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Milano Alfresco

Going Green in Italy’s Grey City
  • 10 Corso Como

    10 Corso Como

  • Erba Brusca

    Erba Brusca Osteria

  • Erba Brusca

    Erba Brusca Osteria

  • Hotel

    Hotel Principe di Savoia

  • Fioraio Bianchi Caffè

    Fioraio Bianchi Caffè (Photos: © Emilio Scoti)

  • Bulgari Hotel

    Bulgari Hotel

  • Tearose

    Tearose

  • Townhouse

    Townhouse 31

  • Bulgari Hotel

    Bulgari Hotel

  • C-Hotel

    C-Hotel & Spa

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

The capital of Lombardy, in Northern Italy, a hop and a skip from the foothills of the Alps.

WHY GO

Though it’s got more of a modern, business-oriented feel than some of Italy’s other major cities, Milan is an often under-appreciated trove of cultural riches, from the Duomo to the world-class Brera Gallery. It’s also a must for anyone with an interest in fashion, with shopping to match its reputation as a global style capital.

HOW

Malpensa is Milan’s main international airport, linked to the center of the city by express trains, but Linate, which receives mostly shorter-haul flights, is closer to town and generally more convenient. Milan’s Central Station is well connected by rail to major Italian and European cities.

TABLET TIP

Ditch the zip-off touring pants and consider packing something dressy. Milan is a stylish city, and many of the guests at the city’s top hotels, especially the Bulgari, Armani and Principe Di Savoia, tend to dress accordingly.

Milan, May, 2013

In Milan, Italy’s notoriously grey industrial capital, green is gaining ground. With the city’s Expo 2015 dedicated to environmental issues, sustainable development projects are taking root all over town: architect Stefano Boeri’s Bosco Verticale towers, the urban reforestation project BioMilano and the new gardens at Porta Nuova, to name just a few. Clearly, there’s no need to wait until 2015 to get into the spirit. Here are a few suggestions for a green weekend in the città grigia.

Get Outside (the City Walls)
While the Parco Sempione and the Indro Montanelli Gardens are both “green lungs” inside the old city walls, the freshest air is slightly farther afield. Head for the Parco Nord Milano, whose eighteen miles of trails and fifteen hundred acres of reclaimed farmland are given over to leisure sports; to the western greenbelt formed by the Parco delle Cave, the Parco di Trenno and Boscoincittà; or to the legendary Parco Lambro, to the east, with its sprawling woods and its famous skate park.

Have a Garden-Fresh Lunch at a Country-Style Osteria
Traveling the length of the Naviglio Pavese canal (unmotorized, of course) from the Porta Ticinese city gate, you’ll come to a little country-style osteria with the air of an old tavern, covered in greenery: Erba Brusca. Born in France to a French father and an English mother, Alice Delcourt fell in love with Italy for its language and its cuisine. Local, seasonal, organic dishes are seasoned with herbs from the garden, and accompanied by sulfite-free wine.

Stop and Smell the Flowers
With the weather warming up, the city is in bloom. Start in the Brera district, at the Fioraio Bianchi, a flower-shop-turned-café where the old owner still shows up each morning to fill the place with bouquets. Then it’s on to Via Montenapoleone, where the Tearose’s Alessandra Rovati Vitali mixes scents, lights, flowers and fashion into a sensual fantasy. Finally, head to the Ticinese, where the Riva sisters tend their enchanted garden, Vivaio Riva, a greenhouse and urban-oasis-style event space where you can stroll the grounds with an evening drink.

Get a Shopper’s High at 10 Corso Como
For nearly twenty-five years, the concept store 10 Corso Como, by Carla Sozzani, has been a trendsetter in Milanese fashion and design. Perusing the wares, you’ll stumble across scented candles with Keith Haring designs, eco-bags by Stella McCartney and limited-edition Rosendahl teddy bears. And when you’re done shopping, the restaurant’s terrace and rooftop garden, dotted with sculptures and ceramics by Kris Ruhs, make perfect venues for some post-spending-spree relaxation.

Drink an Aperitivo in the Garden
Come cocktail hour, many Milanese hotels begin to spill outdoors, setting up chairs so guests can watch the world go by while sipping a drink. Located on the parkland of an old monastery, the Bulgari Hotel offers a happy hour from six to seven that’s beyond compare. Meanwhile, with its eighteenth-century fountain and its Fendi Casa furniture, the Principe Di Savoia’s Italian garden is another must. And the palm-shaded courtyard of Townhouse 31, though a bit less lush, is every bit as appealing for a leisurely alfresco drink.

Have an Escapade in the Country
Or in the southern suburbs, anyway — specifically at the restaurant 4cento, where you can play a round of outdoor hide-and-seek after dinner. The setting? An all-in-one castle, convent and winery that’s been converted by its new proprietor, Max DeLuca, into a restaurant and event space, as well suited for a family brunch as for a Fashion Week wrap party.

Head for the Hills
To really immerse yourself in green, go to Brianza, an agri-tourism wonderland in Lombardy’s Alpine foothills. The first stop is at the Giovanna Passeri culinary school in Monticello, where you can have a garden brunch and learn some of (someone’s) grandma’s old recipes. From there, ascend to Cassago Brianza, six miles up the road, to check in at C-Hotel & Spa, a design retreat with a high-tech spa. It’s hard to believe you’re just an hour’s drive from the Duomo.

Dante Nolleau

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CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

The capital of Lombardy, in Northern Italy, a hop and a skip from the foothills of the Alps.

WHY GO

Though it’s got more of a modern, business-oriented feel than some of Italy’s other major cities, Milan is an often under-appreciated trove of cultural riches, from the Duomo to the world-class Brera Gallery. It’s also a must for anyone with an interest in fashion, with shopping to match its reputation as a global style capital.

HOW

Malpensa is Milan’s main international airport, linked to the center of the city by express trains, but Linate, which receives mostly shorter-haul flights, is closer to town and generally more convenient. Milan’s Central Station is well connected by rail to major Italian and European cities.

TABLET TIP

Ditch the zip-off touring pants and consider packing something dressy. Milan is a stylish city, and many of the guests at the city’s top hotels, especially the Bulgari, Armani and Principe Di Savoia, tend to dress accordingly.


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