Milan is a city that is well-known for its fashion, art, and culture, but there is so much more to discover beyond the usual tourist hotspots. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, a repeat traveller, or maybe even a local, it’s always exciting to find new and unique places to explore. That’s why we’ve decided to uncover Milan’s hidden gems and take you on a journey beyond the typical tourist trail.
Our local Spotters in Milan have been scouring the city to find the best-kept secrets, and now we’re sharing them with you. So, if you’re ready to experience a different side of Milan, keep reading to discover the hidden gems our local Spotters have uncovered.
Shopping locally in Milan is a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s culture and support its small businesses. FThere are plenty of opportunities to find unique and locally-made goods from traditional markets to independent boutiques
Meet2biz – Fashion & design with an attitude
“Lemme take you on time travel. FeA fewears ago, the Navigli neighbourhood was what Berliners would call a ‘Kiez’ – an evolved borough full of mom-and-pop shops, Milanese art galleries and the like. No pedestrian zone, no aperitivo frenzy every night, and Italians mostly went after the big brand names when ipdating their wardrobe.
Back then, the arrival of meet2biz must have been like a UFO landing and bringing stuff from outer space – fashion and design items from little unknown tailor’s workshops and design studios.”- Michela Maier
Salvatore +. Marie – Italian design at its best
“For many tourists and non-locals, shopping in Milan mostly takes place between Montenapoleone, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Corso Buenos Aires, not to forget Corso Vercelli. Good for well-known luxury brands, but nothing really particular or uniquely Milanese.
Fortunately, there is still the typical Italian culture of small shops with a special offering. One of them is Salvatore + Marie, a little gem of artisanal craft work in the Naviglio neighbourhood, close to Vico dei Lavandai.
Two designers run the place, Salvatore from Sardinia and Marie from Ireland, marrying the best elements of Italian craftsmanship and Nordic reduced pureness and simplicity.”- Michela Maier
Mercatino Penelope – Vintage furniture dreamland
“I have always been in love with interior design and always researched for that future moment when I would move into my “dream house”. When I walk into a house, restaurant or bar, the furniture is one of the first things I look at. I decided to stop waiting for my dream house when I stumbled upon Mercatino Penelope. My love for vintage took ove,r and I fell in love with their coffee tables from the 1950s, old suitcases and vintage sofas.
Imagine a big open space where everything from sofas, tables, mirrors, tea sets and vintage bags all blend into a wonderful, mesmerizing unit. This is a beautiful mess where I can spend hours discovering every little hidden item.”- Carmen Condeescu
Milan is widely known for its rich art and culture, but beyond the famous museums and landmarks, there are also hidden gems that are worth exploring.
Piazza Sempione – Mini-urban amphitheater
“Right along one of the edges of the park, there is a big, round, pedestrian square, Piazza Sempione, which is one of my favoritefavoritein Milan. What I love about Piazza Sempione is its breadth, its clean and liness – I’m not susceptible to the horror vacui! – and its particular shape, reminiscent of an amphiamphitheatre
I make the association with a theatre a little because of its round shape, a little for the presence of two big stone steps on its north side, and also because of the fact of what for me is the perfect stage backdrop of a perfect spectacular: The Peace Arc.”- Francesca Vittorelli
The Tudor-Style Houses – A rather unexpected sight
“As you hop off tram no. 15 you’ll feel a bit displaced. In fact, this pretty block is one of the most unexpected sights in Milan, because among a block of very elegant Liberty-style houses you will spot a couple of super fascinating Tudor-style houses.
You see, these houses would be a common sight in England and Germany or Northern Europe for that matter, but they clearly are one-of-a-kind in central/South Milan.
Rumor has it that these timber-frame houses with sloping roofs were built either by a pair of German pianists who wanted a house that reminded them of their homeland or, as other people say, by an Englishwoman who asked a Milanese architect to put a little Tudor in her humble abode. Either way, the whole area was developed between the 1920s and 30s and the mixture of Liberty, eclectic and Tudor style really makes Via Giambologna a unique block.”- Susanna Baggio.
Church of San Maurizio – Milan’s Sistine Chapel
“Whether you are an estimator of religious art or not, San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is a must-see in Milan.
Let me state the obvious: the Catholic Church has had a massive impact on Italian art and culture – to the point that almost every memorable historical site throughout Italy is churches, chapels or religious buildings, and everywhere you go there’s something memorable to see, but this is something different.
It’s not uncommon to find churches that are divided into two sections, usually one for the noble and the clergy, and one for commoners, but there was a different kind of “division” here. In fact, from the early 16th century to the early 19th century, San Maurizio was the home of cloistered nuns, who could only pray in the back of the monastery.”- Susanna Baggio.
Milan is a food lover’s paradise, with a wide range of dining options to choose from. However, among the city’s famous cafes and upscale restaurants, there are also hidden gems serving authentic, traditional Milanese cuisine.
La Sala Bistrot – Unbelievably good food-wine combo
“In Milan, like in many other growing cities, it has become harder to find places that aren’t overpriced. Here, the quality of dishes is guaranteed by chef Tommaso, a former apprentice of Romito, and the wines list by Carlo, who recently topped the Top 10 Wine Bars List in Italy for the other place they own and manage in Milan, together with Noemi: La Sala del Vino.
La Sala Bistrot is the project of the talented trio and what they have to offer is worth paying a visit if you’re wandering around China Town or Sempione Park; it’s literally a few minutes away.
About their wines offers, more than 350 wineries of mainly Italian organic wines and small producers, but not necessarily; wine needs to be good or as they like to say “wine does not need to stink to be good.”
Food: Tommaso brings in a curated mix of Mediterranean, Italian and contemporary cuisine, with no geographical limits. The dishes often tell stories of his hometown in Liguria, Sanremo a few miles from the French border.”- Matteo Carini
COOKBOOK – Alternative dinner
“watching Cookbook from the sidewalk, it is very difficult at a first glance to understand quickly that this cozy and romantic place is actually a restaurant. Maybe because of the jasmines that cover the entire entrance and the windows or that it’s lit with such small & warm lights they make you believe the place is decorated for a special (very romantic!) occasion.
Or it’s the particular preparation of the windows that show an accurate variety of all kinds of books. Or maybe it’s because of the domestic & homely interior decoration, that evidently aspires to reproduce the interior of a home. Moreover, the name evokes a hybrid, and very innovative concept that includes something different and a little ‘vintage’: books.”- Francesca Vittorelli
Macelleria Masseroni – (Not only) for meat lovers
“Located between bars, coffee shops and restaurants in the vibrant Naviglio neighbourhood Macelleria Masseroni is a little butcher, probably one of the best in Milan. Looking for quality meat, excellent ‘salumi e formaggi’, organic eggs, a little selection of artisanal wines, hand-made pasta and other delicatessen (some of them sourced carefully from Spain and France)? Masseroni is the place to go.
And not only that, during lunchtime or to take home, there is a little menu of original dishes and snacks, always freshly prepared using the best ingredients: black pork ribs cooked sous-vide (at low temperature) with honey or maple syrup, baccala, ossobucco, caponata siciliana, savoury pies and vegetarian lasagna to break up the meat monotony. There is something for every taste.” – Michela Maier
La Gelateria della Musica – Best ice cream in town!
“When living in Italy or even simply being a tourist in Italy, you learn that ice cream is not only delicious but fundamental to your everyday life! Having travelled around Italy, there are a lot of one-of-a-kind amazingly incredible ice cream shops in Rome, Bologna, Florence… When I first moved to Milan I had a harder time at finding that one of a kind ice cream. Most spots were good or average but nothing that makes you crave it in the middle of the night! La Gelatiera della Musica is that one of a kind amazingly incredible ice cream spot!” – Carmen Condeescu