How to Love Milan as Much as the Rest of Italy

Milan at night via Flickr.

Milan at night via Flickr.

Last post, my Italian roommate Diana helped us all see the light of day by explaining why we should love Milan. Now, she tells us how it’s possible.

Beat the prices

[In Diana’s words]: Milan is a very expensive city, so in order to love it without draining your wallet, I recommend:

-Not eating pizza in front of the Duomo. Or doing anything in front of the Duomo. I spent 5 euros on a coffee in that plaza once. Check out Milan Low Cost, a guide on where to go and where to eat on a budget.

-Finding cheaper places to stay in Milan, far from the Moscova city center. I’ve never stayed in hotels there (I had my own flat), but I loved the hostel Ostello Bello. It has a really cool, laid-back common room and bar attached, and I would often go with friends there to have an aperitivo. Which leads me to. . . .

-Having aperitivo, not dinner. I once spent 25 euros on a hamburger and soda in Milan. It’s not a cheap place to dine out, but if you take advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffets that many bars put out during aperitivo time, you can eat amazingly, for cheap. Corso Sempione is an avenue with a ton of cool bars and restaurants, and many offer aperitivo.  [Editor’s note: Read up on How NOT to Approach the Italian Aperitivo beforehand ;) ]

Check out my favorites

Restaurant: Ostaria La Lanterna. This place is owned by an elderly couple, and it’s a totally seedy, unimpressive bar from the looks of it. There are a couple of tables and the owners only speak the Milan dialect, so I can never understand a thing they say. They don’t even have a menu–they just tell you what they have that day, always typical Milan dishes, and everything is amazing.

Aperitivo Bar: La Trattoria Toscana. This restaurant is hidden in the center of the city. You pass through a narrow entranceway and they lead you through the kitchen, and then suddenly you enter a huge open patio with a fountain, plants, and strings of lights. The restaurant is expensive, but they offer an amazing aperitivo–focaccia, pizza, crostini, baked potatoes with bacon, salad, pasta and more–for as little as the price of a beer (maybe 6 or 7 euros).

Milan Dish: La Cassuela (a sort of meat stew). Runner-up: Risotto allo zafferano (Risotto with saffron).

Annual Event: Design Week in April. It’s a festival that takes place in an industrial zone in the outskirts of Milan. It would take you three days to see everything. If you can visit Milan during Design Week, I highly recommend it. Big design brands, mostly in furniture, showcase their products. Milan’s Polytechnic University is the best in Italy for design, and I lived with three designers so it was the ultimate event of the year for our flat.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t care much about seeing all the furniture and things, but there are parties all over the city that are free to enter, and you can eat and drink and hear great DJs. It’s just a really fun cultural event, and something that is more accessible to the average person than the ultra exclusive Fashion Week.

Milanese saying:Fai no el baüscia” which means “don’t exaggerate.” This is so typical Milan, because the people there are always trying to be so prim and proper and put together. But telling an Italian not to exaggerate is like telling an Italian to not be Italian.


Thanks so much, Diana!

Have you ever visited Milan? Is it a place you’d like to go, or return if you’ve been before?