Hidden gems in Milan
The cosmopolitan city of Milan may be known for its fashion scene, but behind the façade of opulent designer boutiques and sparkling runway shows, another side of the city is waiting to be discovered. The winding streets offer captivating hidden sights and spaces, from covert gardens to clandestine speakeasies. Experience the best of secret Milan with this two-day itinerary.
Start the day with a 20-minute taxi ride to Via Terraggio Garden.
Via Terraggio Garden
One of Milan’s secret green spaces, Via Terraggio Garden is known only to a handful of in-the-know visitors. Enclosed within a boundary of townhouses, its entrance is identifiable by an unmarked grey arched door at number 5 Via Terraggio. The humble park, which was closed to the public until recently, is a picturesque place for a morning walk.
Then, walk for two minutes to Drogheria Grossi in Corso Magenta.
Drogheria Grossi has been providing Milan’s affluent residents with groceries and gourmet foods for nearly 100 years. Wooden shelves (some accessible only by ladder) cover every inch of wall space, groaning under the weight of local produce, such as pasta, coffee, condiments, Italian sweets and candied fruits.
Next, walk for five minutes towards Santa Maria delle Grazie to reach Leonardo’s Vineyard.
Across the road from Santa Maria delle Grazie – the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous ‘Last Supper’ fresco – is a garden that once belonged to the artist. Between painting sessions, da Vinci developed a passion for wine and began to grow grapes in his own personal vineyard. The space is now a museum, and visitors can explore the beautiful building and garden where oenologists continue to grow the grapes da Vinci cultivated.
The next stop is located just five minutes’ walk away.
Basilica di San Vittore al Corpo
San Vittore al Corpo may not compare to the Duomo di Milano when it comes to size or magnitude, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. The historic basilica is the resting place of Saint Vittore and the former monastery of the Olivetan monks. The interior is covered in stunning hand-painted frescos and intricate carvings. Look up to admire the vaulted dome ceiling, decorated with murals of saints, and climb the bell tower for panoramic views over Milan.
Choose between a 15-minute drive and a 20-minute walk to reach the penultimate destination of the day.
Vintage Delirium by Franco Jacassi
A highlight for fashion lovers, Vintage Delirium is a hole-in-the-wall boutique specialising in stylish vintage clothing and accessories. It’s filled with iconic pieces by world-leading designers and brands such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Balenciaga and Versace. Every piece has been hand-selected by the owner and lifelong collector, Franco Jacassi.
To get back to the hotel, hail a taxi for a 10-minute drive.
Begin day two with a 10-minute walk or a five-minute drive to Albergo Diurno Venezia.
Albergo Diurno Venezia
Underneath Piazza Oberdan lies a fascinating space called Albergo Diurno Venezia. The 1920s Art Deco venue was once used as a fashionable day spa, full of baths, barbershops and beauty salons where affluent residents would enjoy pampering and socialising. While it is no longer used in this way, the FAI organises interesting tours of the abandoned underground complex.
Then, it’s a 20-minute drive or a 30-minute walk to the next stop, Santa Maria presso San Satiro.
Santa Maria presso San Satiro
Located close to the Duomo di Milano, Santa Maria presso San Satiro is an architectural gem squeezed into a busy street in the heart of the city. From the outside, the Renaissance-style church looks rather modest, but inside it appears much larger thanks to a clever artistic optical illusion behind the altar – an ingenious idea by Italian architect Donato Bramante.
To reach Luini, it’s a short seven-minute walk from the church.
Luini may be tiny, but the gourmet eatery is a local institution. Specialising in panzerotti – small pastry turnovers oozing with delicious savoury fillings – the family-run Luini has been wowing the Milanese with their sweet, salty, doughy delights since 1949. Grab a few warm panzerotti for lunch before heading to Via Lincoln.
To visit Via Lincoln, take a 12-minute drive from Luini.
Via Lincoln (known as the ‘rainbow street’ due to its multi-coloured houses), is one of the most intriguing roads in Milan. A must-see attraction for architecture enthusiasts, the unusual cluster of painted houses stands out among the city’s more subdued tones. While the street is residential, it’s worth passing by for a closer look and a photo.
The final stop of the day is 1930. Get the secret address from Mag Café, just a one-minute walk from Via Lincoln.
Milan’s trendiest speakeasy, 1930, is also the most difficult to find. Gaining access isn’t as simple as giving a password or walking through a ‘cupboard’, to get the address you need to go to Mag Café and speak to the owners. You’re then given a phone number to contact and, if you pass the test, a mysterious person will give you directions. Once inside, a cosy yet sophisticated ambience and innovative cocktail menu make it worth the effort.
Finish the day by hailing a taxi for the 20-minute drive back to the hotel.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.