36 hours in Milan

Not ordinary itinerary

The common idea about Milano is that it has no beautiful attractions except for the Cathedral, while Rome, Florence , Naples and Venice are well known for their cultural treasures.

Milan is different, it’s a shy and reserved city to be discovered by getting lost in its streets and hidden places that will reveal unexpected buildings and courtyards.

We are here trying to reply to a recent post on the NY Times that proposes a quite ordinary itinerary. As locals, we want to share a more authentic one!

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4 PM Drink a coffee surrounded by plants and flowers at Fioraio Bianchi, an old and poetic spot in Brera which has been an institution for at least 40 years.

5 PM Visit Villa Necchi Campigio (close to Porta Venezia) designed in the ’30s by architect Piero Portaluppi for the Necchi, a very wealthy family of industrialists who produced sewing machines.The villa has been turned into a museum full of paintings, sculptures and precious objects from all over the world. A few years ago, film director Luca Guadagnino has chosen this house as the set for his film “Io sono L’amore”, starring Tilda Swinton.

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Nearby, if you are lucky, you can try to peek through the bars of the Invernizzi Garden and see a flock of beautiful pink flamingos elegantly grazing on a green lawn.

6 PM Take a break and sit on one of the rotating chair of Parco Palestro Planetarium (Porta Venezia). The sky is in a room.

7 PM Reward yourself with a Spritz cocktail in one of the most local bars in Milan, Bar Picchio (Porta Venezia).

8.30 PM Have dinner at the Small (Lima) a very charming place, refined in its interior design as much as in its menu. The owners are extremely kind. We advice to book a table.

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For a more informal dinner you can go at the Milleluci to dine under the reflection of mirror balls and have an after-dinner drink while singing italian songs from the 60s, the 70s and the 80s.

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10 PM The Sbagliato cocktail (a kind of Negroni) was invented at Bar Basso during the seventies. Try it, it is mandatory! Be aware that during the Design week it is crowded to the point where it’s hard to reach the bar.


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9 AM Get breakfast at Ofelè (Tortona Area). Cappuccino and brioche, italian style.

10 AM Go for a walk in the Navigli Area. Time for shopping around Corso di Porta Ticinese, searching for some good second hand shops such as Bivio in Via Gian Giacomo Mora, or Dictionary, with its selection of avant-garde fashion brands, and Garden K where you can find really cool young brands.

12 noon Go to Piazza Affari and take a picture of Maurizio Cattelan‘s provocatory marble sculpture shaped as a giant middle finger in front of Milan’s Stock Exchange.

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12.30 As the tradition has it, it’s time to drink a Camparino in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and then get a hot “panzerotto” at Luini’s. It will whet your appetite.

1 PM Two suggestions for lunch time: T’A (Duomo), historical and chic, recently renovated by architect Vincenzo De Cotiis. Here you can taste the excellent recipes by the renowned chef Umberto Vezzoli and a sophisticated selection of chocolate and pastry. For a more affordable and laid-back meal, go to Refettorio Semplicitas (Brera): here the keywords are health and organic!

After lunch, go to Circolo Reduci e Combattenti Porta Volta, also called Circolino, to drink an amaro in an old ex-soldiers social club. In the springtime it is nice and quiet in the garden.
For a good coffee and an excellent selection of books go to Libreria del Mondo offeso (Paolo Sarpi),

2 PM Art gallery tour: Antonio Colombo (Moscova) famous for its pop art made in USA and its research on kitsch. Lia Rumma Gallery is one of the city’s benchmark for contemporary art.

3 PM Visit the church San Bernardino alle ossa (San Babila). During the opening hours it is possible to explore the ossuary, a wall covered with skulls and bones taken from cemeteries and arranged in the rococo style.

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4 PM Artisanal laboratory tour through the center alley, 5 Vie (Duomo). A hidden district where to discover courtyards and feel like you are living the fifties. Laboratorio Paravicini and Wait and see. Take a break in Piazza Mentana kiosk.

8 PM Some proposals for dinner: Trattoria del Nuovo Macello (Piazza Lodi) is interesting for its homely and elegant atmosphere. For a winter dinner we advice Non Solo Lesso (Porta Venezia). If you don’t want to eat meat Pasta Madre (Porta Romana) is the place to go: it’s the temple of home made pasta.

10 PM “Futuristic cocktail” at Lacerba (Porta Romana). Lacerba offers an unusual and refined selection of drinks in a cutting edge environment. If you love vodka you have to go to Pravda (Bocconi) and order a Moscow mule. People from Milan meet there for the last drink of the evening and a chit chat.

11 PM a visit to the newborn LE CANNIBALE CLUB is mandatory, this is Milan’s most interesting new location, a small, sort of hidden nightclub which welcomes only a few hundred lucky guests every night on friday and saturday night. Expect red velvet curtains, doors leading to nowhere, some of the best djs in the world panorama immersed in a sort of glamorous and surreal wonderland.

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4 AM You should be hungry again by now. Well, in Milan it is possible to eat at any time of the night! At Maradona (San Gottardo) you can eat a horse meat sandwich and at Le Capannelle ( Sant’Agostino) even a good pasta.


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12 noon You deserve a smooth wake up and a brunch at TOM, The Ordinary Market (Colonne di San Lorenzo). A very cosy hipster place where you can get very healthy food so as to have the energy to face the next tour.

2 PM Visit Pinacoteca di Brera, Orto Botanico, and Cenacolo. These are incredible places, the classic cultural attractions in Milan. Get lost in the rooms of Accademia di Brera, go upstairs ad look outside the windows. “Beauty is the splendor of truth”.

3 PM We advice you to visit PAC (Contemporary Art Gallery), and to take a picture of the wall at the entrance painted by street artist BLU, or to go for a walk in the small park beside GAM ( Modern Art Gallery).%name 36 hours in Milan5 PM Milan is famous for being the homeland of Italian design… visit Achille Castiglioni studio (Cadorna) to have a grasp of italian design in the seventies. Passing through shelves full of books, sketches, projects and other Castiglioni’s works is an amazing experience.

6PM For a great panoramic view of the city go to Torre Branca, inside Parco Sempione. Giò Ponti designed this building in 1933 and called it Torre Littoria. It is now possible to go to the top with a lift and see a panorama which is hard to find elsewhere.

7PM Move to Chiostri di San Barnaba (Piazza V Giornate) for the last aperitivo in a holy atmosphere. This is a fifteenth century convent. Enjoying your aperitivo in a place like this is a very rare experience . [/accordion-group]



Francesco Paciocco, Milan dreaming