- Art & Culture
Milan first night at La Scala… and more
Blame it all on Maria Teresa. In 1776, the tenacious Viennese ruler decided to build an opera house in the crumbling Church of Santa Maria della Scala, not far from Piazza del Duomo. La Scala has been spellbinding us ever since. Anything special in Milan has to be done before or after the first night.
1. Michelin stars and up-and-coming confectioners
According to the 2018 Michelin guide, Milan has 20 starred restaurants. New kid on the block is the Andrea Aprea's Vun at the Park Hyatt with two stars. It is also placed 26th in the 2018 Best Chefs Awards announced in Milan on 1 October this year. You might have missed one detail: its club sandwich is the best in the world, at least according to Tyler Brûlé editor of Monocle Magazine. The 2018 Gambero Rosso "Pasticceri & Pasticcerie" guide has a surprise in store. This year's up-and-coming pastry chef is Marcello Rapisardi, who runs Pasticceria & Dessert in Via Bacone. His strengths: whipped cream, from meringues to cream puffs. His must-have desert: frollino Milano.
2. In the city, on the trail of a “man of 25 careers”
A voyage into the Milan of the 1920s and 1930s? Simply follow the trail of Piero Portaluppi, one of modern Milan's great architects. From Villa Necchi Campiglio, chosen by Luca Guadagnino to film “I Am Love” with Tilda Swinton, to the Hoepli Planetarium. We suggest you go on one of the guided tours organised by the Portaluppi foundation. Our recommended itinerary? A tour of bourgeous homes in the Porta Venezia area. The tour leaves from the Boschi-Di Stefano House Museum and finishes at Palazzo Carpaccio-Buonarroti-Giotto, the house with the arch in Corso Venezia.
3. Gallerie d’Italia vaults
Like any self-respecting bank, the former Banca Commerciale Italiana had a vault where valuable items and materials were kept. Nowadays the security boxes have gone and the vault houses about 500 paintings from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection, hung on sliding mesh panels. The more curious can go on guided tours organised every third Thursday of the month. This is a good opportunity to see the works and also find out more about archiving and conservation methods and secrets
4. At the Museo alla Scala, remembering Callas
On 1 May 1911, the art dealer Giulio Sambon decided to auction off his collection of theatrical curios. The sum of 450,000 lira, scraped together from collections and donations was, however, mysteriously rejected and it was discovered that the American billionaire J.P. Morgan had come forward as a buyer. Shortly after, he backed out of the sale. The explanation came two years later, when the Museo Teatrale alla Scala opened its doors in the rooms of Casino Ricordi. Exhibits included relics, books and stage costumes from Nabucco, Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammermoor. Its finest pieces? The dresses worn by Callas in the 1950s. They are to die for.
5. Among the towers of the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca
With an area of 15,000 m² Pirelli Hangar Bicocca is one of the biggest horizontal exhibition spaces in Europe and every year it puts on major solo exhibitions by Italian and international artists. A famous permanent work by Anselm Kiefer entitled “I Sette Palazzi Celesti 2004-2015” is definitely one not to miss while wandering its aisles. The area is a spectacular sight with seven titanic lead and reinforced concrete towers measuring between 14 and 18 metres in height, each weighing 90 tons, offering food for thought.
6. In a Gallery above the Octagon
An Observatory on the upper floors of the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery? Commissioned by the Prada Foundation, this shrine to photography now recounts more tales of people and places than ever before. It is located above the Octagon, the glass and iron dome built between 1865 and 1867 to cover the Gallery. The original Observatory preserves its original supporting structures in reinforced concrete and parquet. Height junkies will also appreciate the Highline Gallery, an accessible rooftop walkway resembling modern castle battlements with a view over Piazza della Scala.
7. Quadrilateral of Fashion
Shopping is one of Milan’s great attractions. The stylish big name labels look good enough to eat in shop windows. The true shrine to fashion is the Quadrilateral, a network of streets in the very centre of the city bordered by Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia and Via della Spiga, with boutiques that are works of design in their own right. In Via Sant’Andrea, don’t miss the ultra-elegant Palazzo Morando, museum of costume, fashion and image.