When I mention to people how much I love Milan, they usually frown and say, “But it’s so cold and industrial.” Even a travel writer recently wrote, “I only go to Milan for business,” implying that there would be no other valid reason for going there. All I can say is, they don’t know my Milan.
The neighborhood where I stay, on Via Cesare Correnti, is far from cold and industrial…on the contrary, it is a charming village all in one block. My home away from home is the Hotel Regina in the middle of the block. The travel magazines are all promoting the new chic Maison Moschino, and I’ll admit it looks like a designer’s dream. However, I will sacrifice luxury and cutting-edge style for my tiny, cozy room any day.
Unassuming in style, the hotel is warm and welcoming from the moment you step through the door. The rooms, albeit small, have dark wood floors with oriental rugs, and real linen bedding. (Love that.) I open the windows to the sounds of the neighborhood and look across the courtyard to the windows of the other guests, and down through the glass ceiling of the lobby.
First thing in the morning there’s a hug, a smile, and an obligatory (because it’s the only way to communicate) Italian lesson from Maria, who makes the best cappuccino in the world. She always sends me on my way with a hearty, “buona giornata!”
One of my favorite clothing stores in all of Milan is Suede, just down the street. All I have to do is look through the window to see what the salesgirls are wearing to know what I “need.” (The bonus is that the prices are reasonable.)
Schiavo & Bolzani is the hardware store…but it’s not just any old hardware store. It’s the place where I gaze at the spools of colored cord and balls of twine, wooden knobs and brushes, the window screen rolled up in colored paper…and am convinced that I must need something, but usually end up getting overwhelmed and walking out empty-handed. Once I bought a little wood-handled brush and I still don’t know what to do with it.
There’s a stationery store where I get boxes and bubble wrap for shipping things back, and cool Italian office supplies. Next door is the tobaccoria where tickets for the tram are sold, and the tram stops conveniently just outside. Also on the block are a gelatoria, newstand, florist, supermarket, pharmacia, health food store, and a handful of very cool high end jewelry, clothing, and home accessory stores.
Trattoria Zucchi (first photo) is just across the square at the end of the street. It is the perfect place for an afternoon treat…they have mini pastries, so you can sample a lot of them without feeling too gluttonous. The window is always full of gorgeous pies, and they sell little boxes of candy with graphics that are so fantastic that I can’t bring myself to actually open the candy.
The Navigli Canal, lined with antique stores and home to the monthly antique market on the last Sunday of the month, is within walking distance. It’s always lively there, and every time I go there I make new friends.
The rest of the city is just a tram ride away. The Duomo takes my breath away every time I see it, and I love window shopping in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The design supermarket in the lower level of La Rinascente is not to be missed, nor the beautiful interiors store, Wunderkammer Studio. Walk down Via Montenapoleone for high fashion, and Via Brera for the funky local designers.
Explore the side streets that are home to a multitude of unique and inspiring museums and shops…I find new ones every time I go. And, at the end of the day, go home to Hotel Regina in the Via Cesare Correnti…and now you’ve seen my Milano. Trust me, you’ll want to go back.