Milan: Sightseers, foodies and fashion lovers will feel right at home

Milan may be known as Italy’s capital of fashion, but it is also a city for fun and fantastic food.

nd of course sightseeing. For that, the main place is on the city’s busiest square, Piazza del Duomo — home to the stunning Duomo cathedral. The fourth-largest cathedral in the world, it took six centuries to build, and when you visit you will see why. With a fascinating gothic facade, the church will be one of the most impressive you will ever set your eyes on.

You can walk around the cathedral’s roof for panoramic views of the city and admire close up the building’s 135 spires. If the weather is exceptionally clear, you will even get glimpses of the snow-dusted Alps in the distance.

You could spend hours exploring the interior alone. My advice would be to buy a €20 ticket that gives you access to the cathedral, its archaeological area below, its museum and a lift pass.

Next to the cathedral you will find another beautiful building with its iron and glass roof and polished floors, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Built in 1865 and named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy, it is Italy’s oldest shopping centre. It is said that if you stop to spin three times with your heel on the testicles of the dancing bull on the mosaic floor it will bring you good luck.

Around the city there are some of the best museums in Europe, including Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie, home of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, the Pinacoteca di Brera, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the National Museum of Science and Technology, within which you can find much of Da Vinci’s work and experiments.​


The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall

We managed to walk more than 15,000 steps a day, thanks in part to Parco Sempione, which is a huge green expanse with numerous recreational areas. Napoleon’s triumphal Arch of Peace stands along its perimeter. You can also use the city’s bike-sharing scheme, BikeMi, which has hundreds of stations in the city.

If shopping is your thing, you will be spoilt for choice in Milan, especially for upscale boutiques and designer brands. Via Torino is now one of the main areas of Milanese shopping to suit all budgets. Fashionistas will be out in force when Milan Fashion Week returns on September 20.

For fun, there is no better base than the ME Milan Il Duca hotel. The hotel says that Milan needed a hotel that was as cutting-edge as the city, so they hired renowned Italian architect Aldo Rossi to build one.

You know you are going to experience something cool, contemporary and cosmopolitan as soon as you walk in through the garden patio entrance and past the beaming LED guitar.

Situated in the Piazza della Repubblica, which has its own metro station and is a short walk to the main train station (Stazione Centrale), it is the perfect location from which to explore Milan. The Duomo is less than a 15-minute walk away .

The hotel evokes the design and fashion culture that the city is known and loved for. A focal point, and one of the best bars in Milan, has to be its 10th-floor Radio Rooftop Bar, which has a lively but laid-back vibe . In the evening tourists and locals alike gather here to sip cocktails and listen to DJ sets as they look out across the city. In the mornings a brilliant breakfast buffet is served here. The eggs Benedict were fantastic, as were the freshly pressed juices.

The hotel is also home to the city’s STK steakhouse, which has a strong American influence, with steaks, burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese featuring prominently on the menu.

ME Milan Il Duca’s rooms are bursting with Milanese tradition mixed with modernity. Exuding luxury, expect Oluce lamps, furniture made from eucalyptus wood, and Egyptian cotton linen on the bed. Many have both a rain shower and free-standing bath in the marble bathroom .

I loved that everything in the room and beyond had custom control touchscreens, even the hotel lifts.

The five-star hotel is also very pet-friendly. It has an in-room pet menu, and expect to meet its adorable mascot, a three-year-old toy poodle called Meme.

While Meme is deservedly treated like the VIPs who have frequented the hotel (including Coldplay and U2), so too is every guest who stays there.

If you need help with anything, advice on what to see and do or want to get a booking at one of the city’s top restaurants the staff are super-attentive.

The ultimate highlight of my trip was dinner at the city’s two Michelin starred restaurant, Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia (the place of Aimo and Nadia).

The Michelin Guide said it had “excellent cooking, worth a detour”, and it most certainly was (around a 20-minute taxi ride from the city centre).

The restaurant is now in the hands of Stefania Moroni, whose parents, Aimo and Nadia Moroni, owned it, and head chefs Alessandro Negrini and Fabio Pisani. Alessandro and Fabio’s menus are true works of art, highlighting the richness of Italian cuisine.

We enjoyed their well-executed 10-course Territories menu, which took us around the various regions of Italy and the country’s finest ingredients. They included anchovy from Camogli, wild salad leaves and edible flowers from Lake Como, beans from Sorana and fish from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

While the restaurant, which is tucked away in a quiet suburb, has been given a slick makeover (check out its amazing modern art) and has expanded since it first opened, Il Luogo still very much retains the character of 60 years ago.

Service was truly exceptional, with the utmost attention to detail. Staff knew the menus inside out and the sommelier’s wine choices were worthy of two Michelin stars themselves.

The wine list was one of the biggest I have perused, with more than 700 bottles of all vintages to choose from.

But the food was obviously the star of the show, and over 10 courses we enjoyed a terrific taste sensation, from the wonderfully crispy chickpeas of Murge served with smoked trout from San Giuseppe to the dentex fish with fava bean puree, Bleggio walnuts, redcurrants from the restaurant’s own garden and eggplant juice.

While everything was flawless, we all have our favourites, and ours were red mullet in a cicerchie (wild chickpea) crust with asparagus and smoked scamorza cheese sauce. The perfectly crisp chickpea coating was a delight with the sauce.

And the kitchen clearly cooks fish exceptionally well, as was evident with the turbot, which was every bit as pretty as the decor. The fillet and side cut sat on a base of peas with pesto and courgette circles on top. Think garden flavours and smells , and that was it on the plate.

Being Italy, pasta also played a part on the menu, with a Spaghettoni (a bigger, chunkier variation of the classic Spaghetti) served simply with a vegetable sauce and tuna roe. Again, the quality of the produce was superb. The dish appeared deceptively simple, but the chefs manage to extract the maximum flavour from their ingredients, and this was clear in every plate of food.

We were so taken by their pasta that we swapped one of the courses for a delicious dish from their Spring Journey menu which caught my eye, aptly called Dedicated to Milan. The tortelli was filled with a very moreish slow-cooked beef shank and its marrow , served with a reduction of its stock, saffron and parmigiano. This is a nod to the classic Risotto alla Milanese. This risotto is a signature dish of Milan, made with beef stock, beef bone marrow, lard and cheese, and flavoured and coloured with saffron. Try the Il Luogo stuffed pasta version. You will not be disappointed — it will be the best tortelli you have ever had.

Quail was from a Miroglio producer and served three ways. First was a consomme with a fillet and a sandwich of its liver, second was the breast stuffed with Manthis shrimps from the Adriatic Sea and the leg with fruit mostardo (mustard fruit). This was one of the most substantial and technical plates of food, and the results were outstanding.


Quail at Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia

Caramelized brioche bread and ‘fior di latte’ mozzarella for dessert (we also got some excellent petit fours) was the perfect end to a perfect meal. Little wonder Il Luogo has thrived over the past 60 years, and I have no doubt they will for 60 more.

After all that food all that was left for me to do was crawl into a taxi and return to the hotel for a lie-down.

Where to stay: ME Milan Il Duca, Room rates start from £280 per night.
How to get there: Ryanair fly from Dublin into Milan’s Lilante airport, visit
Where to eat:

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