Welcome to Far from the madding crowd – #2 Milan’s East End. This it the second of a series of posts which will guide you around less known neighborhoods of Milan, away from the busy center but where real locals go.
Breakfast will be a pleasure at Elettrautocadore, a former garage now turned into a versatile cocktail bar. It is quite popular among the hip Milanese youth and offers good freshly baked croissant since dawn.
Hop on bus 45 and head to Monlue’, a tiny rural village built around the eponymous Cascina Monlue’, an ancient abbey dating back to the 13th century. It ancient name, Mons Luparium, “hill of the wolves”, refers to a period in the past when the area was more hilly and infested by wolves, but the constant labour of monks has turned this wild land into a rich agricultural paradise.
Back to modern times! Take Passante railway and reach Marni outlet, brand of choice of the Milanese boho.
After spending money and energies in your shopping rush, what you need is a tasty stop. Pretend you’re in Berlin and pedal (or walk) to Upcycle Milano Bike Cafè, an urban meeting point where you can eat (food is super fresh and the menu changes every day), buy and read books, work, meet people.
Relax and smell the upcoming spring in the Botanical Garden of the Biosciences Department of the University of Milan, we bet you’ll feel like Alice in Wonderland as you walk among exotic plants and tiny ponds.
Piscina Caimi, a jewel of the ’30s, has been recently restored and brought back to life. The swimming pool is just part of a bigger project, including appartaments for the middle class, a theatre to rejoice the soul and a gym club to empower the body. The theatre named Franco Parenti has been recently renovated by world famous architect Michele de Lucchi and the swimming and it’s worth a visit in itself.
For a special dinner, we have two suggestions, at the two extremities of a wide range of restaurant choices.
L’albero fiorito is a jump back in time to the Fifties, when it was opened as a very basic informal bar & kitchen. Time hasn’t passed, here: be prepared to enjoy simple homemade food, to pay ridiculously small prices (pasta 3 euros, meat 5 euros), to share your table with other guests, to fetch water and wine yourself from the bar. And never, never tell Gianni, the owner, that we recommended his restaurant! A few years ago Corriere della Sera, the most important newspaper in Milan, wrote a very posititve review of L’albero fiorito. Gianni called the newspaper complaining about the crowd of new hip guests who were queueing at his door! By the way, it is not possible to book in advance, and be there not later than 7.30 pm (or a little before midday for lunch).
At the other end of the spectrum, I Valtellina restaurant will welcome you with an incredibly elegant and at the same time cosy and warm atmosphere, flawless service and the typical food of Valtellina, an alpine valley north of Milan. The valley is famous for a top quality red wine, Sfursatt, and for Inferno, a less noble but equally enjoyable wine whose name comes from the steep terraces where vineyards are grown, so steep that living and working there is like being in hell. But at Valtellina you will feel like you’re in heaven.