My jet-lag works in opposition when I travel to Europe. I attribute it to zeal and excitement. Upon the first blink, I am raring to go with camera in hand, ready to explore while the rest of the locale remains asleep. It helps that I am a morning person; even at home in New York, the early hours are by far my favorite time of day. I catch neighborhood residents leaving their apartments and walking their dogs, early risers set in motion, and cafes not yet crowded and buzzing. The streets are quieter and noises are more isolated. I can reflect on the architecture, the greenery, and the landscape sans people toing and froing. The city is ripe for discovery, and it feels all mine.
In Milan, similar to other neighborhood-centric cities, the mornings are blissfully tranquil. Construction workers are just arriving on-site at new stores in development in the Quad D’oro. A few businessmen are having their espresso or cappuccini standing at the bar, Corriere della Sera or Il Sole 24 Ore tucked under their arm, the sounds of espresso cups meeting saucers. Chicissimi Milanese make impeccably stylish exits from their palazzi towards their scooters with helmet in hand, a quick hand brush through their hair.
This post is mostly about the Quad D’oro; there are endless cafes and quiet corners in other neighborhoods where mornings are just as serene and enjoyable. Elegant Brera is overflowing with stylish, individualistic cafes and shops. You might also enjoy last year’s Milanese mornings post, as well as an article about one of my favorite lunch restaurants in the city: Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone.
Where to drink caffè Milanese style:
Cova: Milan’s chicest crowd the bar at this Quad D’Oro classic. Their pastries and chocolates are world class and their window displays are always beautiful. Via Monte Napoleone 8
Marchesi: Charming, old-school institution closer to the Duomo
Where to have a beautiful Milanese lunch in a stunning interior palazzo surrounded by the who’s who:
Where to rest your head after a day of shopping:
Four Seasons Milan: You might walk right by the entrance to the understated Four Seasons on Via Gesù. Exquisite flower arrangements, a beautiful spa, and a perfectly symmetrical, tranquil interior courtyard are a few of the magnificent offerings at this elegant Four Seasons in the heart of the Quad D’oro. The urban spa designed by renowned architect Patricia Urquiola boasts 1,700 sq ft fitness facilities, a hair salon, and a sleek indoor pool with arched ceilings, invoking a feeling of a luxurious cavern. Embody Milanese living in the Fashion Suite with large French doors opening onto a private 25 square meter terrace. For the speed-seeker, grab the keys of a cherry-red Ferrari and speed through the Lombaria countryside en route to the Ferrari manufacturing plant, where you will receive an exclusive guided tour.
Bulgari Hotel: Hidden on a private street just a few minutes walk from the Quad D’oro in a renovated 18th century building with incredible light, black marble from Zimbabwe, and a 4,000 square meter private garden, the Bulgari Hotel feels like a secret, serene oasis just around the corner from the buzz of the city’s most beautiful shopping streets. With only 58 rooms decorated with teak and oak finishings, the hotel exudes warmth and a quiet intimacy. The chef hails from Naples, and he comes with years of experience in pastry, hence the artistic glass-encased fruit tarts and photograph-worthy sweets that decorate the lounge. Give your muscles a rest at the hotel’s urban spa, and take a dip in the indoor pool after a day on the town.
(Mandarin Oriental opening 2015)
Where to rest your head for easy access to the train for phenomenal day trips to the lakes:
Principe di Savoia