Only in Milan

Milan has class: this cosmopolitan city has one of the best opera houses in the world, wonderfully unique museums and a few blocks that have the highest concentration of fashion and designer shops in the world. Here you will experience the ‘other’ Italy, the vibrant, energetic Italy of the 21st century, a city of creatives and bankers. And no matter whether in a bespoke suit or in sneakers, this chic city has style in bucket loads. You need only do as the locals do to really experience Milan – have an aperitif in one of the stylish bars, go up to the roof of the cathedral, stroll through the city centre – and you will be impressed, delighted and even inspired!

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in this vibrant and exciting Italian city!

Milan Marco Polo Guide

Teatro alla Scala

The highlight of the city’s social scene is the opening of the opera season which takes place in the world famous theatre on 7 December. Just how emblematic the name La Scala is for the city is shown in the way the Milanese refer to their football stadium, San Siro, as the ‘La Scala of football.’

Basilica Sant’Ambrogio

The city’s spiritual heart beats in this wonderful Romanesque church where families wait patiently for a date to have their children baptised or to get married. When the Bishop holds a sermon here the church is filled to capacity and the Milanese recover from the stresses of worldly matters.

Triennale Design Museum

Everyone knows the Sacco beanbag by the furniture brand Zanotto, the Pago Pago reversible plastic vase by Enzo Mari, or the comical, brightly coloured shelves of Ettore Sottsass. All these iconic and playful items of Italian design can be viewed in the Design Museum.

Residential palaces as museums

Many noble residential palaces – which reflect the Milanese bourgeoisie lifestyle in their architecture, their furniture and their art collections – have been turned into museums such as the Poldi Pezzoli.

Quadrilatero della Moda

A stroll around the Via Monte Napoleone, Via Spiga, Via Manzoni and Via Sant’Andrea, shows that Milan is a fashion metropolis on par with New York and Paris: this district is packed with exclusive boutiques!

Cotoletta alla Milanese

The crumbed veal cutlet dish is the epitome of Milanese cuisine, along with its saffron risotto, and it is especially good at Le Vigne.


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Milan Marco Polo Guide

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Eat Like a Local – Florence

The Italians love to indulge themselves at the table. They enjoy their food – often dining for hours on end.  And it’s true – you can eat your fill, even in Florence, without breaking the bank.

Florence Marco Polo Guide

Local Specialities to try on your visit to Florence:

Arista alla fiorentina – grilled fillet of pork with rosemary and garlic

Baccalà alla fiorentina – stockfish in tomato sauce with basil

Biscotti di Prato (cantucci) – almond biscuits to be dipped in vin santo, a sweet dessert wine

Bistecca alla fiorentina – a 3.5-cm (1 1/2 in) thick T-bone steak

Carciofi fritti – fried quartered artichokes

Cinghiale (coniglio) in umido – wild boar or rabbit in tomato sauce

Crostini toscani – toasted bread spread with a paste made of chicken liver, capers and fresh herbs

Fagioli all’uccelletto con salsicce – white beans in tomato sauce with sage and pork sausages

Fettunta – toasted slices of white bread: in summer with tomatoes and basil; in winter with garlic and drizzled with freshly pressed olive oil

Lesso (bollito misto) con salsa verde – boiled meat (beef, tongue, chicken) with green herb sauce

Minestrone/zuppa di verdura – thick vegetable soup

Panzanella – a summer salad served on soaked white bread and tomatoes

Pappa al pomodoro – luke-warm tomato and bread soup

Pollo al mattone – chicken, pressed flat under a brick and roasted over a wood fire

Ribollita – re-heated vegetable soup with white beans and bread

Tagliata – steak, stripped from the bone and cut into strips

Tagliatelle alla lepre (al cinghiale) – ribbon noodles with hare or wild boar ragout

Trippa alla fiorentina – calf tripe with tomato sauce


Restaurants serving traditional Italian cuisine:

Expensive (if you sit down at a table), but in a class of its own. Don’t leave town without trying a cioccolata calda con panna (hot chocolate with whipped cream); the Rivoire is as much a part of Florence as the Palazzo Vecchio opposite. Tue–Sun 8am–midnight | Piazza della Signoria 5r

It’s practically impossible to eat well and cheaply in the centre of Florence – but here’s the exception to the rule! Freshly prepared pasta dishes at lunchtime, followed by delicious fish in the evenings. Mon–Sat | Via del Moro 51r | Tel. 0 55 28 54 86

If your palate calls for a glass of good white wine and an exquisite truffle pâté sandwich, rather than sweet snacks, and if you favour a slightly genteel atmosphere, you’ll go crazy for this place! Mon–Sat 10am–8pm | Via Tornabuoni 64r |

At this pleasant cantinetta (wine bar) in the Palazzo Antinori, you can not only sample the famous wines from this winegrowing dynasty, but also try the appetising foods produced on the Antinori estates. This has long been a favourite meeting place for Florentine movers and shakers. Mon–Fri | Piazza Antinori 3r (Via Tornabuoni) | Tel. 0 55 29 22 34 |

For years now, one of the places to be. Florentine society people squeeze into the cramped interior to enjoy superlative cuisine. Closed Sun and Tue evenings | Via del Parioncino 26r | Tel. 0 55 28 71 78 | Moderate |

Mimmo is committed to using only fresh ingredients for his excellent dishes – one more reason to come for a meal at this beautiful 17th-century theatre! Closed Sat lunchtime and Sun | Via S. Gallo 57–59r | Tel. 0 55 48 10 30 | | Moderate

Let Paolo spoil you with a few Florentine delicacies, including the typical bistecca alla fiorentina! Tue–Sun | Via dei Lavatoi 3r | Tel. 05 52 34 48 80 | Moderate

The Florentine clientele have been descending at lunchtime on this Mercato Centrale stand since 1872. Typical dishes at reasonable prices. Mon–Sat 7am–2pm | Mercato Centrale | Via dell’Ariento | Budget


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Eat Like a Local – Venice

Many people think that the ‘cucina veneziana’, with its traditional, exquisite recipes, is still one of the finest cuisines on earth, but there are others who feel that it has been spoiled by mass tourism. Of course, the admirers and the moaners are both right in a way…

Venice Marco Polo Guide

There are still many chefs who create wonderful dishes to tickle the diner’s palate using the great variety of freshly-caught seafood from the Adriatic and fresh, crisp produce from the ‘vegetable islands’ and mainland, but you will equally well find the mass-produced menu turistico at a set price – and often, not a very reasonable one at that. In any case, the Venetian cuisine still has many incomparable specialities, ranging from the dozens of different varieties of pasta to the imaginative frutti di mare and meat dishes and sweet delights from the cake shops.

Those who want to experience everything the gastronomic landscape of the city has to offer, should start off by going to a few bacari (with the stress on the first ‘a’). These simple stand-up bars are the Venetian equivalent of the Spanish tapas bar, the Parisian bistro or the local pub in Britain – an institution, where you can have a glass of wine (an ombra), nibble a couple of delicious snacks (the cicheti), and – first and foremost – have a chat.


Local specialities to try on your visit to Venice:

Carpaccio – Venice’s culinary export hit: wafer-thin slices of raw beef, with a trickle of lemon juice and flakes of Parmesan

Cicheti – Venetian-style tapas: titbits such as small meatballs, tiny fried fish, pickled vegetables, mussels, stuffed olives, slices of polenta, etc.

Fegato alla venexiana – calf’s liver cooked in a white wine and onion stock

Fiori di zucca – pumpkin flowers, usually served stuffed and fried

Fritto misto di mare – fried fish and seafood

Pasta e fagioli – a substantial stew cooked with thick macaroni, white beans and a lot of olive oil and herbs

Risi e bisi – rice with green peas

Risotto nero – creamy, black risotto prepared with squid ink (seppie)

Sarde in soar – a very traditional, very Venetian starter: cooked sardines served cold with a marinade of olive oil, vinegar, wine, raisins and pine nuts

Tramezzini – triangular crust-less sandwiches with cheese, ham, mushrooms, tuna, egg or vegetables and various spreads



Locals usually gather in these generally simply furnished, but extremely cosy wine bars to have a chat with their neighbours – usually standing up, to eat a few tasty titbits (in the case of the osteria, this is a real meal seated at a table) and knock back an ombra, a small glass of white wine that is impossible to imagine Venetian life without. The following are some of the more atmospheric places:

A fine selection of cicheti, pizzas and other delicious things, as well as good wines, just a few yards behind St Mark’s Basilica. Soak up the atmosphere at one of the tables outside if the weather is fine. Daily (sometimes closed Wed in winter) | Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo, 4357 | tel. 04 15 22 42 92 | stop: San Zaccaria

Fans of excellent fish – come right in! There is a different menu every day which includes specialities such as spaghetti with scampi or squid, fish gnocchi or risotto, dried cod in salt, and much more. Closed Sun | Calle Ciacinto Gallina, 5401 | tel. 04 15 23 81 53 | stop: Ospedale

This is the oldest bacaro in Venice and has been here near the fish market for over 500 years. Countless pots and copper kettles hang from the ceiling and more than 100 different wines await you at the bar. All of this with many kinds of tramezzini and other snacks. Closed Sun and after 8.30pm | Calle dei Do Mori, 429 | tel. 04 15 22 54 01 | stop: Rialto



Good, home-style cooking – something that sounds as simple as that is almost a rarity in Venice these days. At noon, local workers drop in and choose from the two or three primi and secondi of the day. In the evening, the fare is a bit more upmarket – the fish is excellent. No wonder that it will be hard to find a table if you haven’t reserved. Closed Mon evening and Tue | Barbaria de le Tole, 6671 | tel. 04 15 22 06 19 | stop: Ospedale

The chef in this small restaurant, not even a three minute walk from the railway station, has devoted himself to the preparation of freshly-caught creatures from the Adriatic and from the lagoon. In summer, meals are served outside on the Campo with a view of the magnificent Palazzo Labia. Daily | Campo San Geremia, 307 | tel. 0 41 71 69 68 | stop: Ferrovia

A lovely trip with the Line 13 vaporetto will take you to the island of Vignole. From May to September, you can have a pleasant meal surrounded by greenery after taking a short stroll through the vegetable fields. Self-service, large selection, hearty cooking. Closed Mon | Isola Delle Vignole | tel. 04 15 28 97 07 | stop: Vignole



Creative cooking focussing on sophisticated fish dishes and a list of more than 600 (!) wines draw people to this smartly designed restaurant at the eastern end of the Zattere. Unforgettable: a meal on the wooden pontoon terrace directly over the water. Closed Wed | Zattere/Ponte dell’Unita, 19 | tel. 04 12 41 18 18 | | stop: Salute

For generations, Venetian gourmands and gourmets have travelled over to Burano to eat in this trattoria that is famous far and near. The splendid cuisine focuses on fish that is cooked here with great care over a charcoal fire. Closed Sun evening and Tue in summer, every evening in winter | Via Baldassarre Galuppi, 221 | tel. 0 41 73 00 30 | | stop: Burano

There are not many other places in Venice where you can eat as well as here. From risotto to zabaione, from the perfectly grilled steak to the fried fish, the chef really shows that he is an artist. The atmosphere is tasteful but not ostentatious, the prices not low but justified. Closed Wed lunchtime and Tue | Salizzada San Giovanni Crisostomo, 5719 | tel. 04 15 28 52 81 | | stop: Rialto



This modestly furnished restaurant is not easy to find but you will be rewarded with an excellent selection of first-class fish. It takes some time to get used to the fact that the specials of the day are not listed on the menu but rattled off by the lady of the house in Italian. Our tip: trust the chef and order an opulent plate of antipasti. But, be careful: quality has a price! Closed Sun/Mon | Calle del Pestrin, 3886 | tel. 04 15 22 70 24 | stop: Arsenale

This restaurant, with its brick walls and mirrors and minimalistic, elegant atmosphere, only has enough room for a maximum of 13 guests. It is therefore not surprising that you need to reserve well in advance and that Gianni Bonacorsi charges €5 for the coperto. In return, he serves his guests culinary highlights of supreme quality. Of course, there is pasta and rice served with amazing wines every day; the meat, fish and other exquisite ingredients vary with what the market supplies. Closed Thu at noon and Wed | Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo, 4509 | tel. 04 15 20 82 80 | | stop: San Zaccaria

At the western end of the Zattere, the owners Monica and Luca pamper their guests in cosy surroundings, with excellent cooking and fine wines. It is especially delightful eating outside on a sunny day with a view of Giudecca across the wide canal. Closed Wed lunchtime and Mon | Fondamenta Zattere Ponte Lungo, 1473 | tel. 04 15 22 76 21 | | stop: San Basilio


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Eat Like a Local – Milan

Milan Marco Polo Guide

This city is always on the move and it doesn’t rest when it comes to food: no sooner is a restaurant the hot new spot when it is replaced just as quickly by another. There is no shortage to choose from and the selection ranges from pizzerias to gourmet restaurants (in the middle of May there is a gourmet weekend at the San Siro racecourse, But the problem with Milan’s restaurants – and with its accommodation – are the prices. Having a traditional meal is very expensive. Anti pasto, primo (pasta, rice or a soup), secondo (main course of meat or fish) with contorno (side dish), dolce (dessert) and/or formaggio (cheese), a good bottle of wine (not to be missed), mancia (the tip) and, of course, pane e coperto (bread and place setting) – all that easily adds up to €80 or €90 for two. 

Those who watch what they eat and/or what they spend may skip one or two dishes, no proprietor will feel offended (but you should really have a primo or a secondo). Thankfully, some restaurants now offer large salads for lunch or a piatto unico, a one-course daily menu. The inexpensive house wine (vino della casa) usually goes well with that. There is also a large variety of sandwiches (€3–4), salads (€4–5) and delicious primi (from €5) available at many bars during lunchtime. Nowadays most office workers eat this way. Those who want to save money go to a pizzeria (in the evening) or to a traditional latteria.


Local specialities to try on your visit to Milan:

Amaretti – small, round almond biscuits

Bresaola – dried beef, cut in paper thin slices

Busecca – tripe stew with beans

Cassoeula – pork stew with sausage and cabbage, served with polenta

Cotoletta milanese – crumbed veal, either a cutlet or escalope

Gnervitt (nervetti) – pressed beef cartilage with oil, vinegar and onions, a typical antipasto

Grana – Lombard variant of parmigiano cheese

Gremolata – spicy sauce with herbs, garlic and lemon zest, often served with ossobuco

Mascarpone – full-fat, very creamy cream cheese, ideal for desserts

Minestrone alla milanese – vegetable soup with rice and toasted croutons

Ossobuco – sliced veal shank braised with vegetables

Panettone – a light Christmas sweet bread with raisins and candied orange that originated in Milan

(Pesce) persico – perch, e.g. deepfried, speciality of Lake Como

Pizzoccheri – short, flat ribbon noodles made from buckwheat flour served with Savoy cabbage and potatoes, speciality of Valtellina

Risotto milanese – rice from the surrounding areas (best types: Arborio, Vialone or Carnaroli), sautéed with onions and butter and simmered with saffron and stock, served sprinkled with Parmesan – a culinary delight

Taleggio – an aromatic soft cheese from the Lombardy mountains

Tortelli di zucca – small pasta pockets filled with pumpkin, a speciality of

Zuppa pavese – meat broth with a piece of toast topped with a poached egg


Restaurants serving traditional Italian cuisine:

Elegant and traditional: homemade pastries have been sold here since 1817. A meeting place for customers of the exclusive fashion boutiques. Closed Sun | Via Monte Napoleone 8 | Metro: M 1 San Babila

Flower shop and bar – a charming combination. Light meals are also available at lunchtime. Closed Sun | Piazza Mirabello 1 | Metro: M 2 Moscova

You will probably have to queue to get one of Milan’s best ice creams. Branches include one on the Corso Buenos Aires 13 (Metro: M 1 Porta Venezia) and the Via Santa Margherita 16 (Metro: M 1, M 3 Duomo) |  | Daily

This eclectic elegant restaurant south of the Università Cattolica proves with its inexpensive lunch that Milan is a good place to eat fish. Closed Sun | Via Ausonio 23 | tel. 02 89 40 61 72 | | Metro: M 2 Sant’Agostino, Bus 94

Pappardelle with duck ragout, roast boar and juicy steaks: fans of Tuscan meal dishes will get their money’s worth in this restaurant, close to the Giardini Pubblici. Brunch available on Sundays with a babysitting option. Daily | Via Panfilo Castaldi 33 | tel. 02 29 52 66 68 | | Metro: M 1 Porta Venezia

This restaurant’s small, frequently changing menu is based on what is offered in the markets in the morning. Daily | Corso Garibaldi 127 | tel. 0 26 57 06 51 | Metro: M 2 Moscova

You should know at least a little Italian if you’re thinking of coming here because there is no menu: the hostess will tell you what is on offer. You can’t go wrong with any of the home cooked traditional Milanese and Lombardy dishes. Closed Sat for lunch and Sun | Via Mercalli 3 | tel. 02 58 30 96 04 | tram 15, bus 94


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Milan Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Venice

Unique experiences in the city of canals!

Venice Marco Polo Guide

Gondola ride
Many visitors feel that a ride in one of these icons of the city is the epitome of romance. Anybody who has ever glided over the waters of the peaceful canals will never forget it.

Sun-downer or dinner at the Rialto
The district on the bank of the Canal Grande between the fish market and Fabbriche Vecchie has the reputation of being a really trendy place. You will understand why if you feast on, or sip, the specialities served at one of the tables in the open air.

Marathon alla veneziana
The people who live in the city on the lagoon are keen rowers. When it is warm a regatta is held every couple of days, when the locals – spurred on by dense rows of supporters – lean into their oars for all it’s worth. The highlight of the season is the Vogalonga in May.

The glass-blowing Mecca
For centuries, Murano glass has been famous for its high quality and a visit to one of the famous studios is a must. Standing in front of the furnace, you will be amazed when you see how the master craftsmen create a fragile work of art out of the glowing mass through ‘only’ a long puff and amazing skill.

Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto & Co
From momentous Biblical scenes by the great masters of the Renaissance to the genre and landscape paintings of the Baroque period: nowhere else can art lovers find such a wealth from the quintessence of 500 years of Venetian painting of this quality than in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

The classic carnival
Every year, the Venetians revel in a feast for all the senses from the middle of January to Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

Long promenade on the waterside
When there is still snow on the mainland, the first sunrays of spring tickle the skin on the Zattere in Dorsoduro. But a walk along the quay with a view over the Giudecca Canal is sure to warm your heart.


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Venice Marco Polo Guide

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Top 10 Things To Do On Sicily

Marco Polo’s list of the top 10 things not to be missed on Sicily! Our best recommendations – from the top down – help you to plan your tour of Sicily’s most important sights.

Sicily Marco Polo Guide

The sublime mosaics in the Duomo di Monreale are simply breathtaking – a medieval picture bible in the form of glass and coloured tiles.

The snow-covered symbol of the Island of Fire is also Europe’s largest and most active volcano. It is ideal for hikes or excursions by cable-car and Jeep.

Dazzling honey-coloured Greek temples loom high up above the glittering blue water of the Strait of Sicily.

Baroque born out of a catastrophe: after the devastating earthquake of 1693, the nobility funded new towns with churches, palazzi and villas. Noto is one of the most splendid examples of this.

The Ionian Sea and the summit of Mount Etna form the backdrop for the ruins of the ancient Teatro Greco in Taormina – a breathtaking sight in Sicily’s most fashionable seaside resort.

One of the world’s finest archaeological museums, a magnificent cathedral, early Christian catacombs and a mysterious cavern all make Syracuse a top destination on any trip to Sicily.

Every floor surface in this sumptuous late-Roman villa in Piazza Armerina is magnificently decorated with mosaics, including those showing the famous Bikini Girls.

An unusual combination: a short distance away from the magnificent temples of Selinunte is the fishing village Marinella, one of the most charming resorts on the south coast.

The kings of Sicily, including the powerful Frederick II – “the marvel of the world” – rest here in colossal sarcophagi made of porphyry.

The towers of the cathedral are set against a backdrop of the rugged mass of La Rocca, high above the picturesque seaside resort.


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Sicily Marco Polo Guide

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Eat Like a Local Rome

When in Rome, eat as the Romans do! Roman food is based on its ancient past and demonstrates simple, yet delicious cuisine!

Marco Polo Rome Guide

Italian specialities you should try on your visit to Rome:

Abbacchio alla scottadito – roast lamb with rosemary potatoes

Baccalà – dried cod, often with peas

Bollito misto – mixed boiled meats, usually served with a green sauce

Bucatini all’amatriciana – pasta with tomato sauce, bacon and pecorino

Carciofi alla giudea/romana – artichokes fried in oil

Carpaccio di manzo – thin raw slices of fillet of beef with rocket leaves and parmesan

Carpaccio di pesce – thin marinated slices of swordfish or tuna

Ciammotta – deep-fried vegetables

Coniglio alla cacciatora – rabbit braised in the oven with rosemary

Fave e pecorino – beans with pecorino

Finanziera – stew of chicken, sweetbread and mushrooms

Garofolato – braised beef

Gnocchi salvia e burro – small potato dumplings with sage and butter

Insalata di puntarelle – bitter salad leaves with garlic and anchovies

Orecchiette – ear-shaped pasta, often served with broccoli and scampi

Pagliata – calf’s intestines with penne pasta

Panzanella – white bread with tomatoes, oil and chopped basil as a salad

Panzarottini – pasta bake with cheese and egg

Pasta e fagioli – penne or other fresh pasta with bean soup

Pesce spada – swordfish with lemon and oil, usually grilled

Pollo al diavolo – spicy chicken

Porchetta – slices of suckling pig on a roll, usually served cold at a stall

Saltimbocca – slice of veal with sage and parma ham

Scamorza con prosciutto – smoked cheese with ham

Trippa alla romana – tripe, usually served with vegetables

Marco Polo Rome Guide

Restaurants serving traditional Italian cuisine:

Gelateria Giolitti 

Rome’s most famous ice-cream parlour has been in business since 1900. Traditionalists order the bacio chocolate ice-cream or the truffle ice. Fruit sorbets, particularly the champagne and ginger flavours, are also chart-toppers here. Open Daily 7am–2am | Via Uffici del Vicario 40 | Bus 62, 63 |

La Veranda

In the Baroque courtyard of the Hotel Columbus near the Vatican you can enjoy modern Roman food such as rabbit chasseur. Open Tuesday–Sunday | Via della Conciliazione 33 | Tel. 066 87 29 73 | Bus 40, 62

Vincenzo alla Lungaretta

A cosy eatery where cannelloni, lasagne and pizza come from the wood-fired oven. Try the imaginative antipasti, which includes stuffed aubergines, pepperoni and artichokes. Open daily | Via della Lungaretta 170/173 | Tel. 0 65 80 03 45 | Tram 8, Bus 780

Il Bocconcino

Right behind the Colosseum, Giancarlo and his wife Nelly have opened a slow-food trattoria that has been a real hit in the locality. Try their traditional Roman-style starters such as polpette di melanzane e pinoli (aubergine dumplings with pine kernels), crostini di alici (toasted bread with anchovies) or spezzatino di vitella (veal stew with beans). Open Thursday–Tuesday | Via Ostilia 23 | Tel. 06 77 07 91 75 | Tram 3, Bus 60, 75, 81, 85, 117 |

Hostaria Romanesca

A restaurant situated in the buzzing and colourful Campo de’ Fiori, a square located south of Piazza Navona and means “field of flowers”. It serves classic Roman dishes such as spaghetti carbonara and pollo ai peperoni. A reservation is necessary in the evenings! Open daily | Campo de’ Fiori 40 | Tel. 0 66 86 20 24 | Bus 116

Il Boscaiolo

A pizzeria north of the Fontana di Trevi with a wide selection of toppings and thin, crispy dough. The salads here are delicious too! Open Tuesday–Sunday (evenings only) | Via degli Artisti 37 | Tel. 0 64 88 40 23 | Metro A: Barberini


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Rome Marco Polo Guide

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Top 10 Things To Do In Tuscany

Marco Polo’s list of the top 10 things not to be missed in Tuscany! Our best recommendations – from the top down – help you to plan your tour of this beautiful region’s most important sights.

Tuscany Marco Polo Guide

The square with its white and green ensemble – the cathedral, bell tower and baptistry – is one of our top attractions not least of all due to Brunelleschi’s dome.

Thanks to the strict building regulations introduced back in the Middle Ages, nothing spoils the harmony and beauty of this shell-shaped square.

The fresco cycle ‘Legends of the True Cross’ in the Basilica of San Francesco is one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance.

This is where the city’s true importance can be seen – the breathtakingly beautiful cathedral and the extraordinary history of Santa Maria della Scala opposite.

Renaissance architects designed the ideal town here on the orders of Pope Pius II, displaying a sense of scale and proportion so typical of the Tuscans.

The gleaming white architectural ‘miracle’ – the cathedral, baptistry, the Campo Santo and the Leaning Tower – rises above the Campo dei Miracoli.

The taller the tower, the more powerful the family – this small town owes its skyline to this medieval competition in the name of vanity.

The Benedictine abbey near the little Brunello-producing town is the most beautiful of the Romanesque jewels in this area.

The hall church was built for the local populace. Because many people could not read, young, unknown artists, including a certain Giotto di Bondone, painted the Gospel on the walls.

The Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is like a case study in the history of urban planning – in the course of time the tiers of seats for spectators in the Roman amphitheatre were built on and turned into houses.


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Tuscany Marco Polo Guide

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Top 10 Things To Do In Lake Garda

Marco Polo’s list of the top 10 things not to be missed in Lake Garda! Our best recommendations – from the top down – help you to plan your tour of this beautiful lake’s most important sights. 

Lake Garda Marco Polo Guide

Beautifully located on the south of the lake, Sirmione boasts one of the best preserved moated fortresses in Europe.

The 13th-century Castello Scaligero is one of the best-known landmarks in Lake Garda. Monte Baldo, a place to escape the heat of summer down on the water.

With its wonderful lakeside promenade (Lungolago), Punta di San Vigilio around the corner and Isola del Garda a few minutes away by boat, the variety of attractions Lake Garda has to offer can all be enjoyed from just one place.

Reminders of the town’s eventful history can be seen all down Lungolago, one of the most elegant promenades on the lake with a sophisticated atmosphere to match.

This little town became the haunt of poets, writers and philosophers at the turn of the 20th century. Its grandezza and beautiful architecture can still be seen today.

Who wouldn’t want to sit on Verona’s world-famous square, gazing at the Roman amphitheatre and dream of being Romeo or Juliet?

Shakespeare may be better known but the memorial in the centre of Verona honours another great writer, the poet Dante Alighieri who wrote his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, in this city.

Verona’s ‘belly’ – its market – provides a stage for everyday life, set against a magnificent backdrop of palazzi from various eras and the Torre dei Lamberti.

The Città Alta (Old Town) with the Piazza Vecchia is one of the most beautiful places in northern Italy. Simply taking the funicolare from the lower town is an experience in itself.

Framed by wooded slopes in the southern foothills of the Alps, Lago d’Iseo has the longest lake island in Central Europe – Monte Isola – with a scattering of idyllic villages, olive groves, cherry and chestnut trees.


Buy the Lake Garda Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Lake Garda Marco Polo Guide

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Low Budget Milan

Want to explore Milan on a budget? Here are Marco Polo’s top tips for the best ways to explore this fantastic city without spending a fortune:

 Milan Marco Polo Guide


There is no entrance fee for the Orto Botanico di Brera, a magnificent oasis of calm in the middle of town, behind the Pinacoteca di Brera. Open Mon–Fri 9am–noon and 3pm–5pm, Sat 10am– 5pm | Via Brera 28 | Metro: M 2 Lanza, M 3 Monte Napoleone, Tram 4, 12, 14.

Entrance to the Museo del Novecento and the museums in the Castello Sforzesco are free on Fridays from 2pm and on the other days entrance is free one hour before closing time. Visitors under 25 years of age always enjoy free admission.

Check out the websites of the contemporary art foundations of fashion houses such as Prada ( or Trussardi ( for details of the interesting temporary installations – these events are often free of charge. (Second website in Italian.)


Insider tip: Follow the office workers in their lunch break to one of the affordable self-serve restaurants, such as the Farina e Commodore | Closed Sat and Sun | Via Turati 7 | Metro: M 3 Turati.

Many sophisticated upmarket restaurants offer inexpensive dishes during pausa pranzo or lunch break.

Standing at the counter is cheaper than sitting at tables as some things are around half the price: espressos, cappuccinos, ice creams etc.

BOTTIGLERIA DA PINO: An old-fashioned trattoria with substantial regional meals at reasonable prices, in the city centre. Closed Tue for lunch and Sun | Via Cerva 14 | Tel. 02 76 02 19 11 | Metro: M 1 San Babila.

TRATTORIA L’INCORONATA: This restaurant’s small, frequently changing menu is based on what is offered in the markets that morning. Daily | Corso Garibaldi 127 | Tel. 0 26 57 06 51 | Metro: M 2 Moscova.

ANTICA HOSTERIA DELLA LANTERNA: You should know at least a little Italian if you’re thinking of coming here because there is no menu: the hostess will tell you what is on offer. You can’t go wrong with any of the home cooked traditional Milanese and Lombardy dishes. Closed Sat for lunch and Sun | Via Mercalli 3 | Tel. 02 58 30 96 04 | Tram 15, Bus 94.


An Armani suit or Prada shoes often just remain a dream once you have seen the price tag. But this is not the case at the many outlet stores, where expensive pieces are sometimes marked down by as much as 50%. Souvenirs such as wallets, ties or scarves cost little more than the average quality goods in the department stores. For example at D Magazine (Via Monte Napoleone 26 | Metro: M 3 Monte Napoleone) or Matia’s Outlet (Piazza Mirabello 4 | Metro: M 3 Turati).

Twice a year during the saldi (in January and the end of June/start of July) the big brand shops have sales with 40–60% discounts.


In the wine shop La Vineria on the Naviglio Grande you can get a glass of wine for 1 euro at the small sidewalk tables, or 5 euros for a litre. Via Casale 4 | Metro: M 2 Porta Genova.

During the winter season, you can enjoy free organ concerts in Milan’s churches as part of the series of concerts, ‘Cantatibus Organis’.

An evening in La Scala for 10 euros? If you are under 30, you can get a ticket to the anteprima or dress rehearsals.

A free viewing point, that is especially atmospheric in the evening, is the café terrace of the department store, La Rinascente, on the cathedral square. Open until 10pm, it gives an up-close view of the illuminated cathedral and the activity on the square.


Albert Hotel: It comes as an unexpected surprise to find such a pleasant hotel on a busy street close to the train station. The friendly service is impressive! 62 rooms | Via Tonale/Via Sammartini | Tel. 02 66 98 54 46 | | Metro: M 2, M 3 Centrale.

The Best Hotel: Close to the main train station and the Corso Buenos Aires shopping area, with affordable, convenient and decent rooms. The hotel even has a small and delightful garden. 28 rooms | Via Marcello 83 | Tel. 02 29 40 47 57 | | Metro: M 1 Lima.

The Ostello della Gioventù Piero Rotta youth hostel has been renovated in an eco-friendly manner, in the west of Milan. Via Salmoiraghi | | Metro: M 1 QT8.

On the Hostelbookers website you will find a whole range of low budget hostels at prices starting from 28 euros per person.


Buy the Milan Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Milan Marco Polo Guide

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