Credit photo Sven Hagenberg
Many know about Milan’s fashion labels, but few know about its interior design industry. Considered the capital of design in Europe, Milan design firms are noted for spearheading the creative contemporary sensibility. The Istituto Europeo di Design is one of the world’s best schools for design, and every spring in Milan the Salone Internazionale del Mobile opens (the biggest furniture fair in the world). It is a pleasure to walk through the city and discover the sleek Milanese style and streamlined furniture in stores. But there’s so much more to explore if you like beauty and art, such as il Teatro alla Scala — the Scala theatre where Maria Callas became a diva; Santa Maria delle Grazie, a Unesco World Heritage site that includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper; the Duomo, superb museums such as the Castello Sforzesco, the Museo del Novecento or influential galleries like the Pinacoteca di Brera, which have a worldwide reputation.
Milan also has a wonderful gastronomy, which is different from typical Italian cuisine. There are no tomatoes or pasta but instead local dishes such as Milanese Tripe Soup, Risotto alla Milanese, Minestrone alla Milanese, and Cotoletta alla Milanese – all are alluring dishes with a very characteristic northern accent. The delectable Panettone Christmas cake known around the globe is also from here.
I discovered Milan is the most convenient destination to fly in to on a European excursion. You land right in the center of Europe, close to many other desirable destinations such as Switzerland, Bavaria, France, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Classic Italian destinations like Tuscany, Venice, Bologna, Florence or Rome are only a few hours away by car or rail. You can also fly easily to Bari, Naples, Calabria or Sicily to discover Southern Italy.
There is a plethora of fine hotels to please all tastes and styles. If you’re looking for a unique hotel with a lot of space, style and comfort, I recommend the Melia. Situated in the business center of Milan, it is next to the famous San Siro Stadium and is only a few minutes from the city center on the subway, easily reachable from the autostrada. A parking garage with 600 spots is in the vicinity, making it easy for car travelers. An imposing modern residence with a grand entrance hall, spacious corridors and comfortable large rooms and suites, the ornate Melia Hotel is decorated in baroque style with marble pillars, gold-rimmed mirrors and tapestries.
I enjoyed my room that came with a large black marble bathroom and a vast foyer. In the morning, a feast awaited me for breakfast in the Aurora restaurant, which included fresh ingredients such as salads, cold cuts, cereals, fruit, yogurt, grains, breads and various nuts. You can also enjoy a traditional American breakfast or a Chinese miso soup with numerous toppings. The presentation of the food is particularly inviting and typical of the love of design in this city. I also guarantee that you will make more than one trip to this table brimming with Italian culinary delicacies. For more information about the hotel accommodations, visit http://www.melia.com.
After I traveled by train through Switzerland and Northern Italy, and returned to Milan, I found the most convenient hotel was the Hilton within walking distance from the train station. Spacious and elegant with a vast marble lobby, the hotel offers comfortable rooms with plenty of natural sunlight and high ceilings. The king-size bed and the extra-large towels in the bathroom were much appreciated. If you upgrade your room, you can enjoy the executive lounge and taste complementary delicious local wines, American liquor favorites during happy hour, and hot hors d’oeuvres. After happy hour, access to the executive lounge is possible until 11 pm to help yourself to any non-alcoholic beverage you desire. There is also a restaurant on the ground floor, the Pacific Milano, that offers delicious Italian specialties as well as freshly baked pizza. To enjoy a late nightcap, step into the Cosmopolitan Bar Lounge for an Italian apéritif or a familiar American cocktail.
As I had an early flight from Linate Airport, I found this hotel’s proximity to the express bus at the train station extremely convenient and was able to enjoy a long breakfast at the wonderful buffet. If you want to visit Italy within the familiarity of an American institution, there is no better place than the Hilton Milan. The Hilton is situated Via Luigi Galvani 12. For more information about the hotel’s special deals visit: www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/italy/hilton-milan