Centuries-old traditions combined with the cosmopolitan attitude of the Milanese make the city – the port of entry to Italy – a delicious place
Known as the capital of fashion and design, Milan is also one of the country's main economic engines. It's common to hear that the locals are unkind to tourists, but this is just a myth – less intense than the Sicilians (but not as relaxed as the Neapolitans), the Milanese are quite open to the world around them. Even though they are laid-back, they walk proud, gesticulate with passion and have a heightened aesthetic sense.
Coffee is religion and can be enjoyed in two forms: espresso or cappuccino. Just choose among the dozens of cafés on Via Montenapoleone, in the Quadrilatero della Moda, to have a cup. A good option is Caffe Cova, one of the oldest pastry shops in Milan, founded in 1817. Check out the facades in the surroundings: the haute couture brands that brought fame to Italy, like Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, are located there.
Eating is living
Milan is home to renowned restaurants, like Giacomo and the award-winning Cracco. But you can also find places where nonnas still prepare the same pastas as ever, whose recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. We have to thank Milanese cuisine, native to the region of Lombardy, for mascarpone and such dishes as tortelli di zucca and risotto. And what risottos there are in Milan! Smooth, with the perfect blend of broth and saffron, and touches of white wine.
In order to try the real local food, it’s a good idea to escape the city center and head to the restaurant La Bettola di Piero. Another essential place, the elegant pastry shop Marchesi has flaky pastries that enchant customers like Giorgio Armani.
A perfect day in Milan
One of the city’s main landmarks, the Duomo di Milano started construction in 1386 and is a great example of Gothic architecture. In its vicinity, in addition to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, it's possible to appreciate everything which makes Italy so unique: the Vespas, the narrow stone streets, the older gentlemen arguing and gesticulating at outdoor café tables.
A few blocks from the Duomo you'll find the pastry shop Luini, whose specialty, the panzerotti (a crunchy pastry with cheese and tomato filling), is worth the line. With one in hand, go with the flow of the city: step inside some record stores to buy vinyls with hits from the 1960s; at the neighborhood's delicatessens, order some prosciutto and cheese to snack on; and, while you walk, notice the admirable architecture seen in even the humblest buildings.
After nightfall, do as the locals and have an aperitif – choose among Aperol Spritz, Negroni and Ceresio Spritz (sparkling wine, soda and Solerno, a Sicilian orange liqueur). At the bar Il Bacaro del Sambuco, traditions are maintained. If you’d prefer something more modern, head to Fioraio Bianchi, an old flower shop converted into a fashion café.