This article appeared in Forbes Travel in June 2015.
I've always championed a visit to Milan, and now more than ever. Over the past few years, the city has made a concerted effort to evolve-- from fashion and finance to all that plus food, tech and of course art. If Milan has been in the back of your head, put it to the forefront and consider taking a few days off to run around its incredible art collections and gorgeous shopping streets, meanwhile planning your next fabulous meal. And yeah, I picked up some great places to stay as well. Let's just say, I love getting to know Milan. An while you're at it, please take a look at my picks from this article which originally appeared in Forbes Travel, June 10, 2015.
Palazzo Parigi Hotel Photo Courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World Ltd
With everyone’s attention on the Milan Expo 2015, the city itself has been gearing up its museums, exhibition spaces, restaurants and hotels for the rush of visitors about to give Milan the attention it well deserves. If Milan is in your summer plans, the Expo is undoubtedly a big part of the itinerary. That said, here is a list of places to go, things to eat and ways to relax when you do take that eventual break from all the Expo excitement.
Bar Luce, Photo Courtesy of Attilio Maranzano
What to do Fondazione Prada opened its Rem Koolhaas-designed doors in an overhauled distillery on May 9. The cutting-edge art space (the “Serial Classic” bronze and marble sculpture collection runs through August 24) includes a kid’s area and Bar Luce, which was designed by Academy Award-nominated director Wes Anderson.
For a fashion break, pop over to the Armani Silos, the new fashion museum designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando in a former Nestlé factory. The Silos’ debut, which coincided with the May 1 opening of the Expo, centers around Milan-born fashion icon Giorgio Armani.
Reliable attractions include Museo del Novecento and its incredible collection of Italian art from the late 1880s to the end of the 20th century (this includes The Fourth Estate, Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo’s epic turn-of-the-century painting) and Villa Necchi Campiglio, the beautiful, 1930s home-turned-museum that was the stage for Luca Guadagnino’s 2009 Tilda Swinton-starred film I Am Love. For more Milan exhibitions and events, visit city-sponsored site ExpoInCittà.
Rebelot, Photo Courtesy of Bruno Pulici
Where to eat and drink The Navigli neighborhood’s vintage Milanese osteria Al Pont de Ferr adds a 21st-century flair to traditional dishes. Rebelot, Al Pont de Ferr’s little sister, is a tapas bistro helmed by Brazilian chef Mauricio Zillo with an excellent cocktail bar. The fashionable set loves contemporary bistro Pisacco. Associate cocktail bar Dry has some of the best drinks (like the Superstition with Fernet-Branca, Mount Gay Eclipse Silver, Velvet Falernum, lemon juice and rhubarb and licorice bitters) in the city and, unbeknownst to many, quite the tasty pizza. For a more low-key dining scene, Lievito Madre al Duomo is a quaint Napoli import at the very center of Milan where pizzamaker Gino Sorbillo serves only seven kinds of pies. If you’ve had your fill of pepperoni, try Tokuyoshi, the February-opened, Italian-Japanese restaurant from Yoji Tokuyoshi, Massimo Bottura’s former sous chef at Modena’s beloved Francescana.
Where to stay Following a four-year restoration, the winter 2015-opened Excelsior Hotel Gallia is an incredible example of Art Deco enchantment in the 21st century, and perhaps the smartest place to stay in Milan. Studio Marco Piva brings light into the 1930s hotel through color (browns and other earth tones), wellness (Milan’s largest hotel spa) and technology (the gym has a virtual golf simulator). The rooftop restaurant and bar have a futuristic vibe, too, thanks to gorgeous glass chandeliers and curvaceous furniture. The ground-level library is perfect for an in-transit meeting or a smoke in the Poltrona Frau-orchestrated cigar bar. The location is perfect for Expo visitors as it is immediately adjacent to the city’s Central Station. The Milan hotel also gives you access to a courtesy car for transport to the historic center.
The 10-level boutique property Palazzo Parigi Hotel is Neoclassical luxe with a French twist. Cosmopolitan and stylish, the Palazzo Parigi screams “catwalk,” which makes sense seeing as how the address is just around the corner from Milan’s trendy quadrilatero della moda section. Designed by architect and owner Paola Giambelli, the rooms toe between modernist Milano and fanciful French. The ground-level lounge bar Caffé Parigi seems inspired by a Rothschild library. Gastronomic Restaurant feels like a runway of sorts, too, with its dramatic glass “tunnel” for waiters. In the warmer months, head to the century-old garden for evening cocktails.