Milan Fashion Week: Opera Chic’s survival guide (part one)

If you're in Milan for Fashion Week, chances are you're just as frustrated with the city as we locals are: The shows turn the city into a cranky, chaotic mess of overbooked restaurants, nowhere to...


St. Ambroeus

What’s the best place for coffee near the shows? Marchesi (Via San Maria alla Porta 11/A); St. Ambroeus (Corso Matteotti 7: the one in New York has the same name but it’s a different company, the original’s in Milan), Cova (Via Montenapoleone 8); Taveggia (Via Visconti di Modrone 2); Caffe’ Ambrosiano Torrefazione (Corso Buenos Aires 20); Peck (via Spadari 9); and Biffi (Corso Magenta 87). And then there’s Zucca (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele corner Piazza Duomo), which is the only good/non-scam place to get coffee in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

Where can I get my broken heel fixed? Italians take their shoes very seriously, so, unlike in Manhattan, there doesn’t really exist a cobbler in Milan that has a quick turn around. It’s a week-long process, even to get the heel cap replaced! Bring an extra pair, or chunky platforms.

The taxi stand in front of Duomo.

How do you hail a cab in Milan? Cabs in Milan are very hard to find during Fashion Week or during the furniture design fair — have their own unwritten rules. The easiest way to get a cab is to find the nearest taxi depot. There’s a huge one in front of Duomo and at the major train stations and right at the beginning of Corso Como in Piazza 25 aprile. If not, you need to call a radio cab company and tell them where to pick you up. The more popular cab companies have the number 02-4040 and 02-6767. They start the meter early and there’s a premium, which means that sometimes when the cab arrives, it’s already clocked at 4-8 euros! If it’s late at night, you can hail a cab “NYC-style” and try to flag one down in the street (although they very often won’t stop). Final note: No one tips cab drivers in Milan; the taxis tack on a surcharge to your fare.

Da Mimmo Osteria

I don’t want to run into any fashion people. Where’s a good low-key place for dinner? Rigolo (via Solferino 11); Da Mimmo Osteria (Corso Garibaldi 75), where you won’t find fashion people, though plenty of Milan-centric celebrities; Libera (via Palermo 21); Zen Sushi Restaurant (Corso di Porto Romana and the corner of Via Maddalena 1); Trattoria Milanese (Via Santa Marta 11); and Paper Moon (Via Bagutta 1).

I want to see-and-be seen and do a lot of double cheek kissing. What are the hot restaurants I need to hit up? Da Giacomo (Via B. Cellini, corner of P. Sottocorno 6), Cucina delle Langhe (Corso Como 6), Da Ilia (via Lecco 1), Al Girarrosto (Corso Venezia 31), Antica Trattoria della Pesa (Viale Pasubio 10), Ibiza (Corso Garibaldi 108), Bebel’s (via San Marco 30), Bice (Via Borgospesso 12), and Bagutta (Via Bagutta 14).

Aldo Coppola salon

Where can a girl get a good blow out? Lots of options here. Aldo Coppola is a stylist-to-the-stars legend in Milan and owns his own chain of high-end salons. (Coppola’s right-hand man, Mauro Situra, does Naomi Campbell’s hair.) Our favorite Coppola hair salon is located in Corso Garibaldi 110, but there’s also one conveniently on the top floor of Milan’s famous department store, Rinascente, across from Duomo, and another downtown location on Via Alessandro Manzoni 16. Alessandro Lisi’s salon, Area #6 (pronounced “Area Sei” like the number, on Corso Concordia 6), is another heavy-hitter of high-end, celebrity hair stylists, models and fashion people (including Anna Wintour) flocking to his elegant shop. We also love Roberto Raso (Via Cerva 10) for its less hectic (but still glamorous) vibe. Raso is also a block away from Taveggia (via Visconti di Modrone 2), where you can get a post-blow out cappuccino and brioche and marvel at the 100-year-old interior. If you’re up by Corso Como, try Franco Curletto’s new salon, Curletto (Viale Pasubio 12).

Tomorrow: Check back for Opera Chic’s advice on where to get a manicure, an apertivo, a good quick lunch, perfume and soap and more.