Insider's guide to Milan

Robyn Lea
06 September 2013

Photographer Robyn Lea moved to Milan at 18 to immerse herself in the world of creatives like Franca Sozzani and Gianfranco Ferré. She shares her favourite discoveries in Italy's fashion capital


Taveggia Milano
Via U. Visconti di Modrone 2 
One of the most elegant of the historic bars is Taveggia. Aperitivo time is a stylish affair drenched in 'old Milan', with sparking chandeliers and decadent Art Deco interiors. The tiny handmade nibbles that line the bar in the early evening are made fresh each afternoon and include tiny tuna vol-au-vents and piccolo pizzas. (+39 (0)2 7628 0856;

Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone 
Via Santo Spirito 10
A combination of upmarket delicatessen andvery Milanese restaurant in the city's historic centre. Fresh pasta parcels are made twice weekly in the basement kitchens by a rotund mama who spins her magic like a dance. The restaurant is the perfect setting for a discreet lunch for wealthy Milanese or people shopping around the quadrilatero della moda, where many of the world's major fashion houses sit in a quadrangle. (+39 (0)2 784650;

Pasticceria Marchesi
Via Santa Maria alla Porta 11
A Milanese institution with a wonderful history of exceptional pastries, biscuits, cakes and coffee. Go there in the morning and stand at the bar for a coffee and brioche. Then choose a panettone or pasticcini to take home and staff will wrap them in paper and ribbon in the traditional way. (+39 (0)2 876730;

Dolce & Gabbana — Gold
Via Carlo Poerio, 2/A
The Dolce & Gabbana bistro, bar and restaurant, Gold has a luxurious interior, and specializes in contemporary Italian cuisine. The restaurant is located down a quiet lane and dinner reservations should only be made for 9pm or later; otherwise, you may be there on your own... (+39 (0)2 757 7771;


Donatella Pellini
Via Morigi 9
Third generation jewellery designer Donatella Pellini's boutique is still found in her grandmother's original atelier in Palazzo Belgioioso, in Milan's historic centre. Donatella's pieces combine story and soul, and each one is handmade in her studio. (+39 (0)2 72010213;

Antonio Marras
Via Santo Spirito 14 
Dubbed 'the poet of fashion', Antonio Marras combines art and design in his magical collections. Italian myths and fables create the backstory for his work, and the results long outlive the trends. His beautiful boutique is found in a narrow street that feels like an extension of Antonio's studio. (+39 (0)2 7628 0991;

Corso Matteotti 1/A
Piero Fornasetti was an industrial designer, illustrator, interior decorator, engraver and artist and his designs are available for sale at the exquisite store on Corso Matteotti. Piero's son Barnaba is the custodian and guardian of his father's archives and a highly respected designer in his own right. This magical store is over two floors, with the extensive furniture collection downstairs. (+39 (0)2 89658040;

Luisa Beccaria
Via Marco Formentini
Beccaria is one of the most romantic and feminine of contemporary Italian fashion designers. Milanese women love her creations for their quality fabrics and exquisite construction. (+39 (0)2801136;


Secret tunnel tour, Castello Sforzesco
Piazza Castello, 1 
The Castello Sforzesco hides a series of secret tunnels, some of which were designed by Leonardo da Vinci for the House of Sforza in the late 1400s. Many of the tunnels were created so that the royal family could move around unnoticed, including Duchess Beatrice D'Este, who apparently visited da Vinci via the tunnels while he worked on 'The Last Supper'. Booking essential, no children under 8 years old. (+39 (0)26596937;

Studio Museo Achille Castiglione
Piazza Castello 27
When he died, the great architect and designer Achille Castiglione left his studio in the care of his family and they have opened it as an intimate museum to his work. Tours of the space are conducted detailing information about his work and legacy. A rare glimpse of the private space of one of the 20th century's most influential creators. (+39 (0)272434231;

Cimitero Monumentale
Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale
This graveyard is more like an outdoor sculpture museum than a classic cemetery, with many treasures hidden among its 245,000 square metres. Works of art by some of the Italy's greatest artists adorn the gravesites of Milan's most eminent citizens. Post-impressionist sculptor Medardo Rosso is buried here and his grave is marked with one of his own works — a quiet and poignant bust. (

Spazio Rossana Orlandi
Via Matteo Bandello 14/16
Rossana Orlandi's gallery and retail space is set in and around a courtyard so hard to find that visiting for the first time can feel like a game of hide-and-seek. Rossana has transformed the inside of a former tie factory building into this intriguing space celebrating all things avant garde. (+39 (0)2 467 4471;