Why is everyone always inviting me for an aperitivo? What is aperitivo anyway?
Aperitivo is happy hour, and a staple of Milanese social life. It starts around 6pm and runs until 8 or 9. Bars put out bar food (focaccia, olives, pizza, cheeses, etc.) and you pay a flat-fee of 6-8 euros a drink. Lots of people skip dinner and just do aperitivo. O.C.'s recommendations for aperitivo are Da Claudio (Via Ponte Vetero 16), Victoria (via Clerici 1), Principe di Savoia's Il Giardino (Piazza della Repubblica 17), and the bar at the Park Hyatt (Via Tommaso Grossi 1).
Is there a place to get a manicure in Milan?
Milan hasn't caught on to NYC's manicure mania, but you can still get your nails buffed and detailed. The best place we know is Enhancements (Via Solferino 46), established by an American living in Italy who wanted an American-style salon in a Milanese setting.
Where can I go for a casual (yet chic) lunch?
If you feel like sitting down for lunch but don't want the hassle of going to a full-on trattoria, there's Trussardi Cafe (Piazza della Scala 5), the downstairs, casual cafe attached to the Trussardi boutique overlooking Teatro alla Scala. You might find yourself sitting next to an opera singer or conductor on their lunch break. At Peck's Italian Bar (Via Cesare Cantu, 3), you can get Il Club Sandwich Peck, a plate of culatello, a cheese plate, or smoked salmon, all in the classic, pristine Peck style. Bianco Latte (via Turati, 30) is one of Milan's top places to go for gelato, but they also have a fabulous lunch menu. If you're in the Brera section, we love either Antica Osteria Stendhal (Via Stamira d'Ancona 1) for their salads or Radetzky Cafıı (Largo la Foppa 5) for their panini.
Where's the best place to buy tights?
Milan style is all covering your legs. We like to stock-up on our tights at Wolford (Via Bigli 21). If you're in the center of the city and want an affordable, disposable option, Calzedonia is a great chain that offers tons of styles (Via Torino 15, Corso Buenos Aires 45, and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 11).
Best store to buy perfumes and soaps?
Erboristeria L'erbolario. We like the one on Via Dell'Orso 18 at the top of the Brera section. Browse all the products and walk out smelling fabulous for a bargain (OC loves Corteccia, which smells like sweet cedar and oak). Penhaligon's (via Brera 23) is also too excellent to pass up; there, OC goes for the spicy unisex of Opus 1870. There's also Profumo "Profumeria" (via Brera 6), which has a fabulous selection of hard-to-find products, and the amazing Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (Corso Magenta 22), where the artisanal perfumes and soaps are sold in sumptuous, hand wrapped packages.
Where's the best place to get chocolate?
Pay a visit to the 99-year-old Giovanni Galli (Corso Porta Romana 2 or Via Victor Hugo 2) for fresh chocolate and candies. The shopkeepers are a bit surly, but it's worth the lack of customer service. Don't pass up their marron glace.
Between all the shows and appointments, there's hardly any time to shop. What's worth a fashion insider's while?
Pupi Solari is the doyenne of Milanese style: understated, elegant, and swathed year round in cashmere. Her store (Piazza Nicolıı Tommaseo 2) is where Milanese women go to get ballet flats to match their latest Hermes bag. Don't mess with Pupi. There's also Isabella Tonchi, the wacky sister of Stefano (head editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine) who has her own store behind Corso Como (Via Maroncelli 5). Her clothes follow a playful yet streamlined and elegant ethic.
Look for regular dispatches from our favorite (and anonymous) opera blogger, the Milan-based Opera Chic, every Wednesday. See her previous W posts HERE.