Think Milan is all fash and finance? Think again, as our newest LUXE resident editor, Laura May Todd, gives us a peek into what life is like as a local Milanese, including her top five hot spots and things to avoid in the city.
Where are you from, and how did you end up in Milan?
I'm originally from Calgary, Canada, but I moved to Milan mostly on a whim with my partner, Davide, whom I met living in London. I had been visiting Italy with him for a few years and we eventually decided to make it permanent.
(Photo: Courtesy of Laura May Todd)
What’s your day job?
I’m a full-time writer covering design, architecture and travel for magazines like Architectural Digest, Wallpaper*, The New York Times: T Magazine, Cereal and Sight Unseen. I’m also working on my first book on interior design, which will be published this fall.
What’s the best thing about living in Milan?
Milan really has a little bit of everything, and there’s a great quality of life here. There are amazing restaurants, bars and galleries to keep you occupied during the week, then on the weekend you can abscond an hour or two to beaches on the Mediterranean or go hiking in the Alps.
Top 5 recommendations in Milan:
Six Gallery & Sixieme Bistro — This design compound is such a hidden gem. Go for the gorgeous skylit gallery in a former monastery, stay for dinner or aperitivo at the bistro that shares the palm-tree-filled courtyard.
Fondazione Prada — Miuccia Prada’s sprawling contemporary art foundation on the southern edge of the city is definitely a must-visit. But the best part? You can finish your trip with an aperitivo on their sixth-floor terrace bar with an incredible view of the skyline and the Alps beyond.
Via Paolo Sarpi — A pedestrian-only street that runs through Chinatown, this is where you can find me most Saturday afternoons/evenings. Tons of tiny takeaway windows have popped up along the road, so you can get a plate of dumplings or a bao to go while sipping on a glass of natural wine from Cantina Isola and milling on the pavement with the hundreds of other Milanese who had the same idea.
Bar Basso— The frozen-in-time cocktail bar famous for its Negroni Sbagliatos. At this point it’s so popular it’s kind of cliche, but it’s still a classic. It’s the one place in the city where you can always count on running into friends. It’s legendary for a reason!
Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano— The little sister to the more well-known Villa Necchi, it’s a beautiful liberty-style apartment designed by the same architect, Piero Portaluppi, for his daughter, who was an art collector. It’s still unchanged from when she lived there, that is, totally rammed with amazing Italian modernist paintings and design pieces.
And the biggest tourist trap?
Luckily, Milan is one of the less touristy cities in Italy, but avoid any restaurant that has an English menu posted outside.
(Photo: Courtesy of Laura May Todd)
Your best trip ever?
A road trip across Morocco to visit Hannesjörg Voth’s monumental land art sculptures in the Sahara. It was without a doubt one of the most incredible (and unspoilt) things I’ve ever visited.
And the worst/most memorable?
I once got into a fender bender with a professional bull rider at the end of a road trip in the Southern USA, causing me to miss my flight home. Perhaps it was more eventful than terrible, but memorable nonetheless.
Absolute favourite place in the world?
Hard to say! Either the Rocky Mountains close to where I grew up or the tiny farm deep in the Apennines of Modena where my partner’s nonna lives that’s been in his family since the 1500s.
What’s left/next on your bucket list?
Once COVID travel restrictions lift, my friends and I are planning a group trip to Thailand (I’ve never been!). Hopefully, that will happen sometime soon!
Finally, why do you love to travel?
I think I just love novelty, I always feel best when I’m discovering something new.
For more insider tips and insights on Milan...
See also: The LUXE Lowdown on Milan
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