of vintage pieces and sleek modern items – and, while the menu (which is fixed in the evenings) could feel pretentious, it’s both affordable and fun. Or you could simply go for the perfect cocktails. P-Funk and James Brown play at all hours, and the Porta Romana neighbourhood is a buzzing scene after dinner. 

Via Piacenza 13, 20135 Milan; dabass.superbexperience.com


Antica Locanda Solferino 

Before the city’s richest families settled in the Brera neighbourhood in the early 2000s, sex workers lived in the tenement buildings and artists swarmed in their midst. Like New York’s Chelsea Hotel in the 1960s, Antica Locanda Solferino, which opened its doors in 1926, hosted many artists’ rendezvous. It’s still open today and has retained its old-school charm, with creaky wooden floors, knitted bed sheets, high bed frames and quaint balconies. It’s hard to find a boutique hotel in Milan and this one has character. Via Castelfidardo 2, 20121 Milan; anticalocandasolferino.com

Portrait Milano Hotel

Before Leonardo Ferragamo laid eyes on this former 16th-century conservatory nestling in the heart of the Quadrilatero della moda in 2013, it had sat abandoned, collecting dust for the better part of 20 years. The previously austere rooms on the second and third floors overlooking a 30,000sqft square have been decked out in luxurious oak wall panelling, with Carrara marble bathrooms and walk-in closets. Salvatore Ferragamo patents – such as the one from 1937 for the wedge heel – dot the walls. Corso Venezia 11, 20121 Milan; lungarnocollection.com/portrait-milano-hotel


Cavalli e Nastri Brera

Don’t be deceived by the musty exterior – Chanel jackets, demure Miu Miu skirts and Luisa Beccaria dresses are some of the offerings at Claudia Jesi’s carefully curated vintage store. Pricing is accessible and the selection is distinctly Milanese. There’s nothing moth-eaten here, and even the most banal black sweater you’ll find fits like a glove. 

Via Brera 2, 20121 Milan; cavallienastri.com/en-gb

Lorenzi Milano

It’s hardly under the radar, but a city guide wouldn’t be complete without mention of Lorenzi, the gentleman’s store which counts Silvio Berlusconi, Johann Rupert and the late Prince Philip among its clientele. The original store was founded in 1929 by Giovanni Lorenzi, offering an array of gentleman’s grooming products on the corner of Via Monte Napoleone. After shuttering in 2014, a new Lorenzi was opened in Piazza Filippo Meda by Giovanni’s grandson Mauro. Magnifying glasses in bamboo, letter openers and truffle serving sets are some of the old-world objects for sale here. Piazza Filippo Meda 3, 20121 Milan; lorenzi-milano.com

Laboratorio Paravicini

Laboratorio Paravicini

Tucked away in via Nerino behind a nondescript carved-wood door, Laboratorio Paravicini is at the heart of the Cinque Vie neighbourhood, which meanders among excavated Roman ruins. Since 1995, Costanza Paravicini and, more recently, her daughters Benedetta and Margherita Medici di Marignano have run this hand-painted ceramics store to great effect. Tableware sets are laid out across storerooms looking out on to a courtyard, and painted plates, adorned with plants and creatures of all ilks, dot the walls. Via Nerino 8, 20123 Milan; paravicini.it/en


Pinacoteca di Brera

Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa

In 1210, when a nearby cemetery ran out of space, a storeroom was built on Piazza Santo Stefano and decorated with the surplus bones and human skulls. The church that was attached to the space was partially destroyed by a fire in 1712. Though a new wing had to be constructed, the sinister ossuary is still standing. 

Piazza Santo Stefano, 20122 Milan; sanbernardinoalleossa.it

Skulls in Sanbernardino delle Ossa chapel, Milan

Pinacoteca di Brera

The Brera Art Gallery was officially founded in 1776, but its collection has been growing steadily ever since. Despite its prestige, it’s often largely empty, which means that most of the time, you have Raphael’s The Marriage of the Virgin, Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus and Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss all to yourself. Caffè Fernanda, in the overhang overlooking the courtyard, is a great place to stop for an espresso on your way out. 

Via Brera 28, 20121 Milan; pinacotecabrera.org



It isn’t easy to gain access to this Prohibition-style bar tucked behind Mag Café on Ripa di Porta Ticinese. And it isn’t a marketing ploy, either. The address isn’t listed on Google and a crisp €50 note won’t do the trick – you’ll need to make friends with owners Flavio Angiolillo and Marco Russo before getting a peek out back. It’s a haven of hushed voices, low lighting and exposed brick. There are only 15 cocktails on the menu and they are Italy’s finest.

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.