AO Journal

Destination Milan: Where to Shop and Stay and Dine and Play

Refined and sophisticated, cutting edge and rich with culture, Northern Italy's capital city Milan is filled with chic bars, attention-getting restaurants and antiquities galore. While Rome, Florence and the Amalfi Coast often grab the spotlight, Milan is one Italian city is one to experience. 

Whether you attend fall's Fashion Week, the recent Salone del Mobile held every April or simply on holiday, here are a few noteworthy pursuits for your address book.

Where to Stay

Milan has no shortage of fashionable design-rich hotels such as the Armani Hotel Milano. Located at Quadrilatero della Moda and close to the shopping streets of Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spigga, it exudes designer Giorgio Armani's style and lifestyle philosophy. Housed in an 18th-century Milanese palazzo, the ultra-stylish  Bulgari Hotel Milano offers courtyard and garden filled spaces that are a quiet departure from the busy streets of Milan. And if it's charm and history you are after, gallery owner Rita Fanscaly recommends Grand Hotel et de Milan

Armani Milano Hotel represents the best of the namesake designer's philosophy


Where to Dine and Play

Fine dining is not only a tradition in Milan, it is also a religious experience and the restaurants will not disappoint. Dining by one of the two pools at Cesario 7 offers a unique 360-degree view of Milan along with fashionable people watching. Bice's homemade pasta (pappardelle al telefono is a crowd favorite), osso buco with risotto and fresh fish are traditional Tuscan dishes at the popular eatery. Located in Emporio Armani's store, Nobu Milano is a hot spot for both lunch and dinner and the best in contemporary Italian and Japanese dishes. For classic Tuscan cuisine, Rita Fanscaly favors the historic Trattoria Torre Di Pisa. And when the sun goes down, Bar Luce - Foundazione Prada (check out film director Wes Anderson's designs) and Nottingham Forest (voted one of the best bars in the world) are always hopping.

Nobu Milano offers a mix of Italian and Japanese cuisines in a setting that is classic Armani


Where to Shop

Whether you are a connoisseur or simply looking for hidden treasures, be sure to stop by ArtOrigo's Rita Fancsaly Gallery. Located in the city's Brera district, Fancsaly and her husband, architect and decorative arts author Franco Deboni specialize in Murano glass and Italian decorative pieces from the 1930s to 1990s. Celebrating three-plus decades in business, her husband introduced her to the beauty of Murano and today she is the go-to spot for collectors and designers.

credit: Rita Fancsaly


Nina Yashar's Nilufar Gallery on Via della Spiga, 32 features her love of historical design and mix of different styles of decor (furniture, fabrics, lighting, accessories and rugs) from France and Tibet to Scandinavia and India. As the first Italian dealer to present at the famed Art Basel in Miami in 2005, Yashar's discovery of designer Martino Gamper coupled with her vision, intriguing exhibitions and works from Piero Fornasetti, Gio Ponti and Mollino have placed the ArtOrigo gallery member on the map.

credit: Courtesy of Mattia Balsamini


What to See 

Design enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Design Museum's La Triennale di Milano for unique decorative arts and one-of-a-kind exhibitions that includes 1,600 Italian design objects dating back to 1927. Fans of the 2009 indie I Am Love should take a guided tour through the 1930s home Villa Necchi Campiglio where the movie was filmed. If ballet, theatre and opera is of interest, add the famed 200-year-old Teatro all Scala to your itinerary. And no visit to Milan would be complete without seeing Duomo di Milano, Milan's Gothic designed 600-year-old cathedral. Go for the history, 3,500 statues, extravagantly detailed architecture and the rooftop views.

credit: Magnolia Pictures