Luca Finardi, General Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Milan
Eating and Drinking
(Corso Genova, 1) is an historic Italian pastry shop with the best handmade Milanese panettone, while Pasticceria Marchesi (Via Santa Maria alla Porta, 11A) is a favourite in Milan for its paste mignon (miniature pastries). Pasticceria Sissi (Piazza Risorgimento, 6) sells delicious cornetti alla crema (croissants filled with Chantilly cream), which are freshly made here daily – the perfect treat to start the day full of energy.
Lunch: Il Bacaro del Sambuco (Via Montenapoleone, 13) is a hip bistro with a famous address, just around the corner from Mandarin Oriental, Milan. It exudes traditional Milanese flair and people can either dine inside or outside in the beautiful courtyard. Luini (Via Santa Radegonda, 16) is where you can have a stylish ‘street food’ experience; try the celebrated panzerotto with its delicious filling of melted cheese and tomato. Although Luini is just a takeaway, it’s an institution in Milan: every day at lunchtime, a long queue, comprising anyone from business people to students and tourists, forms in front of the entrance. People then eat their panzerotto while sitting on the steps of the nearby Duomo (Milan Cathedral) in the sun.
Aperitivo: In Italy we have three different phases for the perfect night out: we start with the aperitivo, the drink before dinner, and continue with dinner and after-dinner drinks. Ceresio 7 (Via Ceresio, 7) is a cool bar and restaurant opened by the fashion brand Dsquared2. On top of a building with swimming pools and an amazing panoramic view of the city, it’s great for an aperitif and dinner – or just an aperitif. Meanwhile, Dry (Via Solferino, 33), which has just opened in the Brera district, serves a wonderful cocktail called ‘The Monk’. It is made using a secret recipe based on tequila, and the barman is rated the best in the city. Alternatively, retreat to the beautiful courtyard of Mandarin Oriental, Milan for an extra special aperitivo including classical northern Italian creations such as Negroni, Negroni Sbagliato, Americano and Bellini. Or try a signature drink such as ‘The Gentleman’, a reinvention of the French 75 champagne cocktail.
Trattoria della Pesa
Dinner: Trattoria della Pesa (Viale Pasubio, 10) is a traditional Milanese trattoria where you can eat the best risotto alla Milanese in town. Langosteria 10 (Via Savona, 10) is famous for its linguini with clams and shellfish tartare. It’s also very happening – all the top people from Milan dine here, so it is the place to see and be seen. Ristorante Solferino (Via Castelfidardo, 2) makes the most incredible osso buco (veal with risotto alla Milanese). During the months of October, November and December the best white truffles are not in Alba but in this restaurant! It’s incredible what Solferino does with them (tagliolini, risotto…), and the eggs with truffles are amazing.
Plastic (Via Gargano, 15) is the club in Milan, opening till the early hours for party lovers who like to ‘play hard’. Alternatively, 1930 is a speakeasy bar with a secret address… The cocktails are the best in Milan and the atmosphere (and the way the barmen look) is a perfect reproduction of the Prohibition period. To get in you need a ‘pass’, which you get by befriending the barmen/owners of the Mag Cafè (Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 43), who then decide who is ‘eligible’ to be allowed in.
The best Milanese area for shopping is between Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone, just two minutes from the hotel, where all the big fashion brands such as Gucci and Prada are located. But I would also suggest the Brera area and Via Manzoni, where you can find treasures like E Marinella (Via Manzoni, 23) for men’s ties and Il Cirmolo Antiquariato (Via Fiori Chiari, 3) for antiques, trinkets and other classic gifts from Milan. For made-to-measure suits by master tailors, there are two renowned names to know: Tindaro de Luca (Via Gesù, 15) and A Caraceni (Via Fatebenefratelli, 16).
Shopping street Via della Spiga
Apart from the classics Milan is famous for (La Scala opera house, the Duomo cathedral, Da Vinci’s Last Supper, exhibitions at Palazzo Reale and La Triennale), my favourite cultural spot in town is still a well-kept secret. Situated in the centre of Milan, Villa Necchi Campiglio was built by Milan architect Piero Portaluppi between 1932 and 1935 for the Necchi Campiglio family, middle-class Lombard industrialists whose wealth came from the invention of the Necchi sewing machine. The residence, donated to FAI (the equivalent of the UK’s National Trust), opened to the public in 2008 after restoration work and now it’s a perfectly maintained house-museum where people can enjoy a stroll in the garden alongside the pool and tennis courts or stop for a coffee in the elegant glass structure of the Villa café.