Why is Milan such a wonderful city to live in?
Ask our Spotters and they would tell you it’s the cities hidden beauty, that doesn’t just show itself to anyone; the juxtaposition found everywhere in this city, you can go clubbing but also has you’re your inner peace in serene secret gardens; how the city is unapologetically itself, and although you might not like it at first you will most likely grow to love it.
Here are our picks for some of the most unique, local gems in Milan, in the words of our very own team of Spotters.
Follow the music
Villa Clerici and its park used to belong to the famous 18th-century silk merchant Giorgio Clerici. The villa has an Italian style garden at the front with neoclassical sculptures and a big park at the back and is located in the middle of a grey and pretty boring suburb. This contrast is interesting to see, and might even add to the beauty of the villa and the park.
Next to it being a lovely park to stroll through, there are also a contemporary sacred art and temporary art exhibitions to look at. Officially the villa is not open on Sundays, but because of the great acoustics, it’s often used for rehearsals by classical music companies.
During the summer it even hosts music concerts and operas in its gardens!
Anyone can easily get in, linger around and enjoy the sound of the orchestra, all for free — Elena Berneschi
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 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!
Make sure to register and have a quick finger booking your seat, it sells out in no time — Michela Susanna Maier
Tiny, lovely library
The Biblioteca Porta Venezia near P.ta Venezia is a little public library in the building that used to house a cinema. The building has just been renewed and includes a calm corner to sit and read newspapers and magazines, a travel guide area and another area with CDs and movies. There are also some tables on the first floor, for when you want to relax or study.
The place is a popular study-spot amongst university students, so it can be a bit difficult to find a spot sometimes. But the atmosphere is very calm and serene. Even if you don’t feel the need to actually sit down, it’s a lovely spot to see and the surrounding area is also worth a visit.
It’s a charming environment and I personally think that it’s worth a visit, not only for the library in itself but also because it’s in a crossroad of tiny streets with some of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in Milan — Elena Berneschi
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.
DO.G.S.(dothegrooveonsunday) was born to push the limits and bring changes to Milan’s day and nightlife! In the last few years — Matteo Carini
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 me cringe more than once. Not only is it the smallest path where cars are allowed in town but it has a sinister reputation — Matteo Banchi
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.
Now I understand that skulls, bones, and death are not everyone’s cup of tea but it sure is quite a sight!
This particular church always makes me feel a mix between scared and amazed —Matteo Banchi
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 I enter the courtyard and garden, I leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind me — Ivan Kalinov
A cute, green café
Riad Food Garden is a little café that is not only incredibly aesthetically pleasing (everything in black and white, and so many plants), it also features a great concept. This place is not only great to get good food or a good drink, but it is also a good place for design-freaks amongst us! You can buy almost every item found inside, think of decoration, lamps etc.
The menu changes daily, so it’s hard to get bored with this place. They also offer great vegetarian and vegan dishes, next to their great fresh fruit drinks.
When the weather is nice there are some tables outside and the French windows are completely open, so as to let the sun and air in — Elena Berneschi
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 — Michela Susanna Maier
A secret garden
In a new area near Garibaldi metro station, there is a lush garden filled with flowers, vegetables, plants, and trees hidden behind a high wall. This garden is called Isola Pepe Verde. The garden is shared by different locals, before which it was abandoned. The idea is to create a space where people can enjoy nature, relax and have a chat with others.
Although the garden can be difficult to find, it is worth a visit. Sometimes it’s covered by a metal sheet gate, but it’s usually open from 16:00 till dusk. Don’t be scared to go in and have a talk with the people there.
Even if it looks like a private courtyard, you are free to go in, look around, introduce yourself to whoever is there and, at least this is what I do, sit and read a good book — Elena Berneschi
Appreciating history through drinks
As soon as you step into this bar, you are brought back in time to old Milan and to the birthplace of the infamous Campari. Camporino in Galleria will educate in 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.
My top tip: try the Campari Spritz instead of the Aperol Spritz, it’s a bit less sweet and a lot cooler — Ivan Kalinov
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!
The bigger a city is, the more little stories it’s hiding among its roads and buildings — Matteo Banchi
For more hidden gems, check out the Spotted by Locals Milan city blog.