After spending 16 years living in Italy’s fashion capital, Mario Picozzi knows his adopted hometown. As head concierge of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Milan, the Les Clefs d’Or member has curated a knowledge of hidden gems and flavorful finds that he’s willing to share.
We spoke with the street-smart guide to learn about the city’s less-trodden treasures, its chicest spots for a cocktail and how to spend a day in Milan like a local.
What’s the best way to start the day in Milan?
Milan is beautiful and different during every hour of the day. It is amazing to start the day with a run or a walk around Sempione Park, starting from the Castello Sforzesco very early in the morning.
Then, I love to have breakfast at Pasticceria San Carlo in the residential area of Corso Magenta.
Now it is time to visit the Leonardo [da Vinci] masterpiece The Last Supper inside the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie [church]. I love to continue the day with a walk and an aperitivo on the Navigli, the artificial channels designed by Leonardo.
What are some of the city’s more underrated works of art?
According to me, the San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is a real pearl in Milan. It is located in the same area as The Last Supper, but unfortunately it is not so well-recognized as a masterpiece. The main artist who created the [church’s frescos] was Bernardino Luini, [a friend and contemporary] of Leonardo da Vinci.
Moreover, another not-so-well-known spot is Santa Maria presso San Satiro church, which is located on Via Torino, one of the busiest roads that leads to Duomo square. The church was built in 1478 thanks to Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan during the Renaissance.
The third masterpiece is San Sebastiano church, built to thank God after the black plague hit Milan during the year 1575. This church is one of the only in Milan with a circular floorplan.
After all that exploring, where should we go to grab a drink?
At the moment, the place to be is a new restaurant called Bullona. It’s one of the latest trendy restaurants opened in Milan with a lively lounge with DJ sets after dinner. The Italian menu offers traditional recipes with a nice selection of fish and seafood.
Camparino in Galleria inside the Gallery Vittorio Emanuele [which is closed until later in the fall] is a historical bar that has been serving spritz and negroni cocktails since 1915 overlooking the Duomo.
Ceresio 7’s big inside area — facing the modern skyline and newer area of the city — is enriched with the presence of two swimming pools and a terrace with a view.
Mandarin Bar & Bistrot is our informal bistro with a modern and vibrant ambiance, just steps from the Montenapoleone area.
What are your top insider tips to help us see Milan like a local?
Take a walk in Brera [arts district] during aperitivo time on Saturday.
Grab a coffee at Marchesi 1824 pastry shop inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.