A concierge’s guide to Milan
By Mario Picozzi
January 19, 2021
Milan is elegance and sophistication, but knowing where to begin your culture-rich journey through the global capital of fashion and design can be a delightful challenge. Thankfully, Mandarin Oriental, Milan’s Head Concierge is on hand to help guide you in the right direction and reveal the city's hidden spots
Best for sightseeing
Whether business travellers or holidaymakers, 70 per cent of guests ask to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper (thanks to Dan Brown). One of the most famous images in the world – and Milan’s most celebrated historic site – you’ll find it on the same wall where it was painted back in the 15th century, in the dining room of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Incomparable, I would encourage anyone to see it, and have even arranged for private viewings. But to truly experience Milan as Leonardo did, there’s nowhere better than Leonardo’s vineyard (pictured above) which was gifted to him by the Duke of Milan (who incidentally commissioned The Last Supper) in 1498 and was reopened to the public in 2015.
Best for coffee
Cova and Marchesi (pictured above) are the two oldest pastry stores in Milan and well worth a visit. Or if you want to hang out with the fashionable crowd then it has to be Mandarin Oriental’s Mandarin Bar & Bistrot. There’s also 10 Corso Como, which is a brilliant concept boutique in the heart of Milan’s best shopping streets.
Best for getting around
Jump on a tram (pictured above). Of Milan’s 18 tram lines, the number 2 is the best route, it runs straight from the Duomo, Milan’s cathedral and third largest in Europe (you can even climb to the top), to Navigli, the hottest, hippest area in town.
Best for views of the city
For the best view of Milan – with a cocktail of course – and a slice of real Milanese nightlife, you can’t beat Ceresio 7 (pictured above). The high level bar and restaurant even has a pool if you need to cool down. And, if you’re looking for romance, an aperitivo at Torre, the new bar on top of the Fondazione Prada, also offers an unprecedented view of the skyline.
Best for waterside dining
Did you know Milan has its own network of canals? It’s in the Navigli area, which is now also the best place to eat and drink with the locals. From the hundreds of restaurants and bars, Al Fresco is great for classic Italian dishes and has a beautiful garden in summertime, while Langosteria (pictured above) is the top place in town for fish. Don’t miss Vicolo Lavandai – a preserved street where laundry was traditionally done, which will transport you back hundreds of years.
Best for history
La Scala (pictured above), just steps away from Mandarin Oriental, Milan is more than the just the greatest opera house on earth. At nearly 250 years old, it’s a living museum, and one of the most important in the world. For more history, step into one of Milan’s fascinating Casa Museo’s (house museums) now open to the public.
Best for sport
For more drama than even the opera, the greatest game in town is watching our two great football teams – AC Milan and Inter Milan – go head to head at the San Siro (pictured above). It’s modern history in the making.
Best for a tipple
Campari. Drink it on ice with aperitivo snacks at Camparino in Galleria (pictured above) – the liqueur-maker’s own cocktail bar in the ever-astounding Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan’s Victorian cathedral to shopping.
Best for escaping the city
More than half our visitors will take a trip to Lake Como (pictured above). It’s no wonder, as it’s the best of Italy’s beautiful lakes and it’s only 40 minutes away. Having Lake Como on our doorstep is one of the things that makes Milan such a wonderful city, while the sea is also not far with Genoa and Portofino just a couple of hours’ drive south. There was a time when the whole of Milan would head for the country at the weekend leaving the city deserted, but not anymore. There's too much going on here today, from new restaurants opening every week, to bars and galleries springing up.