Go on day trips from Milan

The Milanese love going on day trips outside the gates of the city as they say and there are lots of wonderful places nearby. Here is the Insider Guide to the greatest places



50 km north of Milan is Como by the beautiful Lake Como surrounded by mountains.It takes about 1 hour from Cadorna station to Como lake and a return ticket is a little under €10. It’s a cosy and very beautiful small town with antique town walls and a great shopping area in the historical center and actually also the place where our personal love affair with Italy began many years ago.

Como is famous for its silk and we recommend you visit the outlet Diffusione Seta located at 8-11, Piazza Cavour (find on map).

When we were there last we had lunch at the super neat
Ristorante Sociale, 6, Via Rodari (find on map) – prices are reasonable and and the food is local and solid – but next time we are planning on trying out the much more sophisticated restaurant with all the great reviews
The Market Place, 21/A, Via Borsieri (find on map) – closed on Sundays.

Another fantastic thing to do here is to take the ferry from Como (just by Piazza Cavour) for e.g.Bellaggio or out to see the incredibly beautiful villas, located in the area. Here the app Navigazione Laghi is a really good tool – Download for Android | iPhone

You can go from Como with the funicular up to Brunate where on a clear day you get an amazing view of Lake Como and the Alps

There are several antique markets in Como:
On the first Sunday every month 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Piazza San Fedele (find on map)
On the second Wednesday every month (Except January and August) 8.30 a.m.-7 p.m. in Porto Torre, Viale Carlo Cattaneo (find on map)
On the last Saturday every month (except January and August) in Via Muratto og Piazza Ferretta (find on map)
On the third Sunday every month. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. (except January and August) in Via Spallino (find on map)


Then there is Bergamo, situated about, 45 minutes away by train from Milan. You can go from the stations of Stazione Centrale, Cadorna and Garibaldi

Bergamo is one of the few towns in Italy whose historical center is still located within the original town walls which have maintained their original aspect.

Bergamo is divided into two parts Bergamo Bassa (low Begamo) and Berrgamo Alta (high Begamo), Bergamo Alta  is the historical part of the town which you can get to either by the city funicular or by taking the 45-minute hike up.

There are monasteries, historical buildings and an ancient botanical garden.

The wonderful Accademia Carrara museum is located in Bergamo Bassa.

There is an antique market in Begamo Alta on the thrid Sunday of every month (except August) on Piazza Vecchia (find on map)

Among the many lunch places in Bergamo:.
Hostaria del Relais San Lorenzo, 9, Piazza Mascerono (find on map)
Antica Hosteria del Vino Buono, 25, Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe (find on map)

Villagio Operaio Crespi d’Adda.

A villlage built by the Crespi family for the workers on their factory. It was very advanced for its time (late 1800s) with free education for the children of the employees, a free indoor swimming pool and the first village in Italy to have modern public lighting. In 1995 the village was entered nto the UNESCO World Heritage List. The directions on how to get there can be found here.

Isole Borromee and Stresa.

The Isolee Borromee (the Borromean Islands) are located in the Maggiore Lake and can be reached from Stresa by boat, they are lovely at all times of the year but are paricularly stunning during springtime, They are famous for their amazing palaces and gardens. There are three islands: Isola Bella with the Borromean Palace and gardens, Isola Superiore (Fishmerman’s Island) a tiny island with a beautiful fishing village and Isola Madre with a botanical garden and Palace.

Stresa is quite close to Milan and can be reached from both the Central Station and the Garibaldi station, the trip takes about an hour.

Stresa has a lot of great restaurants where you can have lunch, some examples:
Antica Stresa, 34, Piazza Cadorna (find on map).
Astoria, 21, Corso Umberto I (find on map)

But you can also eat on Fisherman’s Island (Isola Superiore), example
Belvedere, Via di Mezzo (find on map).

San Pellegrino Spa.

If you feel like pampering yourself go for a day to the San Pellegrino spa (terme) (find on map), you need a car to get up there. Prices and opening hours here. A small piece of advice; go on a weekday.


Lodi is another town that is very near Milan, it takes about 35 minutes with the train going to Bologna, and you can catch it from both Stazione Centrale and Cadorna. Lodi is a lovely little town whose interesting archtecture dates all the way back to 1160.

There is an antique market in Lodi on the first Sunday of every month (except January and August) 8 a.m.7 p.m. on Piazza Castello (find on map)

A couple of good places to have lunch in Lodi are:
Antica Trattoria il Gattino, 71, Corso Mazzini (find on map)
Il Pomodoro Pelato, 48, Via Cavour (find on map)


And please don’t miss Vigevano in the province of Pavia. It takes about an hour to get there and we recommend taking the train from Porta Genova railway station (find on map)

IMG_7857Vigevano is an incredibly beautiful art town with an amazing renaissance square Piazza Ducale, considered one of Italy’s finest. There is also a castle, Vigevano’s own Castello Sforzesco which was transformed from a fortress to the residence of a prince in 1492-94 by Ludovio Sforza. Furthermore Vigevano is famous for making shoes and there is a shoe museum inside the Castello Sforzesco with no admission.

There’s an antique market in Vigevanoon the thrid Sunday of every month (except August) in the area between Piazza Piazza Martiri della Liberazione, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Via S. Croce (find on map).

Good places to have lunch in Vigevano:
Cappuccetto Rosso Bistrot, 4, Via Carrobbio (find on map)
Cafe del Mar, 34, Via Leonardo da Vinci (find on map)


Wine and Food.

If you love wine and great food there are some areas we recommend you visit and you could spend the night in one of the many agrotourisms. Some great areas are Franciacorta, Asti and Langhe (where, among other towns, Alba is located).

There are many food and wine festivals in both Piedmont and Lombardia. These festivals are great for getting an insight into small communities and their seasonal products (wine, truffles, cheeses, chestnuts, mushrooms, pumpkins etc.)


Star-studded restaurants outside Milan.

If you came to Milan by car there are lots of great restaurants in Lombardy. We want to mention:

D’O  Davide Oldani’s wonderful restaurant with 1 Michelin star, located in San Pietro all’Olmo, Cornaredo (find on map). Davide Oldani is the chef who invented the concept Pop Cuisine (Cucina Pop). Remember to book well in advance.

Cannavacciuolo Bistrot. 1, Piazza Martiri della Libertà in Novara (find on map) which belongs to Antonino Cannavacciulo, one of the new judges in the Italian edition of Masterchef.

Antonino Cannavacciuolo also runs the restaurant (with 2 Michelin stars) and hotel Villa Crespi at the beautiful Lago d’Orta.

You can find the Michelin guide’s other suggestions here.


















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When in Milan drink locally, DOCG wines from Lombardy

When visiting Milan you should be drinking the local wine from Lombardy, which are part of the culinary tradition in the area. Lombardy has five DOCG (di origine controllata garantita – guaranteed and controlled origin) wines and we want to introduce them to you and give you some ideas of what kind of food each of them is good with and what to buy home from your trip. Our wine expert, certified sommelier Luisa Benetti has been an invaluable help here.

A fantastic place for tasting wine in Milan is the historical winebar and -shop Cantine Isola located in Milan’s Chinatown at 30, Via Paolo Sarpi (find on map)

1. Franciacorta spumante, classical method.
As the first Lombard DOCG wine we have chosen the very sophisticated white (or maybe even rosé) sparkling wine, a DOCG spumante. classical method – also known as the Champenoise Method that is produced in Franciacorta (Lombardy, province of Brescia).

There are numerous quality wine producers, just to mention some of the most importantVisit the offical Franciacorta websiteones: Barone Pizzini, Bellavista, Berlucchi, Ca’ del Bosco, Contadi Castaldi, Il Mosnel, Monte Rossa.

“Sparkling wine is a versatile wine that can be drunk with most typical Lombard dishes e.g. risotto with saffron and ossobuco, cold cuts and, obviously, seafood but it is actually also outstanding with pizza.” says sommelier Luisa Benetti.


Some suggestions for those of you, who want to buy wine to take home.

€€€€ (over €100)

Franciacorta Rosé Riserva Cuvée Annamaria Clementi  (pinot nero) – Ca’ del Bosco

Franciacorta Vittorio Moretti 2004 Limited Edition Teatro alla Scala  (chardonnay – pinot nero) – Bellavista

€€€ (€40-100)

Franciacorta Cabochon Brut (chardonnay – pinot nero) – Monte Rossa

Franciacorta Pas Dosé  Riserva Bagnadore (chardonnay – pinot nero) – Barone Pizzini

€€ (€20-40)

Franciacorta Satèn (chardonnay) –  Il Mosnel

Franciacorta Alma Cuvée Brut (pinot nero – chardonnay – pinot bianco) – Bellavista

Franciacorta Pas Dosé Cellarius (chardonnay – pinot nero) – Berlucchi

€ (€10-20)

Franciacorta Rosé (chardonnay – pinot nero) – Contadi Castaldi

 Franciacorta Official Sparkling Wine Sponsor at EXPO

2. Sforzato di Valtellina.
Our next wine is a red wine and
if you like a robust and intensely scented red valtellina7wine with a deep red glow  you need to try out the Sforzato di Valtellina (or Sfursàt as it’s called in the local dialect in the province of Sondrio). This wine comes from the mountains where the so-called heroic viticulture has produced a very interesting DOCG, A wine produced of Nebbiolo grapes, that have first been let to wither , which may sound a little negative, but which results in a very robust wine, locally it is called Chiavennasca.

“Lo Sfursàt is a robust and elegant win, which is aged in wooden barrels. It goes well with strong tasting meat dishes or aged cheese. But you can just as easily enjoy a glass after dinner” says Luisa..

valtellina4Some of the best known producers are: Assoviuno, Bettini, Caven, Fay, Mamete Prevostini, Nera, Nino Negri, Plozza, Rainoldi, Triacca.




Some suggestions for those of you, who want to buy wine to take home.

€€€ (€40-50)

 Nino Negri Sforzato di Valtellina – Sfursat 5 stelle 2011

Bettini – Sfursat di Valtellina 2011

€€ (€25-40)

Fay – Sforzato di Valtellina, Ronco del Picchio 2010

Assoviuno – Sforzato di Valtellina, San Bello 2008

Rainoldi – Sfursat di Valtellina  2010

Triacca – Sforzato di Valtellina, San Domenico 2010

3. Oltrpò Pavese, classical method.
Our third DOCG wine comes from the area south of Milan in the hills in the province of Pavia and is another sparkling wine this time . Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG (Champenoise Method). 

The main vine variety used is pinot nero which was brought here from France in the second half of the 19th century.

oltrpo pavese 1 risotto con fragole

Our expert sommelier Luisa Benetti says:”This bubbly wine is suitable for vegetarian and vegan dishes e.g. risotto with strawberries or a more traditional pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). But it’s perfect for an aperitivo with appetizers as well.”

Some producers: Anteo,  Cà di Frara, Castello di Cigognola, Conte Vistarino, Giorgi, Montagna , Picchi, Podere San Giorgio, Tenuta il Bosco,
Torrevilla, Travaglino, Vigne Olcru

Some suggestions for those of you who want to buy some of this wonderful wine

€€ (€30)

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Brut Rosé Victoria 2008 (pinot nero) – Vigne Olcru

€ (€18-21)

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Pinot nero Pas Dosé ‘more rosé 2011 (pinot nero) – Castello di Cigognola

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Cruasé (pinot nero) – Anteo

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Pinot nero Conte Vistarino 1865  – 2008 (pinot nero e chardonnay) – Conte Vistarino

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Pinot nero brut nature 2010 (pinot nero) – Picchi

For more information visit the official website.

4. Valtellina Superiore DOCG.
For the fourth DOCG wine we return to the mountains in the province of Sondrio where we find a close relative to the Sforzato, an important red wine, the Valtellina Superiore DOCG.

vlatellina superiore 1It comes from the same vine variety the Nebbiolo, locally called Chiavennasca, from the same valley and the same heroic viticulture as the Sforzato and the Valtellina Superiore is also aged in barrels But an important difference is that the grapes aren’t left to wither.

If the label says ‘Riserva’ it means that it has been aged for at least three years..


Luisa Benetti, our sommelier and wine expert recommends the following five Cru: valtellina superiore 6Grumello – Inferno – Sassella – Valgella – Maroggia.

“The Valtellina Superiore is intense and smooth and goes well with pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese or a dish of meat and porcino mushrooms.” Luisa says.

Some of the most important producers are: AR.PE.PE, Bettini, Caven, Fay, Mamete Prevostini, Nera, Nino Negri, Plozza, Rainoldi, Triacca

Here are some suggestions if you want to take some Valtellina Superiore home:

€€ (€22-35)

Valtellina Superiore La Botte Ventitre’ 2002 – Bettini

Valtellina Superiore Inferno Riserva Fiamme Antiche 2010 – AR.PE.PE.

Valtellina Superiore Sassella Riserva 2009 – Rainoldi

€ (€20)

Valtellina Superiore Sassella San Lorenzo 2011 – Mamete Prevostini

Valtellina Superiore Riserva Signorie 2007 – Nera

Valtellina Superiore Inferno Carlo Negri  2011 – Nino Negri

5. Moscato di Scanzo.
Like any self-respecting  chef would we finish off with the dessert wine, the smallest DOCG in Italy, a real gem; the Moscato di Scanzo, a sweet red passito wine.

Scanzo is a small municipality in the province of Bergamo, its Moscato is a native Italian vine with an ancient history, the grapes are sun-dried for moscato di scanzo 2several weeks and the wine is aged for at least two years.

“The result,” says our wine expert, sommelier Luisa Benetti,”is a sweet wine that you can drink either with a chocolate tart or Marrons glacés – in Milan the most famous ones are from the Pasticceria Galli (find on map)”

Here are some ideas in case you want to buy some to take home:

€€€ (€35-50)

Locatelli Caffi – Moscato di Scanzo 2011

De Toma – Moscato di Scanzo 2011

Il Cipresso – Moscato di Scanzo Serafino 2010

La Brugherata – Moscato di Scanzo Doge 2011

Biava – moscato di Scanzo 2011moscato di scanzo 1

The best known producers are
Biava – Cascina del Francès – Cerri – De Toma – Il Cipresso – La Brugherata -Locatelli Caffi


For further information visit this website.

Orange wine is apparently all the rage this year so what is it and which Italian labels produce them?

They are the new rosé but rosé wine gets its colour from the skins of black grapes left to macerate for some time and then removed, so the wine doesn’t become red, whereas orange wines are made from white grapes and the macerating of the skins give them their spectacular colour, it is not a new process but a very old tradition indigenous to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. They are perfect with raw fish, meat and venison.

It may be hard to find in the wine bars right now but we assure you it is going to be a lot easier this autumn.

Here is list of the producers in Italy:

Orange wine.

Abbazia San Giorgio
Dario Prinčič
Il Carpino
La Castellada
Porta del Vento
Ronco Severo