Annie Schlechter

All roads may lead to Rome. However, in our exclusive tour of Italy, it’s all about the journey, which includes an exploration through the country’s vast history, its regional differences, and, most of all, its savory and colorful cuisine.

Milan

The lively capital of Italy’s Lombardy region is steeped in medieval and Renaissance history and architecture. Yet Milan is also a modern metropolis best known for paying homage to the past while keeping its sartorial shoes firmly planted in the present. To that end, such monumental and cultural landmarks as the world-renowned La Scala opera house, the famed 14th-century gothic Duomo, the edifying Milano Accademia, and Leonardo da Vinci’s ecclesiastical Last Supper share the same quadrangle in the city center that is home to Milan’s top eateries and the country’s most famous fashion designers.

Nowhere is the kinetic bustle of Milan felt greater than from the historic Piazza del Duomo, where tourist culture, commercialism, and sidewalk cafés collide within the famously domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II on the boomerang-shaped boulevard of the same name. Here, over a glass of vino rosso and a plate of carpaccio di tonno all’olio di oliva (tuna carpaccio in olive oil), is the perfect spot for people watching. Later, it’s the sound of music and the lively bar scene that will entice you to the bohemian Brera district, where regional specialties such as costoletta alla milanese (breaded veal filet) and risotto alla milanese (saffron rice) are often consumed with prosecco or Campari and soda by the throngs of art students from the nearby Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera who keep the cobblestone streets hopping well into the night. For the consummate oenophile, the Brera also houses Enoteca Cotti, the celebrated wine shop where you’ll find collectible vintage Barolos and super Tuscan Brunello di Montalcinos alongside more than 1,000 other worldly labels.

Although Milan can sometimes appear to be a drab, gray, industrial city — a reflection, no doubt, of its banking and political prowess — on every piazza or down any narrow street you’ll discover a wealth of colorful testaments to the city’s enormous contributions to the worlds of fine arts, fine dining, fashion, and furniture design. Many designers, including Roberto Cavalli, Giorgio Armani, and Dolce & Gabbana, even operate their own restaurants here. Meanwhile, all four creative and culinary disciplines are continuously on display at 10 Corso Como, an eclectic clothing and furniture boutique, art gallery, small hotel, and charming outdoor café that offers few necessities but almost everything you will most heartily desire. Learn more about Milan at ciaomilano.it, 011-39-02-7740-4343, or iat.info@provincia.milano.it.

Italians have made both the colorful French salade niçoise (top left) and the artful pasta integrale con fiori di zucca (whole wheat pasta with zucchini flowers, below) lunchtime staples at Restaurant Il Resentin in Milan’s fashionable Brera district, where bartenders serve them with Campari & soda; many enjoy a torta di mele (apple torte) to finish the meal; Milan is home to the world’s most decorative gothic cathedral on Piazza del Duomo, which is only a few blocks’ walk from the scholarly Milano Accademia; one of the many lively street cafés in the Brera district.