A Love Letter to Milan
I'm from the East Coast of Italy originally, and Milan is my adoptive home. Maybe it's because I'm not from here that I love uncovering all of the city's secrets, and I adore talking about it through my sometimes rose-tinted glasses, but with snapshots and words that come straight from my heart. For the last five years, I've been exploring Milan, and I've worked hard to build up a reputation so that on a Sunday morning, someone might ask me: "Clara, where can I have brunch in Brera?"; or as the dawn chorus pipes up: "Clarita, where did you find those aqua marine slippers?".
Milan is Italy's most contemporary and international city. Unlike the rest of our beautiful country, Milan's beauty isn't immediately apparent, it has to be actively sought. It's like going on an unusual treasure hunt, which is my favourite way to pass the time. I have thought long and hard about where to send you Primark lovers, if you were lucky enough to spend a day or more in my city, for unforgettable but affordably priced experiences. This is Gourmode's day in Milan, dedicated to you.
I like to wake up to the smell of the blueberry pastries served up by Gattullo - Piazzale di Porta Lodovica, 2 - a traditional Milanese cafe just a stone's throw from my university. If you were to ask me where you can find some peace and quiet to read a good book, reflect, do some daydreaming, I always come here, to my favourite little hideaway, tucked away in Corso Monforte... Villa Necchi - via Volfango Mozart, 14. This is my haven of peace and quiet, where time seems to stand still.
And how could I forget the place where I keep my most magical memories? I keep them here, behind the Chinese screen, between the pages of antique books, under the cream tablecloth, on the dessert trolley. I keep them in the fragrance of white truffles, the flavour of beef tournedos à la Rossini, in the clattering of the cutlery, the lights turned down, the mahogany and gold: the Giacomo Bistrot - Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 6.
9am MOLESKINE CAFÈ
A brand new arrival on the Milanese scene, the Moleskine Café is an original concept, part literary café, part art gallery, part shop and bookstore. It’s a crazy new idea for Italy, where coffee is normally drunk in a flash, standing up at the counter. It’s a perfect new trend for Milan, which had been craving a relaxing break to stop and think. This literary café is a real gem where you can recharge your batteries at the very centre of the elegant district of Brera. Visit the Moleskine for a delicious coffee from Milan-based coffee roaster Sevengrams, get your daily fix of inspiration, and update your schedule in your leather notebook.
11am CLORI FIORI
So who are you meeting after your steaming caffeine fix? Whether it's for your significant other, your Mum, your Gran, or just for you, pick a fragrant bunch of Clori flowers in the middle of Piazza Sant'Eustorgio and you'll be rewarded with a friendly atmosphere and a warm smile. Clori feels like a little corner of Provence, with all sorts of fresh flowers you can mix with candles, wicker baskets and other accessories to add a touch of class. My personal favourite would be a simple bunch of dusky pink roses and peonies, just sayin'.
Midday MUSEO DEL NOVECENTO
It's always nice to fill your time with beautiful things before lunch, or rather, before filling your belly with tasty things. Milan boasts a never-ending selection of cultural highlights, and one of my favourites has to be the Museo del Novecento, housed in the Palazzo dell'Arengario. From Piazza Duomo, follow the neon lights of the Fontana installation, and discover masterpieces by the likes of Picasso, Mondrian, De Chirico, Boccioni, Balla, Matisse and many more...
Lush green plants, "quadroTTi" and an Italian take on Nordic cool. oTTo is famous for three things:
1. Its pure white atmosphere, brightened up with mismatched chairs and terracotta plant pots filled with sprawling plants.
2. The amazing and healthy "quadroTTi", a Milanese take on the Danish smorgasbord.
3. The contemporary fusion of cultures, in the heart of Milan's Chinatown.
You only need to walk across the famous green bridge, suspended over the railway, and see posters, stickers and graffiti, and soak up the underground atmosphere, to know you're in the right place. The good old Osteria del Binari and the delicious smell of sautéed rice, the Superstudio, the Langosteria, the MUDEC a bit further on, the Al Fresco and the thousand and one showrooms. Tortona is a neighbourhood I've always loved, the place to be during the Fuori Salone, if you're visiting in April.
5pm GELATERIA DELLA MUSICA
The best ice cream in Milan? I'd say that this little ice cream parlour in the Navigli neighbourhood hits all the right notes. My favourite? The "pistacchio di bronte" (lightly salted toasted pistachio) and chocolate, with Himalayan pink salt. There are 3 branches in Milan, but I always go to the original one.
7pm MAG cafè
I absolutely love this place for its spheres of lights, the atmosphere (a cross between the Marais and Alice in Wonderland), the maiolica walls, the customers, and the menus, hidden in novels. You can go there any time, but I'd recommend trying an aperitif to wash down some charcuterie and Sardinian flatbread. The MAG is, quite simply, the most "Gourmode" bar in Milan.
9pm DROGHERIA MILANESE
If you fancy somewhere chic for a relaxing chat and a spot of delicious tapas, then Drogheria is the place to go.
The best thing about this bistro is how you can graze on so many different specialities. Take a friend along to share the experience of tasting a few things that you might never have tried before. My top tips for getting the most out of it? Choose a mix of half-portions (my favourite? Mini pata negra cutlets), ask for Richard (and say that Clara or Queen C sent you) and do not leave without seeing the secret room.
Midnight ROOM MATE GIULIA
Fancy a snooze? I'm not surprised! It's time to put your feet up. The fantastic concept of Room Mate has all the style of Spanish designer, Patricia Urquiola. The interior design is young and trendy, perfect for visitors looking for a relaxed pied-à-terre in Milan to share on Instagram... trust me, Giulia won't let you down.
And I hope I haven't let you down either, with my special "Love letter to My City"! Enjoy my Milan, and let me know when you're in town!