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

What’s the best thing you have ever tasted in Milan? Comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

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

What’s the best thing you have ever tasted in Milan? Comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

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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