San Babila, Milan: a guide Corso Venezia, source: Flickr/Roberto Ventre

San Babila, Milan: a guide

Bordering the Quadrilatero d'Oro this central Milan neighbourhood is a shopping hotspot with some hidden secrets.

As often happens in Italian cities, the San Babila area is focused on a church, in this case with a legend connected to the weathered column just in front with a Romanesque-style lion on the top. There is not much left of the original church, which dates back to the late 11th century, and which narrowly escaped demolition in 1826. The lion was supposedly left behind by Venetian troops during the constant skirmishes between the two city-states for the control of northern Italy, when their plans to mount a surprise attack were thwarted by a gallant baker at work early in the morning.

Today, Piazza San Babila is like a gate to the pedestrian shopping street of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the ‘Quadrilatero’ or top fashion boutiques district, the design stores of Via Durini, and the mansions and museums of Corso Venezia. Jealously-guarded portals open onto vistas of unsuspected gardens and an apartment in such a building is probably the greatest status symbol of them all in this city.

WHAT TO SEE

Villa Necchi Campiglio

Villa NecchiVilla Necchi Campiglio, source: www.lombardiabeniculturali.it

Built in the 1930s for a private Milanese family and now open as a museum, Villa Necchi is a fine example of Novecento architecture and provides a peaceful haven in Milan's city centre. The beautiful house and gardens with swimming pool were heavily featured in the film 'I am Love' starring Tilda Swinton. www.visitfai.it/villanecchi

Gallerie Arte Moderna (GAM)

GAMGallerie Arte Moderna

Located in the fabulous Villa Reale at the south of the Giardini Publici park, the GAM houses a very impressive collection of 19th-century paintings that focus on modernism. These include works by Boccioni, Modigliani, Pellizza da Volpedo and Previati as well as non-Italian modernist painters like Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso, Manet and Van Gogh. The museum also plays host to moving exhibitions and visitors can also relax in the peaceful garden. www.gam-milano.com

Basilica di Santa Maria della Passione

A large late Renaissance church with unfinished façade, twin pipe organs, and above all the sala capitolare, a room with paintings by Ambrogio Bergognone.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Taveggia

TaveggiaTaveggia

One of Milan’s classic old-style bars with Art Deco interiors which is great from breakfast right through to light lunches and aperitivo. It was a favourite with opera singers Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi as well as writers and intellectuals. www.taveggia.it

Asola Cucina Sartoriale

Part of the Brian & Barry Building in Piazza San Babila on the corner with Via Durini, Asola Cucina Sartoriale (the name translates to ‘buttonhole sartorial cuisine’) features a state-of-the-art open kitchen where chef Matteo Torretta transforms cooking into a blend of performance, tailoring, colour and flavour, with contemporary style and traditional ingredients. On a sunny day, reserve a table on the ninth floor roof. asolaristorante.it

Ristorante Peppino

Traditional Italian cuisine, with a menu including a range of fish dishes using fish purchased direct from two boats on the Adriatic and Ligurian Sea. www.ristorantepeppino.it

Santa Lucia

Santa LuciaSanta Lucia

This restaurant introduced Neapolitan pizza to Milan in 1929, and still today its pasta, fish recipes and pizzas attract countless faithful guests. The dining room is as it was in the 1930s. www.asantalucia.it

Terrazza12

Located on the 10th floor (level 12) of the Brian & Barry Bulding, this recently opened lounge bar boasts a spectacular view of the Madonnina atop the Duomo surrounded by Milan's new skyline. Decor is 1950s inspired and cocktails are prepared by professional mixologists. www.terrazza12.it

WHERE TO SHOP

The Brian & Barry building

Brian and Barry Building

Twelve floors of fashion, beauty, watches, jewellery, home products, food and wine, open every day from 10am to 8pm. It is in a minimalist 1950s building by architect Giovanni Muzio, and the interiors are sleek to match, in concrete, plate glass and steel. If you’re peckish, there are several dining options, including the Hamburgheria serving burgers with locally-sourced meat. thebrianebarrybuilding.it

Boggi

For classic menswear that nonetheless feels exactly in tune with the season’s fashion, you can’t go wrong with Boggi, a brand that proudly displays its Milanese identity in its logo. www.boggi.it 

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce and Gabbana Mens Shoes StoreDolce and Gabbana Mens Shoes Store, source: www.facebook.com/DolceGabbana

The Sicilian duo's men's beautiful flagship store is located on Corso Venezia next to their original Milan location. Housed in a 16th century neoclassical palazzo the space is decorated with tables, wardrobes, shelves, chairs and armchairs that are original pieces from the 1920s and 1930s. It includes the recently launched Made to Measure (Satoria) range as well as the Martini Bar and close by are the womenswear, accessories plus childrenswear stores. www.dolcegabbana.com

De Padova

De PadovaDe Padova

The flagship store of this high-class Italian design institution is located on the corner of Corso Venezia and Via San Damiano. Each floor is dedicated to a different furniture - bedrooms, living room, office and accessories. www.depadova.com

Cassina

Another Milanese design company that has been in the business for 80 years is located in an elegant space on Via Durini. www.cassina.com

1 Villa Necchi Campiglio
2 Gallerie Arte Moderna
3 Basilica di Santa Maria della Passione
4 Taveggia
5 Ristorante Peppino
6 Santa Lucia
7 Brian and Barry building
8 Dolce & Gabbana
9 De Padova
10 Cassina
11 Boggi
 

Navigli
Duomo
Quadrilatero d'Oro
Corso Como and Garibaldi
Porta Romana
Isola
Tortona
Sempione

 

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