Fox Guide: Milan
Culturally rich, geographically stunning, gastronomically enchanting (and home to our very own Pale Fox) we believe Italy has it all! We head to Milan, the cosmopolitan centre of Italy driven by fashion and finance.
Things to do
The fabric of Milan is woven into its beautiful duomo, which we suggest that you wander around before catching the lift to the rooftop terraces. Here you can see the elaborate spires and statues up close. The Cathedral itself took over five centuries to complete and merges the international Gothic style with the Lombard Romanesque style.
Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest shopping centre, and it is magnificent architecturally with marble floors and an impressive dome. For this reason, it is often nicknamed ‘il salotto di Milano’ (Milan’s drawing-room). The shops sell luxury items but it is worthwhile doing some window shopping here and around the Quadrilatero d’Oro, arguably the world’s most famous fashion district. In the Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II you will also notice people taking turns to spin on the balls of a mosaic bull on the floor. If you manage to complete three spins on your heel, you will have good luck for the rest of the year!
Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan had the Castello Sforzesco erected in the 15th century upon the ruins of an older fort. Today, it houses exhibitions, art collections and museums within its walls. After visiting as many museums as you have time for you should stroll through the surrounding Parco Sempione which is scattered with architectural gems.
Milan is heavy on masterpieces. In the city, you can find Leonardo da Vinci’s memorable ‘The Last Supper’ at the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie. However, be sure to book tickets a few months in advance. Instead of earlier static representations of Christ's last meal with his disciples, da Vinci presents a more dramatic and fluid depiction of the scene. Milan was Da Vinci’s home for several years, so if the crowds around ‘The Last Supper’ are too heavy then first visit the renaissance house, Casa degli Atellani, opposite that once belonged to the man himself.
Seeing an opera at La Scala Opera house is a once in a lifetime experience, not only due to the talent of the performers but the glorious building. It is tricky to get your hands on a ticket, however, if you visit the box office an hour before a show starts, any leftover or returned tickets are sold at a discount. Many famous operas have had their first production in La Scala, such as Othello, Nabucco by Verdi or Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.
Turning to the modern era, visit the Fondazione Prada, an old distillery on the edge of the centre. Miuccia Prada has filled it with her personal collection of art, boundary-pushing exhibitions with works by artists from Koons to Hurst.
Home to some of Italy’s most iconic dishes and ingredients there are many delights that you won’t want to miss. The cuisine of the Lombardy area is quite different to what you consider typically Italian. The cuisine is rich and hearty and usually pairs well with red wines high in tannins. For example, a local produce is Gorgonzola DOP, one of the world’s oldest blue-veined cheese, it is named after a small town just outside of Milano.
Head to the Ngigli District for your early evening aperitif or post–dinner bar. The neighbourhood is vibrant and runs along the canals. We suggest that you pull up a stool at Rita & Cocktails for a Gin Zen or Rebelot for a sublime glass of wine.
Whilst you’re in Milan remember that anything ‘alla Milanese’ will be a local speciality. One of them being cotoletta alla Milanese, a boned veal joint which is breaded and tender. Risotto alla Milanese is also a staple but the main ingredient is expensive saffron which gives the dish its unique flavour and yellow tint. You’ll want to head to Cracco on via Victor Hugo if you want to try either of these dishes at Michelin-star standard.
If you are looking for a more modest outing, eight-table wonder Latteria San Marco is a local’s spot to dig into these Lombardy dishes from polenta with porcini to octopus salad. Polenta is cornmeal that can be prepared in many ways and paired with a variety of ingredients.