The Idealist

Idealist City Guide: MILAN

Milan is today’s style capital of focus for The Idealist. Home year round to a world-class array of shopping and sights, it’s also host to a range of fairs for the world of fashion, furnishing, books, cars, technology and food. Ellie takes us on a hunt for places to shop, places to stay (if you can get in!) and Milan’s top sights.

Situated in the northwestern Po Valley, the province of Milan is well-known as one of the fashion and design capitals of the world. Milan is also known for its world-class opera theatre, Teatro alla Scala. Throughout the year Milan plays host to a rolling parade of trade shows and fairs, but whatever you’re in town for, try to venture out beyond the main drag and see a bit of the city like a local.

Style Shopping

Arform

Founded in 1955, Arform was one of the first furniture stores in Via Turati. It was created with the goal of refurnishing houses after World War II, but in a way that didn’t follow trends. This is the perfect shop for design lovers. This is a great spot to pick up glassware, dinnerware and other small kitchen items.

Via della Moscova, 22, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 655 4691

De Padova

De Padova began selling imported imported Scandinavian furniture at their store in the 1950s. Over the last six decades, they’ve worked to design and furnish many famous buildings, including the Centre Georges Pompidou’s cafe. We love De Padova’s range of neutrally coloured sofas, armchairs, tables and chairs.

Via Santa Cecilia, 7, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 777201

Understate

The main attraction of Understate is their exclusivity; their furniture comes from lesser known brands. While they may not be the biggest name in the fashion world, Understate has worked tirelessly to create a unique design style. This is a great shop for modern seating and lighting.

Viale Francesco Crispi, 5, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 6269 0435

Nilufar

In 2015, one of Milan’s premier design dealers, Nina Yashar, opened Nilufar as a way of sharing her previously private collection of thousands of pieces of furniture with the world. Nilufar is three stories of absolutely stunning interior design. We absolutely love their selection of rugs.

Via della Spiga, 32, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 780193

Kartell Milano

Kartell Milano has it all, from beautiful pieces of furniture to lighting and home accessories. In addition to creating and curating exquisite furniture collections, Kartell Milano has a strong focus on functionality and ease of use. They have excellent selections of minimalist tables and chairs for both dining and working.

Via Carlo Porta, 1, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 659 7916

Staying Over

Nu Hotel

Clean, elegant design with a focus on function makes this hotel a great spot for design lovers. It’s also conveniently located near the Udine Metro Station.

Via Feltre 19/b, 20132 Milan, Italy
+39 02 971 5451

Starhotels Anderson

If you’re looking for a hotel that absolutely oozes style, the Anderson is for you. It combines minimalistic style with beautiful colours and is a favourite amongst the design jetset when the shows are in town.

Piazza Luigi di Savoia, 20, 20124 Milano, Italy
+39 02 669 0141

nhow Milan

Falling somewhere in the middle of every spectrum, nhow Milan’s innovative style and plentiful accommodations are sure to keep you entertained. The penthouse rooms are to die for and have been occupied by the likes of Brad Pitt, Rihanna and Edward Norton (not at the same time, we imagine — but that would make a great story!). Designed by Matteo Thun, you’re looking at about 2,000 euros a night for that experience.

Via Tortona, 35, 20144 Milano, Italy
+39 02 489 8861

Galleries and Museums

Kaufmann Repetto

Formed through a collaboration between Francesca Kaufmann and Chiara Repetto, this gallery has a range of wonderful exhibits — from the main exhibition to the larger outdoor pieces. This is the home of single-artist special exhibitions.

Via di Porta Tenaglia, 7, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 7209 4331

Pinacoteca di Brera

If you can only see one gallery in Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera is a good choice. It was established in 1776 and is the main public gallery in Milan. Think Bellini, Raphael, Carravaggio.

Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 7226 3264

Studio Guenzani

Directed by Claudio Guenzani since its opening in 1986, Studio Guenzani presents work from both local and global artists, including having shown such names as Louise Lawler and Cindy Sherman.This is modern photography and art on display in a great setting.

Via Bartolomeo Eustachi, 10, 20129 Milano, Italy
+39 02 2940 9251

Food

Of course, Milan is a great destination for wonderful eating from the simple to the extravagant, with all the high-end hotels offering world-class and world cuisine. Seta, for example, within the Mandarin Oriental, is the top-rated restaurant in Milan and offers beautiful tasting menus of fish and game and rich cuisine. But we figure you know how to find smart restaurants, so we’ve picked out a couple of alternatives which are simple, honest Italian food for when you’re on the go.

Verace

Verace has a simple tag line: “Pizza. Food. Coffee.” By constantly searching for ways to better their quality, Verace has taken this simple concept and made it into something extraordinary.

Corso Buenos Aires, 80, 20131 Milano, Italy
+39 02 3652 6503

Sapori Solari

By offering a wide variety of cold cut meats and cheeses, Sapori Solari provides an authentic Italian dining experience for a reasonable price.

Via Sofonisba Anguissola, 54, 20146 Milano, Italy
+39 02 3651 0020

Piz

When people think of Italy, pizza is often the first thing that comes to mind. If you’re looking for some of the best pizza in Milan at an affordable price, check out Piz.

Via Torino, 34, 20123 Milano, Italy
+39 02 8645 3482

Must-See Attractions

Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”: You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist more revered than Leonardo Da Vinci, or a painting more famous than The Last Supper. Painted on the wall of the Covent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, The Last Supper is one of Milan’s most treasured historic artefacts. Just don’t ask why they’re all sitting on one side of the table.

Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano, Italy
+39 02 467 6111

The Duomo de Milano : The Milan Cathedral is one of the most extravagant buildings in Milan. Construction on the Milan Cathedral began in 1386, and additional pieces were added over the next 130 years. Look out for some particularly puzzling and curiously modern-looking statuary: Left of the altar is the most famous statue of all the Cathedral, the Saint Bartholomew Flayed (1562), by Marco d’Agrate: the saint carries his flayed skin thrown over one shoulder like a stole. Damien Hirst has nothing on this! We also recommend going up on the roof — it can get crowded up there, but the views of the city and surrounding landscape are amazing.

Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milano, Italy

Parco Sempione: This scenic city park is a combination of a quiet, relaxing area and a must-see attraction. It covers 95 acres, which includes an aquarium (with occasionally free entry), a sports stadium, and a medieval castle.

Piazza Sempione, 20154 Milano, Italy
+39 02 8846 7383

Getting there

Depending on which airline you book with, a flight from London to Milan will cost you between £65 and £200. Note that there are 3 airports close-ish to Milan, but travel time into the city varies from 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on whether you come into Linate, Malpensa or Bergamo. Linate is the closest to the city. The flight takes about two hours each way.

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Feature image (c) ventdusud / 123RF Stock Photos. Other images from stores featured.

  • Ellie lives in a village outside Oxford and works in fashion in London. She loves the vintage look, traditional English afternoon tea, prosecco and hiking in the Lake District.

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