June 15, 2016

The Mini Culture Guide | Milan

That gorgeous architecture. Those hidden courtyards. The streets of chic ladies and their matching dogs. Three things that make Milan special, a city full of love, good cheesy food and plenty of sunshine. Back in April I spent five days exploring the city for Milan Design Week, discovering beautiful buildings while sipping espresso and eating far too much dairy.

The purpose of my trip was for Milan Design Week so don’t expect a full review of the city but in typical blogger style I had to share a few spots where we managed to whisk away some mornings and fill ourselves with wine in the evening. Keep reading lovers…

To Stay:

Elisa’s Place

If you’re looking for somewhere simplistic yet stylish Elisa’s bright and airy apartment is the pad for you. Based in Sarpi, the Chinese area of Milan, there’s plenty of culture all around and it’s just a ten minute walk to Garibaldi and the Brera district, which is all thriving. With room for a maximum of five in total, the apartment is spacious and full of charm (those chairs and that floor!), although I would say you need to consider it carefully depending on the politics of your group as the difference in rooms is quite substantial. There’s a large double room, a twin room which is suitable for adults but is normally home to children and a very comfortable sofa in the lounge – all in all great for friends but perhaps not for a group of couples. Elisa is a dream host and I’m sure we’ll stay again next year, as long as there’s plenty of croissants waiting for us!

To Visit:

Fondazione Prada

There’s a bloody gold building here. What more can I say? Although admittedly we didn’t have much of a chance to explore the inside of Fondazione Prada, we did have a good nosy around the courtyard and through the glass walls. Everything here is presented oh so well and with an ever-changing programme of exhibitions and projects who knows what you might find on your visit.

The whole concept of Fondazione is to promote the sharing of ideas so you’re bound to be spurred on by the creativity and inspirational aesthetics regardless. While you’re there you must stop for a drink at Bar Luce which just happens to be my next recommendation…

To Chill:

Bar Luce

Oh Wes Anderson, can you do no wrong? When the bloke isn’t making awesome movies he’s apparently designing Milanese cafes perfect for filming in, or whittling away an afternoon writing scripts, as Wes imagines it. Bar Luce is a must-have destination for anyone visiting Milan and as it’s based in Fondazione Prada you can kill two birds with one stone, filling your day with culture and pretty pastel patterns fit for any Anderson film.

Now I’m a lady that has to have an Aperol Spritz on a sunny afternoon and Bar Luce had me covered, providing a sweet little set-up of nuts and mini-pastries to accompany my orange fizz. Set against the speckled hues of the tray table, I didn’t want to disturb my perfect Instagram arrangement but alas, the pinball machines were calling and after watching two slightly older men suss out the game, I felt for sure that we were watching the scenes of a movie unfold. Prepare to people watch for hours while visiting this local hotspot, it’s a hub of interesting characters and those fashionable Milanese I talked about earlier. But don’t worry, the bar is prepared for the influx of social media influencers, with usb portals almost everywhere and not a bad surface in sight to mess up your chance of starring in a Wes film yourself.

To Eat, Drink & Shop:

10 Corso Como

10 Corso Como is the ultimate meet-up point in Milan. Hidden behind big double doors lies a courtyard full of plants and hanging flowers. It’s a sight to behold and the scenery alone makes it worth a visit. In what seems likethe perfect Venetian setting you can eat brunch, lunch and dinner, simply pop by for a coffee or visit the shop for a range of lifestyle products.

Exhibitions also run throughout the year so you can enjoy a glass of fizz on the roof terrace after a cultural hit, all while peering out over the new and old architecture of Milan. We visited Corso Como for both breakfast and dinner, both of which I can recommend for being fairly reasonably priced for the atmosphere and delicious menu – just make sure you try the cheese board which we swooned over all evening and be sure to snap the galactic tables if you visit in daylight!

To Walk:

Ventura Lambrate (Lambrate Metro Station)

Ventura Lambrate was my favourite area for discovering new design over Milan Design Week and not just because of the designers exhibiting. The surrounding buildings were absolutely stunning and I found myself looking up for most of our visit. I’m told that there isn’t much going on in the area for the rest of the year but I wanted to whack it in here anyway as if you’re simply just looking for a walk or a fan of good architecture, this is the spot for you!

On a sunny day there is definitely a Miami vibe so grab your sunnies, put on your best pink attire and head down there for some linear inspiration and a reflective paradise. If you do happen to be around during design week, this is the one place I’d whole heartedly recommend you take the time to visit, it would actually be interesting to see the area go from dead to bustling in a matter of days.

To Visit:

Duomo Cathedral

 I’m not sure any trip to Milan would be complete without a trip to see the Duomo Cathedral – if it’s your first visit it’s got to be done. I for one am always in awe when I see such complex buildings, filled with careful detailing from the smallest of fixtures to the grandest focal areas. It’s something we seem to have lost in this day and age so I always take the time to consider the people who worked on it, perhaps for all of their life, to the many people that now visit it to admire it’s beauty and soak up the amazing atmosphere that surrounds it.

I think we’ve established I like to stare at people now, but you simply can’t beat tucking into a gelato while watching the crowds of different cultures all come together in the square, to take photos and enjoy this magnificent building.

Are you a frequent visitor to Milan? I’m hoping to go back next year so if you have any recommendations please do send them my way. I hope you’re enjoying the slight travel element going on with the blog at the moment too – I’m hoping to post more so please do give me feedback if there’s anything particular you’d like to see or know about! 


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Emma Jane Palin is a freelance art consultant, interior stylist and multi-award-winning blogger residing in Margate, UK. She has worked with various home and lifestyle brands not limited to West Elm, Apple, John Lewis, Habitat, MADE, Caran D'Ache + No.3 Gin. Emma is also a regular contributor to Hunker where she writes about design trends and interior advice.

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