Each time I visit Milano I am blown away by it. Not for the same reasons that Rome blows me away. In Rome, every corner you turn, you stumble across one iconic site after another. Milan is like Rome’s cooler, glamorous sister.
While Milan doesn’t have the sheer volume of historical sites of Rome, it has something else. It has in-your-face unapologetic glamour and sex appeal. The streets in Milan are like a catwalk where the beautiful locals strut their stuff with a unique mix of nonchalance and arrogance that only the Milanese seem to possess.
On my recent trip to Milan I got to thinking about what it is that I love most about this city and which keeps bringing me back. You’ll see below, that the style and the Milanese men seem to play a large part here. So before I get to my city-guide, let me first share with you a couple of my favourite things about this awesome city.
The Men of milan
Yes, once I started thinking about it, the Milanese men have a large part to play in what I love about this city. Only in Milan can a (heterosexual) man walk down the street wearing red sweatpants with white go-fast stripes down the sides, a gigantic brown, excellent quality faux-fur coat, huge white-rimmed sunglasses and the most expensive pair of Gucci trainers and pull it off as a low-key look. I saw it, and he did.
At the other end of the Milanese man-spectrum you have those charismatic men in immaculate suits so sharply tailored that you might cut yourself against their shoulders if you walk too closely past them. One will often see these men throwing back an espresso at the counter of a corner cafe before striding of purposefully off to a high-powered business meeting. Mmm mm!
Italian men generally might have a negative reputation for
hassling objectifying women in the street. However what I found with Milanese men was that they tended to comment on my style and clothes. Seriously. One random gentleman I passed in the street commented that my trousers were a very fine cut and made of good quality leather. Basically the men here seem to objectify style rather than a woman’s physical attributes. And I can appreciate this. It’s not often a man will voluntarily appreciate the effort I went to in order to find just the right pair of leather trousers and how I put my look together on that day.
So all in all, hats off to the men of Milan.
I am an avid people-watcher and can while away hours just drinking coffee (or cocktails, depending on whether it’s after midday or not) and watching people walk by. I am fascinated by people and what they wear. And there is no better place to do this than the Brera design district in the centre of Milan, one of the most chic little neighbourhoods I ever did mooch around in.
There’s the plastic surgery victim with her wealthy husband (both very glamorous), the mother wearing the most impractical outfit with ease alongside her equally stylish toddler (both very glamorous), and the ladies out shopping and drinking coffee, all fur coats, massive sunglasses and Gucci (all very glamorous, despite the fact that no one has a problem with fur here).
If “effortless glamour” is a concept that can actually exist, then this city has it in spades. People-watching in Milan. It’s fascinating. Get involved.
MIlan city Guide
Having discovered the ever so cool Deus Ex Machina cafe in Harajuku, I was keen to try out its Milano branch and was not disappointed. Located alongside its motorcycle shop not far from the centre of Milan, it is an eclectic little brunch location.
Was Anderson-designed Bar Luce at the Fondazione Prada, which I have written about here, is a fabulous spot around about aperitivo o’clock.
Ristorante Giacomo Arengario, located beside the Duomo is also a very glam aperitivo locale (more on this under “Dining”).
Above the Museo Novecento in the Piazza Duomo is one of my favourite places in all the world to have dinner, Ristorante Giacomo Arengario. Due to its spectacular location it has the most breath-taking views of the Duomo, and the food is exquisite. This is one for special occasions. If you don’t have a special occasion to celebrate, you’re going to have to make one up and dine here (e.g. buy some Gucci shoes and celebrate the shoes).
Speaking of Gucci, no trip to Milan is complete until you wander down the off-the-chart super-luxe Via Monte Napoleone. It’s luxury shopping heaven, and home to Gucci’s flagship store, D&G, Prada, Valentino, Versace as well as Giorgio Armani’s superstore and hotel.
Once you’ve blown a few months savings on Montenap, head to the more eclectic, nearby Via Pontaccio, Via Solferino and Corso Como (including 10 Corso Como) for interesting local boutiques.
For me, Milan is not so much about the sites as it is about the neighbourhoods. However for anyone in search of culture, head to the Duomo for its breathtaking beauty and view from the top, the Teatro alla Scala for opera and Museo Novecento for 20th-century Italian and international artworks, by everyone from Modigliani to Matisse.