Milan What a Milanese does in the city center
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Milan What a Milanese does in the city center

All around Duomo Square there are a lot of interesting spots, from museums to street food stands, but don’t trust the travel guides (at least a real local wouldn’t).

In the 1990s, when kids skipped school, they used to go to the centre to eat the panzerotto at Luini. It was almost a must. Too bad it’s been two decades since then and a true local wouldn’t do that again. Yet, that is just one of the places recommended by travel guides written by foreigners, with a queue of tourists filling the street out front, but nothing more. The most authentic side of Milan is different, and not necessarily far from here.

Many of the people you see around aren’t going anywhere. One of the favourite pastimes of Italians is to walk, up and down Corso Vittorio Emanuele, looking at the shop windows of the international retail chains and stopping to observe the street artists who perform for the audience. If you get hungry, don’t act like the tourists queueing in front of Luini, but go to Esterina Pizza Fritta, offering a typical Naples specialty at just €3.50. Italy’s most famous pizza chef, Gino Sorbillo, brought the tradition of the panzerotto here, freshly fried and filled with tomatoes, ricotta cheese, Neapolitan salami and more. A perfect street-food.

In piazza Duomo, there is the magnificent Cathedral, admire the marble spires from outside, but a visit inside is also worthy to enjoy the stained-glass windows. To look at it from above, you can buy a ticket that will take you right to the top by lift or on foot, or even better sit at la Rinascente rooftop at Obicà – a restaurant which offers Mediterranean cuisine and pizza with Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP as main ingredient.

But if you love art, there are three addresses to note in your diary: the Museo del 900, right on the square, offering the best of Italian art of the last century; Palazzo Reale, with its temporary exhibitions; and the Gallerie d’Italia, in Piazza della Scala. Still rarely recognized, this vast private bank collection showcases 19th and 20th century art, hosts exhibitions and lets you explore the basement. The former vault of the Banca Commerciale Italiana provides a glimpse of what cannot be displayed in the gallery rooms.

At the end of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, on the corner with Piazza della Scala, a small shop almost goes unnoticed: the historical Borsalino. A true Italian classic, timeless, back in fashion. Very elegant.

An espresso, tea or a drink?

Peck is the most famous deli shop in Milan, where the people in Milan are queueing at Christmas time to buy the appetizers and where to try classics like the Russian salad and exclusive sandwiches. Between the luxury butcher and salumi counter, the new bar offers an exceptional espresso from selected blends and, if you want, a slice of panettone.

In the afternoon, visit the Pasticceria Marchesi, a tea room with a view located right at the centre of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, where the Old Milan style meets Prada, and elegance dominates. For an aperitif, choose the best cocktail bar in the area, the Café Trussardi and its bartender, Tommaso Cecca. Try a classic, a Beer Americano (a refreshing twist, made with Campari, red vermouth, ice, beer foam).

Magnificent tables

A sumptuous brunch, overlooking the Galleria, with a Bloody Mary list that would make Americans envious? Mio Bar at Park Hyatt, offering a menu by Michelin-starred chef Andrea Aprea.

For an easy lunch or dinner, stop at Spazio – the project of a three Michelin-starred chef, Niko Romito, and his training school. A beautiful view on the Duomo, great food and a casual setting. Just like Milan locals do when they want to eat well at an affordable price.