After my initial research trip around Italy in March – April 2014; I vowed to return each year… largely for research (obviously) but mainly because it always brings me such happiness. I love the culture, the architecture, the food, the language and everything about it really. I try to visit new places every year; so 2018 included Milan, Genoa & La Spezia.
Milan is known to be the home of aperitivo, and as the inspiration for Monty was modelled upon this concept, I wanted some fresh inspiration ahead of his launch. I also wanted to show Rachael what ‘aperitivo’ really meant, and how great Italy was. Other than the food aspect; I’ve never been overly interested in visiting as I imagined it to be quite built up, and more industrial than the other, more scenic parts of Italy.
We arrived into Milan at 11.30am and were both very excited about our first snack. We agreed we would ‘food hop’ our way through Italy so that we could eat as much as possible! Our first stop was at a place called Luini; which was actually recommended across various websites. There were queues coming out of the doors, so I saw that as a great sign! We went for a slice of focaccia with onions on it, a Venezia cake and a pesto, mozzarella and tomato panzarotto. Because of my impatient hunger levels; we ate on a very picturesque (not!) curb opposite the shop. All of the food was a little disappointing – they were fairly dry and didn’t taste as much. I couldn’t fully understand how Luini was so popular based on what we ate.
We moved on, and hoped for better food to come! Our next stop was a gelateria; where we ordered a mixture of Nutella, ricotta and fig, chocolate and pistachio flavours. We ate them in front of the hugely impressive cathedral and enjoyed the warm spring sun. We both agreed that the cathedral was up there in the best we’ve ever seen – it was just exquisite and it remains a highlight of the trip. Milan in general was a lot nicer than I expected; it is a big city and it was a struggle to cover all of it in a day. We ended up walking 20km in a bid to see as much as possible. We loved the architecture and the beautiful archways encompassing the hundreds of boutique shops.
We had a quick rest at our hotel, Old Milano House, which by the way – never stay at! It was in the student area, which was recommended to me as a great place for aperitivo, but as it turned out, we took the metro to Corso Sempione instead. Only 1.50 euro each way; the metro proved more favourable over a 50 minute walk! We stopped for our first aperitivo at a small little bar on the side streets. 5 euros for a good selection of wines; and a good array of light bites. We filled our plate up with carrot sticks, bruschetta, crisps, ham and salsa to wash down our Soave and Primitivo.
We were aiming to go to Deseo; as it had a chocolate fountain and that just sold it for us! However, we actually decided on the bar opposite (neither of us can remember its name unfortunately L ) but the aperitivo buffet was piled high with everything from popadoms (yes, really!), to lasagne, mashed potato, meatballs, roasted vegetables to cheese, tiramisu, cheesecake and fruit. All of that for 11 euros; with any drink! We chose cocktails and went up for our first course.
The food was actually delicious. I ended up having three plates; they were teeny tiny though! And, oh wow the cocktails were STRONG. We both felt quite merry after just a few sips! I like the Italian style! We both had numerous servings of focaccia, as it was so soft and fluffy and incredibly moreish. It was an awesome ending to our first day in Milan and it really reinforced how much I love the concept of aperitivo!
We had aimed to go to Naviglia for more drinks, however, our phones were running low on juice and we were worried we would never find our way back to our accommodation. How did people survive without phones?! Crazy.