Milan isn’t the easiest city to get to know. Behind the many walls, there is a lot to discover! Our team of Spotters in Milan wants to help you experience its great local eateries and the unique neighborhoods riddled with lovely spots.
In this post we have collected some of the best and most unique local spots they have found. Whether you are a visitor or a fellow local looking for new places in the city, enjoy this selection of great hidden gems!
Taste of Italy
Why not start the tour with some lovely Italian wine? In recent years, Milan has added a number of hidden (tiny), very particular enoteche to its eno-gastronomic portfolio. Case in point: Vino. Based in a quiet, residential side street in the heart of the Porta Romana district, Enoteca con Mescita isn’t usually discovered by chance — which is a real pity since Martina Beccaria has infused all her bustling energy, passion, knowledge, spirit, and ingenuity to create a very special place and share a fine, curated selection of bottles & delicious stuzzichini (finger food).
The space itself is like its proprietor: relaxed, down-to-earth, welcoming, just the bare necessities required to experience, appreciate, and learn about wine and the culture around it. Martina offers a unique selection of not only Italian but also French labels, adding a fresh breeze of air to Milan’s winery scene.
Every product is hand-selected by Martina and directly sourced from small quality producers, mostly in organic or biodynamic quality.
(Vintage) Shopping Time!
The Milano East Market is a marketplace but mostly a nice hangout place where you can shop, eat, drink and make new friends!
The prices are fairly low and you can find just about anything from a Prada dress to an H&M sweater. Every edition usually hosts circa 300 different stands where you can purchase bags, clothes, collector items, sunglasses, and unique furniture. Some vendors are professional while other ones are private individuals. If you get hungry while you shop, no need to worry as the East Market also has a dedicated area for food trucks where you can eat amazing burgers, vegetarian dishes and of course drink wine or beer for cheap! To keep the atmosphere going, they also often have a DJ playing live music!
It’s a perfect place to come for aperitivo to have a drink with friends and shop around.
DO.G.S. (dothegrooveonsunday) is an organization that was created to boost Milan’s nightlife and bring some innovation to the scene. In the last years, they have made a name for themselves amongst underground electronic music party-goers.
They are a quite nomadic organization, as they change locations a lot. They host their events anywhere, from theatres and clubs to industrial spaces. Next to having diverse locations, the crowd they attract is also pretty diverse. The goal of the organization is to create a sense of freedom through dancing and let their visitors experience absolute intimacy on the dancefloor. Their goals and vibes this brings along create an open atmosphere with room for making connections.
Don’t be fooled by their name, their parties used to happen on Sundays, but nowadays they’re usually on a Saturday.
A sketchy street for the curious amongst us
In the center of Milan, you can find Via Bagnera, a street once called ‘Strict Bagnera’. The street is known for having a creepy atmosphere due to its dark history.
This dark history refers to the fact that Antonio Boggia, the ‘monster of Milan, was active in the latter half of the 19th century. He buried the bodies of four victims in a cellar after leading them to the basement of his house and then killing them with an ax. Not a very happy story, which explains the sinister vibe of the street. Luckily one of his victims managed to escape and report him, so a happy ending (sort of).
So although this is not the most fun story, it is interesting to walk through a piece of Milan’s history, even if it is a bit dark.
The atmosphere that characterizes it made our Spotter Matteo Banchi cringe more than once. Not only is it the smallest path where cars are allowed in town but it has a sinister reputation… A truly local spot to check out!
Although this might not be the most Italian place ever, it is a super interesting and hidden spot! Ma’s Hidden Kitchen Supper Club is more experimental and fits into the trend of having dinner clubs that started in big cities such as NYC and London. Its founders Melissa and Lele host these social dinners in their stunning design loft (with a foosball table!). Not only do they host dinners, but they also host theatre events and concerts!
Besides having a great location, the atmosphere is also very unique and authentic. Melissa and Lele are great hosts and can make anyone feel welcome. There are several resident and guest chefs who prepare four-course meals in an open kitchen.
All in all your senses will be pleased by a visit to the supper club, plenty of designer knickknacks to look at, and amazing food to eat!
Our Spotter Michela recommends you to register and have a quick finger booking your seat, as it usually sells out in no time.
Church of bones
The church of San Bernardino was built in 1269. It is located next to a room that was meant to house the bones from the dall’antistante cemetery, which later became an ossuary.
The impressive part of the ossuary is the inside. The walls are almost completely covered with skulls and all types of bones. Everywhere you look you will see them, on niches, ledges, pillars, and doors. Funny enough you can find an exact replica of the chapel in Lisbon because King John V of Portugal was so impressed with it he decided to make an exact copy of the room in his own country.
Our Spotter Matteo Banchi understands that skulls, bones, and death are not everyone’s cup of tea but it sure is quite a sight! This particular church always makes him feel a mix between scared and amazed.
City escape in the city
This spot is for the people who can get overwhelmed by the constant rush of energy that city life brings along. Let’s be real, we all need a break sometimes, and this place is perfect for just that!
Cascina Cuccagna was originally a 17th-century farmhouse that is now turned into a public space with a restaurant, self-service bar, vegetable garden, hostel, bike and wood workshop, wine shop, farmers market, and space for various events! The place offers so many different things and has a great, relaxed atmosphere which is perfect for just letting go of the business of life for a while.
The moment our Spotter Ivan enters the courtyard and garden, he feels he can leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind him.
A cute, cozy coffee shop
Colibrì is close to the main branch of the Università Statale di Milano. There’s another coffee place not far from here, but it doesn’t have half the personality Colibrì has. This is a small and colorful bookshop/bar/bistro that is comforting enough when your brain hurts from reading too much Hegel and serves as the coziest post-lecture aperitivo place. Morning to evening, there’s always a good excuse to pop in and browse between the books or have a slice of that wonderful cheesecake they serve.
Colibrì is a literary coffee shop that is “like a dream come true” for our Spotter Susanna!
Trend shopping at its finest
Italy is well-known for being a frontrunner in the European design scene, this store fits that image perfectly. I love places like Rinascente Design Supermarket since it makes high-end design a bit more approachable and is so good for inspiration! The idea behind the store is in tune with this idea, as they want to bring good design at an affordable price.
You can basically find anything home decor in this store, from kitchenware and furniture to lamps and tech gadgets. Everything featured in the store is part of what is on trend in the world of design, which makes it perfect for browsing and gaining inspiration for your own home.
The polished and puristic interior design and the shop-in-shop concept do their very best to let the items on offer shine.
Magic in Milan
Milan has a little mountain right in its urban territory; the name of this suggestive site is ‘Monte Stella’, aka ‘Montagnetta’ for Milanese people (literally ‘little mountain’) and rises 50 meters above its surroundings.
La Montagnetta is an artificial relief formed after the Second World War by the accumulation of war debris and demolition remains of the city. Around this beautiful park, it’s still possible today to see the bear witness of this history by tripping over a tile.
“I am truly in love with this park, and I really think Milan has no equally beautiful and magical place like it,” writes our Spotter Francesca.
Appreciating history through drinks
As soon as you step into Camporino in Galleria, you are brought back in time to old Milan and to the birthplace of the infamous Campari. This bar will introduce you to the world of true Italian aperitifs, far beyond Aperol Spritz.
Despite the location, it is still very popular amongst locals, which is always a good way to see if a place is actually worth it. Order at the bar, it’s cheaper than when you’re sitting down at one of their Galleria tables.
Our Spotter Ivan’s top tip: try the Campari Spritz instead of the Aperol Spritz, it’s a bit less sweet and a lot cooler.
A secret listener
Every city has its secrets, and Milan is no exception to this rule. On the outside of a building that was designed in liberty style around the 20s by artist Andreani, you can find a curious ear on the wall. This building La Casa con l’Orrechio is actually named after this strange ear.
But it is not entirely strange and random, as this ear actually has a purpose. The house has an original interphone, which is shaped like an ear, placed next to the front door. Adolfo Wildy, an art-nouveau artist was trying to experiment with the new technology of interphone in new and innovative ways, and that was how this idea of an ear interphone was born.
Although the interphone doesn’t work anymore, there is a sort of urban legend that states that if you gently whisper your wishes into the ear they will come true! Worth a try!
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