While many casual travelers to Italy skip Milan in favor of quainter towns, those of us in-the-know seek out the chance to visit this luxe, thrilling, timeless city. The Elizée team is split between California, Florence and Milan (requiring a lot of fun travel for us!) and without a doubt, my favorite destination for design trips is the sleek, glamorous, ultra-chic fashion capital of Europe: the one and only Milano.
In addition to being the heart of Italy’s fashion, finance and media worlds, Milan is also the center of the country's shoe design heritage. Italy’s most sought-after luxury artisans are located in Vigevano, just outside of the city - which is why we chose to craft Elizée shoes there.
Below is my insider’s guide to a day in Milan, cultivated over countless design trips. My favorite activity in the city remains people-watching - the Milanese are so bold, creative and striking with fashion, and their glam outfits are an endless source of inspiration.
How to spend one day in Milan
8am: Coffee and pastry at Pasticceria Sissi.
This gem of a cafe has been delighting the palates of chic Milanese for over 25 years. If you can brave the well-dressed crowd at the coffee bar, you’ll be rewarded with the most perfectly foamed cappuccino and flaky, melt-in-your-mouth brioche you’ve ever tasted. The tiny garden in the back is perfect for a quick sit-down to gather the energy needed for long design days in the factory.
Local tip: If you happen to be there on a Thursday, don’t miss the weekly morning street market just outside, starting from Piazza Risorgimento - it’s a gold mine of antique jewelry and gorgeous fresh produce.
9am: Stroll the streets of the Quadrilatero della Moda. No trip to Milan would be complete without a visit to the city’s luxury fashion center in the ultra-chic Brera district. Set between 5 main streets, starting with Via Monte Napoleone, it’s packed with designer boutiques, upscale antique stores and posh cafes in neoclassical mansions.
Local tip: Don’t miss a stop in the gorgeous Pasticceria Cova for a quick late-morning espresso or decadent pastry with impeccable service.
11am: Visit the groundbreaking Corso Como 10 concept store for a dose of major fashion and artistic inspiration. It's an expertly curated selection of edgy and classic luxury fashion, personal care, homewares and art that includes hard-to-find items you won’t come across elsewhere, and its stylish courtyard cafe is a green oasis in the bustling city.
1pm: Lunch at Spazio with sweeping views of the Duomo. The sight of it never fails to take my breath away. Don’t let the Michelin star make you think this relaxed restaurant is too fancy for a quick lunch - its casual elegance and stunning views make it the perfect destination for a mid-day bite.
3pm: Visit the Museo della Calzatura (Museum of Footwear) in Vigevano, the luxury shoe-making capital of the world.
Hop on the short train ride to beautiful Vigevano for a peek into luxurious Italian shoe heritage. The museum is located inside of a castle, and boasts 4500 pairs of original Italian designs, including shoes from Marilyn Monroe’s personal collection.
6:30pm: Aperitivo at Bar Basso, a sophisticated, cult-favorite cocktail bar. The Milanese invented the now-widespread Italian custom of “aperitivo” (serving food with pre-dinner drinks), and this charming neighborhood locale takes the practice to a whole other level. A must-order is the Negroni Sbagliato - famously invented in Bar Basso when the owner accidentally poured prosecco instead of gin into the Negroni cocktail he was making.
8:30pm: Dinner at Da Giacomo. An elegant, timeless Milano restaurant, serving classic Milanese cuisine to perfection, and boasting exquisite service. This old-world favorite is a must-visit for a stylish evening.
11pm: Dancing at Il Gattopardo. This intimate, sexy discoteque is set in a former church. Watch for the acrobats to sweep down from the ultra-high ceilings for a suspended performance on silk strands.
Milan is unique and electrifying in its eternal mix of the hypermodern and the elegantly classical, and its commitment to both tradition and innovation holds a very special place in our hearts at Elizée. It needs much more than a day to truly appreciate all it has to offer in fashion, design, art, culture and fine dining (for instance, a viewing of Da Vinci’s Last Supper and an opera at the iconic La Scala are essential experiences of a lifetime!). I hope you love Milan as much as I do, and I’d love to hear from you if I’ve missed any of your personal favorites.
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