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Four Things to See, Eat and Drink Off the Beaten Path in Milan

Updated on July 14, 2015

Tapping into the City's Hidden Gems

How many times have you heard avid travelers say ‘what is there to see besides the Duomo, the castle and the Last Supper in Milan?’ Most travelers who take the time to visit the city usually give it no more than one or two days tops and then check it off the list.

But if you speak to a person who is ‘proprio Milanese’ (born and bread in Milan), they would tell you otherwise. There are a number of hidden treasures here in Milan unbeknownst to the common traveler and rarely found in any travel guide. Whether it’s the returning traveler who thinks they’ve seen all there is to see in Milan, or the out of towner who has lived here a short time and is looking to explore other parts of the city, or even the first timer in Milan who wants the non-touristy experience, these top four ‘must sees’ will provide them with a whole new list of activities. Readers will learn how to not be swallowed up by the usual tourist traps while not breaking the bank at the same time.

Il Quartiere Maggiolina

Travelers will find this particularly interesting as it’s located quite a distance from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Once the area of an old farmhouse dating back to the XVI century, it has become quite residential. But if you narrow your search to Via Lepanto you will find the true gem of this area: houses in the shape of an igloo! Built in 1946 by engineer Mario Cavellè who imported the housing construction technique from the US, travelers will be happy to discover these quirky and seemingly out of place igloo houses that are still standing today.

Le Cinque Vie

Surprisingly most people make it through Milan without seeing ‘le cinque vie,’ even though the area is right under there noses, literally. We’re talking about the area between Cairoli and Missori consisting of Via del Bollo, Via Santa Marta, Via Santa Maria Podone, Via Santa Maria Fulcorina and Via Bocchetto. Tucked away behind the overly crowd streets of Duomo and Via Torino, the curious traveler will find solace in these peaceful streets full of monuments dating back as early as the Roman Empire.

A look at the original "cinque vie" of Milan
A look at the original "cinque vie" of Milan
Piazza Borromeo located along the original 5 streets of Milan
Piazza Borromeo located along the original 5 streets of Milan

Eat the Freshest Fish in Milan

Most travelers would be surprised to know that Milan has some of the freshest fish in all of Italy. For this, send them to il Pescetto. Whether it’s 2 in the afternoon or 7 at night, expect to wait at least 30 minutes, and that’s just to order. The place is mobbed anytime of the day, which certainly attests to its quality. The thing that your readers will find particular about this is that they order what they want directly from the display of fish and how they want it cooked then carry their trays full of drinks ‘cafeteria style‘ to any open table while they wait for their number to be called. It’s a bit noisy and chaotic and some may find the ordering process intimidating, but the curious traveler wants to get away from the typical tourist restaurant where the menus have pictures and English is being spoken all around them.

Order your fish at the counter and tell them how to prepare it
Order your fish at the counter and tell them how to prepare it
Fresh fish made to order
Fresh fish made to order

Happy Hour the Italian Way

First timers to Milan will want to enjoy the class milanese ‘aperitivo’ (Happy Hour)somewhere with a view of Duomo. But those who have been at the game before will need a relaxed place out of the spotlight. The farther they are from the center the easier it is on their wallet as well. For those looking to get off the beaten path, they can try Lacerba in Via Orti. Tucked away in a quiet street between Crocetta and Porta Romana, travelers will find professional and skilled bartenders and fantastic decently priced cocktails. If you really have a brave and flexible palette, tell the barman to make you a surprise and you’ll be blown away!

Get a chilled beverage during Happy Hour and enjoy a buffet of finger foods
Get a chilled beverage during Happy Hour and enjoy a buffet of finger foods
Fabulous aperitivos throughout the city offer all you can eat buffets
Fabulous aperitivos throughout the city offer all you can eat buffets

There will be tons of first timers in Milan just looking to check off the essentials on their list. But for readers spending more time in the city or for the curious traveler that wants to immerse themselves a bit more into the milanese culture, they will appreciate this days worth of well rounded ‘milanese activities.’


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    • poetryman6969 profile image


      3 years ago

      Some of the most different looking and interesting architecture I have ever seen. One would half expect to see Frodo or Bilbo coming out of some of these structures.


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