I fell in love with Italy long time ago and since then I try to come back and enjoy this amazing country every year. There is so much history here in every step and beside that, it is one of the bests if not the best destination for culinary travel.
My Milan Travel Guide will help you decide what to see, where to stay and most importantly where to eat.
Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardia and the second most populated city after Rome. It is also considered to be one of the leading cities globally in design and fashion (brands like Giorgio Armani or Dolce & Gabbana). Fashion is absolutely noticeable walking around Milan! I`ve never seen a city where so many people dressed in carefully selected dresses.
The city is a perfect starting point to explore northern Italy with good flight connections to all over the word. It`s also close to the mountains and beautiful places like Lake Como.
Here is the top 7 sights you must see while you are in Milan!
Where to stay in Milan?
It`s easy to get around the city either by walking or taking the metro or tram. I recommend to stay in the centre so you can walk almost everywhere and you are close to all the wonderful restaurants and bars.
Hotel Indigo Milan
This modern Boutique hotel is in the area of Porta Monforte, only 10-15 min walk to Duomo.
There is a stylish courtyard which serves as restaurant area with a huge giraffe statue and design furniture. This inner garden is like a mini oasis in the middle of the busy city which gives you some shade from the sun and a place to relax after a long walk in the city.
The design mixing elements from 1950’s Italian vintage fashion and feature artworks from Biki, one of the most notable names of the Milan fashion scene of the 50s. Every detail is perfectly planed like the lamps next to the bed with a shape of a hat or the carpet which starts from the floor and ends on the ceiling over the bed giving a notable character to the room.
If you stay here, don`t forget to visit Palazzo Invernizzi which has a garden that has been home to a colony of pink flamingos for over thirty years.
What to eat in Milan?
Every time I arrive to Italy I straight jump into pasta, pizza and gelato but Milan has so much more to offer.
When you are in Milan you must try the local risotto: Risotto alla Milanese which gets the bright yellow colour from the saffron, a spice that in Italian cuisine is often very popular.
Another popular dish is Cotoletta alla Milanese, meaning “little rib”, because of the rib that remains attached to the meat during and after the cooking. It`s similar to Wiener Schnitzel and usually served with potato and fresh veggies.
Beyond what to eat the most important question is:
Where to eat in Milan?
Pasticceria & Dessert – Marcello Rapisardi
Address: Piazzale Bacone, 12, 20129 Milan Italy Instagram
Marcello Rapisardi has been on my list before visiting Milan and I am so happy finally I made it to his lovely pastry shop. Despite his still young age Marcello had been pastry chef in different Michelin starred restaurants before he decided to go his own way and open his pastry shop called Pastry & Dessert in 2015.
The store itself is precisely a historical and traditional Italian one. Sales only without coffee station and tables. Their motto is “ancient form, contemporary content” which is reflected in the desserts and in some preparations in particular the pralines. OMG the pralines! I had the most incredible experience ever trying 3 of his praline creations. To give you a perspective on how passionate this guy about chocolate making; he even had a recommended order to try each of the pralines for the flavours to work the best!
The Gold is “Carbonara”: The filling is white chocolate ganache flavored with traditional carbonara ingredients: guanciale (it’s a kind of bacon), pecorino cheese, egg, black pepper. An extremely exciting flavour combination which works wonderfully! Who would have thought? The Green is “Cioccomarino” : It’s made with phytoplankton giving sort of an interesting sea algae and plant flavour, again absolutely amazing! The Pink is “Ylang Ylang”: The filling is made of milk and dark chocolate ganache, acacia honey and ylang ylang essential oil. Beautifully flowery, girly, absolutely genius!
We also tried a small tray of traditional Italian desserts and different kinds of fruit jellies… and some of the tarts… basically almost everything! All I can say is that you have to visit Pastry & Dessert as and when you are in Milan!
Cucchi Pastry shop became the meeting place of Milan`s trendy artists, actors, designers and writers long time ago. The Pasticceria, where old tradition and modern pastries are equally found, led by the same family since 1936. In the heart of the city, overlooking to a lovely square it is the perfect place to start the morning or sit down for an afternoon coffee with a dessert. To give you a scale, I was told that there is no person in Milan who has not heard about Cucchi. While I haven`t spoken to all of the citizens, certainly everyone I spoke to talked highly about this pastry shop.
The shop is famous for their Panettone which is a typical Christmassy dessert but here it`s available all year around with many other gorgeous creations from croissants to tarts and cakes. We tried some sweet pastries (the raspberry tart is a dream!), the salmon croissant and the very interesting budino di riso. Budino di riso is kind of a rice pudding but not in a traditional way, more like a shortcrust pastry with rice, vanilla and citrus flavours. Extremely delicious and nothing I have tasted before.
N’Ombra de Vin
Fancy for a glass of wine (or two) and some nibbles? Go with the Italian way and have an Aperitivo at N’Ombra de Vin! To experience the local culture, to hang out with locals, to relax with a drink after a long day of sightseeing… The kind of bar full of locals enjoying some after work gatherings no matter what life brings (it is hard to find a restaurant this popular and full just after Covid-19)
What is Aperitivo? Aperitivo is sort of a meal occasion between 7 pm and 9 pm when Italians meet to relax over a glass of wine or a light cocktail and finger foods.
The place is the most comprehensive wine bar I have ever seen with thousands of wine bottles being part of the interior design of the bar – which used to be a wine cellar. Just ask the team who will be happy to recommend you drinks, cheese and meat dishes and enjoy. We had a table outside, under the trees with a gorgeous church from the 1200s in the background. Life can’t really get better than this!
Pasta Fresca Da Giovanni
Address: Piazza Giovine Italia, 20123 Milan Italy Instagram
I love the concept of pasta shops. Offering nothing else but high-quality home-made pasta with various toppings on a very affordable price point is all I need for a quick lunch. I found the concept nowhere else but in Italy, where the pasta itself has an amazing taste on its own, the topping just “icing on the cake”. Absolutely non comparable with your store bought pasta!
This place is just a few blocks away from Santa Maria delle Grazie so after you visited Leonardo da Vinci`s Last supper, pop in for a lovely lunch. The shop is super authentic, full of locals, enjoying their daily pasta portion.
When you are in Italy, first thing you will get addicted to is gelato!
But what is gelato? Gelato in comparison to ice cream, is much milkier and denser with less air and so the higher density gives the gelato a more intense flavor.
Terra is home of incredible flavours of gelato made of natural ingredients. The milk what they use is South Tyrolean Mountain Hay Milk, from cows fed with fresh grass and wildflowers in high altitude farms. Pistachio from Sicily, Gorgonzola from Cameri or Lemon from Sorrento are just some of the excellent raw materials they use and you can absolutely taste the difference.
End result? Perfect Italian Gelato, with three main characteristics; flavour, creaminess and lightness all combined into one. Hardest part? Choosing only 2-3 flavours, we literally wanted to try everything! Gelato based cakes are also available for takeaway if you can’t get enough onsite.
If you visit only one Gelato shop in Milan, this must be the one.
If you can`t stop thinking about a Italian pizza (like us), just visit Gino Sorbillo, a few steps away from Duomo, where you will find real pizza Neapolitan.
After visiting Naples a few years ago, I benchmark all the pizzas to that level and for good and bad I am hardly ever impressed. I can tell you with confidence that this pizza is one of the bests I had since my Naples trip. The chef, Gino belongs to one of the oldest pizza maker family in Naples and he became a pizza chef as all of his other 20 siblings!!
For me the key for the perfect pizza is to keep it simple; tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella, that´s it. I really enjoyed reading some of the stories about their pizza shop on the back of their menu; For example their wood burning oven is built with ancient method using special Sorrento bricks by craftsmen who have been doing this work for generations.
There are a few options to dine with the magnificent view of Milan Duomo and one of them is Giacomo Arengario with outdoor seatings located on a large terrace overlooking Piazza del Duomo. It’s obviously won´t be your cheapest meal but a beautiful experience to catch Duomo in the afternoon sun. The restaurant is ideal to try Risotto alla Milanese, a yellow risotto which gets the bright yellow colour from the saffron, super delicious!
If you want more Italian food, check out my home made tiramisu recipe, the most iconic and famous Italian desserts of all time.
Milan is a gorgeous metropolitan city, with so much history where everyone can find their interest from fashion to art, from historical places to modern neighbourhoods. It has all the characters what we love in Italy, the taste, the colours, the architecture and vibrant lifestyle. It can be a good idea to start here if you want to explore Northern Italy then head to Lake Como for a completely different scenery.