Most tourists crowd Italy’s famously beautiful cities like Florence, Rome and Venice, but the photographer Laura La Monaca, of the blog Daily Breakfast, makes a strong case for beelining to Milan.

By Alex Vallis
Updated May 23, 2017
Credit: Photo © Laura La Monaca

Most tourists crowd Italy’s famously beautiful cities like Florence, Rome and Venice, but the photographer Laura La Monaca, of the blog Daily Breakfast, makes a strong case for beelining to Milan. Though honored as the nation’s epicenter of fashion, travelers often skip by Milan because of its industrial reputation. La Monaca captures enough beauty (and showstopping gelato) to smash the stereotype.

Her desire to snap such moments started at a young age. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by my father’s camera and my own camera is one of the first gifts I ever remember getting,” says La Monaca. Lucky for us, she’s also obsessed with the good life. “My first word was latte, and I think the best way to spend money is traveling. I wanted to turn my passions into frames. This is why I like to shoot food in my kitchen/studio and landscapes, places and people wherever I can.”

Here, La Monaca shares her Milan travel guide.

What makes Milan such a special city?
La Madonnina. This cozy trattoria is a real gem. Anything on the menu is amazing. You can’t go wrong. On sunny days you can enjoy your lunch/dinner alfresco, on the patio. The menu changes every day, and a reservation is mandatory.

Fioraio Bianchi. Ten years ago a flower shop was turned into a café where now you can have breakfast, lunch, aperitivo and dinner. The menu is full of Mediterranean flavors. At lunch, try the brill with grilled vegetables, or the swordfish rolls.

Gold. This restaurant by Stefano Dolce and Domenico Gabbana reminds me of the flavors of Sicily, where I’m from. Having dinner here is a great experience. The menu changes according to season. Try carbonara risotto with sea urchin and tuna tartare. I really love this place.

Top Milan Bakeries
Pavè. It’s just around the corner of the crowded area of Corso Buenos Aires, and sourdough is the password. Try their pastries and the croissant filled with hazelnut-chocolate spread.

Davide Longoni. Fresh pasta, grissini, sourdough bread or just a cappuccino with a croissant while chilling out in the garden. You will forget you are in Milan for a while.

Best Gelato in Milan
Grom means gelato. The founders decided to go back to the start to make the best gelato in the world. Actually, I think it is the best in Milan. Pistachio flavor is a real pleasure for your palate and the fruit ones are made from organic farms, certified and approved after several controls.

Where to Drink in Milan
Carlo e Camilla in Segheria. This brand-new restaurant managed by Carlo Cracco is located in an old sawmill close to the city center. Filippo Sisti is not only the bartender, he creates the most amazing cocktails in Milan. Inspired by the idea of the liquid kitchen, his cocktails are an experience that involves all of the senses—try Dr. Ink. The Segheria is also a good place to have dinner.

Anadima. Stefano, the owner, will welcome you in this bistro in the Navigli area. There’s a great selection of wines from Italy and France, and Italian craft beers.

The Coolest Home Shop in Milan
Opened in 2002 in a tie factory, Spazio Rossana Orlandi is a store with contemporary and vintage furniture and kitchenware and a gallery where young designers are featured and promoted. During the design week in April, you can get lost in this marvelous space.

Insider Milan Boutique Hotel
The Navigli area is the most bohémien neighborhood of Milan. Here you can find beautiful tenements, also known as Vecchia Milano, and some alfresco restaurants and cafés. Eight years ago, Alessandro and Elisabetta decided to restore an old family tenement to make a home away from home hotel: Maison Borella. After almost four years of renovation, their Maison opened in one of the most iconic areas of Milan.

Affordable Milan Activity
The best way to appreciate Milan is to get lost. Go inside the beautiful courtyards (like the one at Via Col di Lana, 8), peek into private gardens (at Giardino Invernizzi you’ll see real flamingos!), grab a panzerotto (I mean, the one from Luini!) or a slice of pizza from Gino; spend the afternoon at Villa Necchi. Be curious!

Ultimate Milan Souvenir
Panettone is the best souvenir ever! You can find it anywhere from November till January. If you are not coming for a Christmas holiday, do not worry: Go to Pavè! They make panettone also in the spring, but if you are not lucky enough to find it, bring something else. Everything here is delicious.