Luca Finardi’s Milan

Courtesy Mandarin Oriental, Milan

The general manager of the Mandarin Oriental Milan shares some of his favorite spots in Italy’s modern cultural capital. Read more about the Mandarin Oriental Milan »

I’ve only lived in Milan for about six months, but I know all the best places in the city. Being from Florence—only an hour and a half away by train—I’ve been traveling here my whole life, and have been visiting very often for about the past ten years.

My favorite thing about Milano is its incredible energy—it’s the capital of business, fashion and interior design in Italy, and now it’s becoming the capital of gastronomy and nightlife. This environment attracts people from all over Italy and the world, making the city very alive. And of course there are also famous universities here, which bring in talented young people from all over the globe; it’s the cultural capital of Italy.

It's also an incredible opportunity to live with modernity—architecture, design, fashion—but also history. While the architecture of the city has evolved and wonderful new buildings and skyscrapers are changing the skyline of Milan, there are still little historical neighborhoods in the center, like picturesque Brera and Navigli, where you can relive Milan’s past. And do not forget that you can reach the lakes, the mountains and the sea in about an hour—the city isn't only for business, but also exceptional leisure. —Luca Finardi


What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? I’m not going to give you the Michelin-starred restaurants, instead I’ll give you recommendations for something with a unique flavor—where the local people go:

You have to start with a traditional Milanese restaurant, but you must visit more than one. My favorite is the Ristorante Solferino (Via Castelfidardo 2, 39-02/2900-5748). They make the most incredible osso buco—veal with Risotto Milanese. During the months of October, November and December, the best white truffles are not in Alba, but in this restaurant. It’s incredible what they can do with truffles—tagliolini, risotto—and the eggs with truffles are just amazing.

I would also take visitors to a great fish restaurant called Langosteria 10 (Via Savona 10, 39-02/5811-1649), a very famous place for its linguini with clams and shellfish tartare. It’s also very happening—all the top people from Milan eat here, so it may be difficult to get a reservation.

Where do you typically eat lunch? Here in the center there is a nice place right next to the Via Montenapoleone where the shops are, and right next to our hotel as well, called Café Bistrot Il Salumaio (Via Santo Spirito 10, 39-02/7600-1123). It’s very, very well known place—really lovely, beautiful Milanese trattoria with lots of local dishes, and you can eat there in 45 minutes if you need to be quick. You can eat either inside or outside on their beautiful patio. I like to get the tortelloni with ricotta cheese and spinach with butter and sage.

Otherwise there is Luini (Via Santa Radegonda 16, 39-02/8646-1917), which has the best and only panzerotto, a kind of pizza, in Milan. It’s only takeaway, but it’s an experience. This is good fun for someone who doesn’t want to sit down for lunch. 

Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? Cova (Via Montenapoleone 8, 39-02/7600-5599) is an historic Italian pastry shop with the best handmade Milanese panettone—it’s famous all over Italy. And there’s also Pasticceria Marchesi (Via Santa Maria alla Porta 11A, 39-02/862-770,), which has the best paste mignon, or miniature pastries, in Milan

Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? Ah, this is my specialty. In Italy we have three different phases for the perfect night. We start with the Aperitivo, the drink before dinner. I would definitely go to Ceresio 7 (Via Ceresio 7, 39-02/3103-9221), which is a really cool bar and restaurant opened by the fashion brand Dsquared. It’s on top of a building with beautiful swimming pools and an amazing panoramic view of the city. It’s great for an aperitif and dinner, or just an aperitif before dinner at Finger's Garden (Via Keplero 2, 39-02/606-544), a trendy Japanese-fusion restaurant nearby. After dinner, I would definitely go clubbing a little bit at Just Cavalli, (Via Luigi Camoens, 39-02/311-817) a fashionable and stylish night club.

What is your “after hours” bar? There are three bars that are the best in Milan: Dry (Via Solferino 33, 39-02/6379-3414), which just opened in Via Solferino. The best cocktail there is called “The Monk” which has a secret recipe based on tequila, and their barman is rated the best in the city. Then there is the Nottingham Forest (Viale Piave 1, 39-02/798-311), which is another fantastic bar. They are famous for their Polynesian cocktails with fruit, milk and soya (soy milk). There is also a very special place, a speakeasy called 1930—but it’s impossible to find. If you come to Milan maybe I can help you find the place, or you need to look it up when you get here.

Where do you go on your day off? I love to visit the lakes surrounding Milan, which are both just about a 45-minute drive from the city. So there are two options: There is of course Lake Como with a stop in Bellagio; but my favorite is Lake Maggiore, where you can have stop in Stresa, a very lovely town right at the front of the lake. From there you can take a boat—I did it myself and it’s amazing—visiting three little islands, Isola Bella and Isola Madre right next to each other, and then stopping at the last one which is called Isola dei Pescatori or “Fisherman’s Island.” You can have the best lunch right on the water at Trattoria Imbarcadero (Via Lungolago 12, 39-03/233-0329), tasting the best fishes for a very, very good price.

Where do you shop for gifts?  Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone are the most famous streets in the world for Gucci, Prada, and all the top fashion names. But I would suggest also the area of Brera and Via Manzoni where you can find very special places like E. Marinella (Via Manzoni 23, 39-02/8901-0842) for men’s ties and Il Cirmolo Antiquariato (Via Fiori Chiari 3, 39-02/805-2885) for antiques, trinkets and other classic gifts from Milan.

Where do you get a suit tailored? There are only two names: There is Tindaro De Luca (Via Gesù 15, 39-02/7602-1096), a master tailor unique in his creations; and the other one is called A. Caraceni (Via Fatebenefratelli 16, 39-02/655-1972), a renowned tailor since 1946.

Where is the best view in town? There are three places you must visit: Of course, walk up the 250 steps to the top of the Duomo for the best central view. I went there just two weeks ago and it was an amazing experience being on the top of the city. Then there is a latest tower from Unicredit, 25th floor. It’s amazing. It’s the tallest building in Italy. And then of course there is the artificial hill next to San Siro the football stadium, which is also very interesting.