Last Updated on 3 July 2017
By Federica Raggio – I am a gardener and blogger. Milan is my city and I enjoy exploring its nooks and crannies to bring you the best that it has to offer. I usually travel around by bike to bring you the best that the city has to offer including the fabulous hideaways listed in every local’s secret address book.
Read Federica’s tips on www.wheremilan.com/discovermilano
Amidst evocative scenery, hidden gardens and gourmet specialties, get a taste of the high life with our pick of the best spots to enjoy Milan’s unmissable Happy Hour and the best eateries for casual and smart outdoor dining.
Milan is fast-paced metropolis. As dusk falls, people begin looking to unwind after a long day’s work. This is probably the reason why the Milanese invented the Aperitivo ritual, also known as Happy Hour. Suddenly the rush is over and fabulously unexpected places begin to tempt in those in search of a little relaxation. You often hear that Milan is a hidden city and, guess what, you’re absolutely right, the beauty of Milan is behind closed doors. The best spots recommended by us are often unknown to visitors who happen to be passing through. Our aim is to offer visitors the most beautiful sunsets which, in a city devoid of hills like Rome and Florence, are only spectacular when viewed from some of the city’s most unique rooftop venues. We are honored to open our secret gardens to share those hidden spaces that make us proud of our discretion. A door suddenly opens and you unexpectedly find yourself in a place that literally takes your breath away.
Having an Aperitivo or eating dinner at one of the city’s finest hotels is a luxury that few can afford. If these places have an outdoor dining area then the stakes increase. At places like this, Milan’s 19th century soul meets fashion and design and the combo is pure perfection. This is the best way to discover the city’s most glitzy hotel bars and restaurants without having to book in for the night! Here are several of this year’s most highly recommended choices.
Surrounded by a magnificient garden, the Acanto restaurant (Hotel Principe di Savoia) boasts a fresh Italian cuisine with an innovative touch (Piazza della Repubblica, 17. www. dorchestercollection.com). The garden of the Bulgari restaurant (Bulgari hotel) is a real oasis in the heart of Milan. Elegantly designed in perfect keeping with Brera’s nearby Botanical Garden, it offers Mediterranean cuisine with a prevalence of fish dishes (via privata Fratelli Gabba, 7b. www.bulgarihotels.com). La Veranda restaurant of famed Four Seasons Hotel Milano (via del Gesù, 6/8. www.fourseasons. com/milano) has a new revamped outdoor area that can be experienced at any time. The hclub>diana at the Sheraton Diana Majestic is one of the city’s best kept secrets. A sleek, glammed up “Sex and the City” destination (viale Piave, 42. www.hclub-diana.it). Lastly, at Magna Pars Suites, cocktails and dinner are served around the garden or on its terraces and its seasonal menu will not disappoint (via Forcella, 6. www.magnaparssuitesmilano.it).
MILAN FROM ABOVE
For a classier night of inebriation, when summer rolls around, get yourself to one of the city’s best rooftop outdoor dining spots. Milan offers spectacular views from countless terraces not all of which are owned by those privileged few boasting “a room with a view”. An Aperitivo with a magnificent view over the city’s skyline is one of the latest Milanese fads and, this year, more than ever before, lots of hot places are just waiting to be discovered.
The Terrazza di via Palestro offers a fab view over gardens and the new skyline of Porta Nuova. Its cuisine is a perfect melange of surf and turf, with a great selection of wines (via Palestro, 2. www.laterrazzadiviapalestro.com). On the 7th floor of la Rinascente you can enjoy a unique view over the spires of the Duomo and choose from among the myriad options that its gastronomic corners offer (la Rinascente 7th Floor, Rinascente Piazza Duomo. www.rinascente.it). Ceresio 7 is a surprising, innovative James Bond-style location. It offers an array of delicious extremes ranging from baccalà to ragù (via Ceresio, 7. www.ceresio7.com). Conversely, at Hotel Milano Scala you’ll find a plush outdoor dining lounge featuring a breathtaking view over the roofs of Milan (via dell’Orso, 7. www.hotelmilanoscala.it).
AMIDST GARDENS AND COURTYARDS
These are the places where Milan best expresses its true soul, reserved and generous, seemingly aggressive and chaotic but, behind this façade, welcoming and courteous. Bona fide Milanese are proud of keeping their true feelings hidden, only opening their hearts and doors to those who are prepared to come and seek them out.
La Brisa is a small Milanese miracle, a garden of unexpected beauty, both creative and international. From fois gras to gnocchi upgraded with an innovative twist (via della Brisa, 15. www.ristorantelabrisa.it). In the Provencal-style outdoor area at Al Fresco you can savour dishes that though seemingly rustic nevertheless exude an adventurous, sophisticated spirit (via Tortona, 50. www.alfrescomilano.it). Ratanà is a small old-world location that serves contemporary Milanese cuisine (via De Castillia, 28. www.ratana.it). Located near an old station, the Osteria Del Binari serves typical Milanese cuisine in a garden shaded by a beautiful pergola (via Tortona, 1. www.osteriadelbinari.com). The courtyard of Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi acts as a backdrop to Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone, a great place for a simple gourmet experience (via Santo Spirito, 10. www.ilsalumaiodimontenapoleone.it). Set within the courtyard of an old Milanese “palazzo”, Hostaria Borromei is a small pearl of a restaurant serving great local fare (via Borromeo, 4. www.hostariaborromei.com). Boasting a courtyard and climbing wisteria, Trattoria Madonnina serves imaginative traditional cuisine (via Gentilino, 6. www.trattoria-lamadonnina.it).