During my first visit, I fell head over heels for Milan instantly, just as I did with Paris and Rome. I visited Milan twice during my four-week Italian adventure in early 2012….the first time for two nights, the second time for four. People like to hate on Milan. They don’t find it comparable with other Italian cities and some even say “It’s just like New York” and “There’s nothing to see there besides The Last Supper.” This is not true.
I was captivated by the pace, vibe and rhythm of the city, and knew that I could count it among Paris and Rome as a European non-English speaking city where I could live, and I swear I’m not just saying this. I even shared this with a friend who is lucky enough to call Milan home and he gave me an anonymous shout out on his blog. The thing about Milan is that it’s not as “in your face” as some of the other Italian cities. You have to get to know it.
Last night, a friend posted a photo from Al Pont de Ferr–an extraordinary restaurant–on Facebook which triggered some wistful reminiscing and severe Milan pangs on my end. So I thought I’d share some reasons why I love Milan – The Last Supper, The Duomo & Galleria excluded – because there are plenty of other things to see and do there. This list is in no particular order and is by no means exhaustive as I look forward to scraping further below the Milan surface and adding to this. So here they are (for now)…
- The aforementioned vibe, pace & rhythm.
- Lots of Italian is spoken, of course.
- Identita Golose – need I say more?
- Unparalleled people watching. The Milanese give the Parisians a run for their money.
- The cartone for Raphael’s “The School of Athens“–one of my most favorite paintings EVER–is on display in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.
- Al Pont de Ferr & the glorious candied onion stuffed with goat cheese and onion relish sitting atop a bed of black sesame. (Pictured above.) One of the greatest things I have ever eaten in my whole entire life. I think about it daily.
- Alice Ristorante & chef Viviana Varese’s Pasta con Patate. Another dish that I think about daily.
- Chestnut bread from Princi
- The 160 conetto con marmellata at Pave.
- Carrot thyme risotto from Ratana.
- Michelangelo’s last Pieta, an unfinished sculpture, is on display inside the Museum of Ancient Art at the Castello Sforzesco. It’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to stand to a Buonarotti sans the crowds.
- It’s the setting for the second vignette in Ieri, Oggi, Domani starring the ravishing Sophia Loren and the late & great Marcello Mastroianni. If you haven’t seen it, Netflix it immediately.
- The 1913 founding of Prada.
- Beautiful, recently restored frescos in San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore.
- Villa Necchi Campiglio – I know this is kind of cliche, but I can’t help it. I love Io Sono L’Amore.
- The architectural juxtaposition of modern and old is like nowhere else I have seen in Italy.