Whether you want to vacation among the fashion elite, celebrate your new marriage with a major shopping excursion, or simply check Italy’s most glamorous city off your bucket list, we recommend adding Milan to your honeymoon to-do list. It may not be filled with as many ancient monuments as Rome or have the small-town charms of Florence, but Milan is not without its merits. Chief among them: its status as a major fashion capital and its unique positioning as the gateway to don’t-miss northern destinations, like: Lake Como, Venice, Portofino, the Dolomites, and more. Here’s how to discover the best of the city in a long weekend:
After landing at Milan Malpensa Airport, rent a car or hop in a taxi to make the 40-minute drive to the city center. Check into the Baglioni Hotel Carlton, an 87-room grande dame on Via della Spiga, one of Milan’s most trendy shopping thoroughfares. The hotel has a distinct mix of Old World heritage (antique furniture, upholstered walls, marble baths) and New School amenities (hip cocktail bar, Natura Bisse spa treatments, Wi-Fi included). Request a suite or deluxe room on a high floor; you may get a private outdoor terrace with tented seating, so you can order room service and eat outside like Italian royalty.
Hit the ground running as soon as you unpack—it’s time for pasta. Il Salumaio di Montenapolene, just a short walk from the hotel, has an adorable outdoor terrace where you can brush off those hours cramped on a plane with a bottle of local wine and to-die-for spinach and ricotta cheese tortelloni with butter and sage or tagliolini with porcini mushrooms. After a leisurely meal, stroll hand-in-hand for a few minutes to the famous Duomo di Milano (on your way, pass through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, to kill two birds with one stone). By mid-afternoon, the crowds will have thinned out, so take the opportunity to snap pics in the piazza, tour the cathedral’s cavernous interior, and ascend to the outdoor terraces, which overlook the city and allow for a close-up view of the building’s incredible architecture.
After some R&R at Baglioni—and maybe a few cocktails on your private terrace—make your way outside the city center to Petit Bistro, a cozy-chic restaurant in the Porto Nuova district, an up-and-coming neighborhood. Don’t be surprised if you spot fashionistas like Anna dello Russo at the table next to you (she’s a fan). Let the romantic vibe take over as you sample Italian classics like branzino and steak tartare, plus unexpected dishes like salmon teriyaki and curry crayfish.
The art and fashion worlds collided with much buzz last May when the Fondazione Prada moved into its new permanent home in Milan. The museum, seven years in the making, is co-chaired by Miucca Prada and designed by starchitect Rem Koolhas. Take your time perusing the installations and exhibitions on view (the museum has displayed works by big names like Anish Kapoor in the past), before grabbing a bite at the Wes Anderson-imagined café, Bar Luce.
Your dose of culture in Milan wouldn’t be complete without a viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. Tickets to see the mural at Santa Maria delle Grazie—located in the heart of the city—must be booked weeks in advance, but some luxury hotels can secure them at the last-minute in case you forget (but expect to pay a premium for the service). Even 15 minutes with da Vinci will assuredly be the highlight of the trip. Afterward, go for coffee at Pasticceria Marchesi, one of Milan’s most famous coffee and cake shops.
Make a dinner reservation in advance at Seta, the Michelin-starred restaurant at the new Mandarin Oriental Milan (don’t let the brand name fool you, the hotel is remarkably intimate and well-designed). Stop by early for cocktails at the bar, which has a hip tropical-modern vibe. Then make your way to the restaurant’s cute outdoor terrace for modern twists on Italian classics (potato gnocchi done with squid ink, oyster, and orange scented crab soup) and a 500-label wine list with many a delicious Barolo. If you feel like continuing your European cultural tour, have your hotel secure tickets for an evening opera at Teatro all Scala (the historic opera house otherwise known as “La Scala”), which is just steps from the Mandarin—and don’t worry, there are English subtitles.
Time to hit the streets—Milan’s prime luxury shopping is right around the corner on Via Montenapoleone. If the crowds become overwhelming, take a turn down Via della Spiga and peruse stores like Valentino (designed by architect David Chipperfield), Prada, Versace, and Dolce & Gabbana (the boutique on the corner of Corso Venezia houses a martini bar and a barber shop on the men’s side). If you’re not shopped out, stop by 10 Corso Como, arguably one of the first concept stores in world, founded by chic gallerist Carla Sozzani (sister of Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief, Franca Sozzani).
For an entirely different, more humble experience in Milan, visit Villa Necchi Campiglio, a historic house museum whose private garden is like a little oasis in the city center. But be sure to have your concierge confirm entrance times, as there are a limited number of guests allowed in each day and the museum isn’t always open. Once inside, expect romantic, intimate vibes—if you can, sneak in a bottle of wine and toast to your honeymoon.
For your last night in Milan, the city is your oyster: If you’re feeling fancy, head to the Bulgari Hotel Milan for dinner. There, you’ll find the new Dom Pérignon Lounge & Raw Bar—that’s right, an entire bar serving every Dom Pérignon Champagne imaginable (if you’re there on Wednesday or Thursday, you’ll also get a DJ spinning live tunes in the background). If you want something low-key, try Ristorante A Santa Lucia, on Via S Pietro All’Orto. The old school restaurant, founded in 1929, is supposedly the first pizzeria in Milan, and has hosted famous names like Josephine Baker and Liza Minnelli; so expect to end your trip in good company—in addition to your new spouse, of course.