Massimo Alba: the hidden heart of Milan

Massimo Alba was born in Treviso, where he spent his youth drifting about on canals, writing poems and taking pictures. A great fan of movies, stories and music, he dreamed of framing reality through creative means like these, but eventually began designing clothes in the mid-1980s. In the following decade Massimo was Italian cashmere company Malo’s creative director, but in 2006 he launched his own label. Today, Massimo Alba, the brand, produces garments epitomising sprezzatura, that understated elegance for which Italian fashion is renowned. Massimo’s secret tip takes us into Via Corsico, a street in Navigli, the canal region of Milan, where you’ll find his studio. And record collection.

Massimo Alba (right) and Alioscia Bisceglia (left), owner of the Elita Bar and frontman of band Casino Royale.

Alda Merini was one of the most important Italian poets. One thing you can learn from her is not to overlook what is really close to you. While we have to stay warm and open to the rest of the world, we must also be very close to the little and local. I’ve been in Navigli for about 15 years. With crooks and thieves, in the beginning it felt dangerous and alive. I miss the cruel reality of such underground places. I was very friendly with everyone. At a certain point, some locals wanted to create a petition for those dangerous people to go away. I argued the opposite – we needed them to stay with us and continue creating the atmosphere. Tourists care for the city’s central shopping district of Via Monte Napoleone, but I’m not the audience for it. I prefer to work and be alive in a special place like Navigli.

Massimo Alba’s studio in Navigli, Milan

I have spent a lot of time in aeroplanes, trains, and cars. But in Navigli, I like to simply cross the street from my studio and go to Elita Bar for a drink with a friend of mine. That’s the most magnificent trip I do nowadays. The bar is owned by Alioscia Bisceglia, the front man of Casino Royale, a fantastic Milanese band from the late 1980s. Since it belongs to a man so significant to our culture and our city, you meet many different people there. They do very good drinks, special food, and exactly as it is with myself and the clothes I design, Alioscia simply does whatever he wants. That’s why he and I are friends. And from the very beginning of Massimo Alba, he produced the sound for all our videos. We currently have a plan with him and Geppi Cuscito, Casino Royale’s guitarist, to produce a record for a women’s collection. It will be based on the sounds Alioscia has already made for us.

Café Teresa e Patrizia, a slice of Naples in Milan

Another great part of this little world is Teresa e Patrizia, a slice of Naples in Milan. This sits at the top of my street, Via Corsico, on Via Vigevano. The owners are from Naples, and they do the perfect spaghetti al pomodoro and the perfect coffee. They also make a great babà, a Neapolitan cake soaked in rum. I often go there for lunch.

Towards the end of Via Corsico, I also recommend the butcher Macelleria Masseroni, and a beautiful restaurant which is named 28 Posti because you can only seat 28 people in there.

Elita Bar, Via Corsico, 5, 20144 Milano MI, Italy; Macelleria Masseroni, Via Corsico, 2, 20144 Milano MI, Italy; 28 Posti, Via Corsico, 1, 20144 Milano MI, Italy; Ristorante Napoletano e Caffetteria con Pasticceria da Teresa e Patrizia Milano, Via Vigevano, 14, 20144 Milano MI, Italy; massimoalba.com

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