When it comes to wining and dining, the Italians have nailed the brief. Here, Sarah Gamboni visits eight bars in Milan that have elevated aperitivi to an art form.
Dating back to 1867, this mosaic-tiled bar in the Galleria
Vittorio Emanuele II is the original home of Campari, the ruby-hued herbal liqueur created by Gaspare Campari. Stand in the front bar and help yourself to snacks, or take a seat at one of the tiny tables in the adjoining cafe. You’ll pay more for the privilege, but your expertly stirred €13 negroni (Campari, vermouth, gin) will come with an obscene amount of food, including plump green olives, pastries and potato chips.
No need for dinner, really.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele angolo Piazza Duomo, camparino.it
Packed to the gills with arty types
during Milan Design Week, this
old-school bar claims to be the
birthplace of the aperitivo, that fabulous Italian practice of having a drink and
a snack before dinner. Their signature
move is the negroni sbagliato, which switches out the gin in a classic negroni and replaces it with prosecco.
Via Plinio 39, barbasso.com
Established in 1817, this graceful cafe is one of Italy’s oldest pasticcerias (pastry shops). Flanked by Milan’s top fashion houses, it’s a favourite among the style set, thanks to its gilt surrounds and
black-tied bar staff. Squeeze among
the fur-clad throng at the counter for a
Campari and soda, plus help-yourself hunks of parmesan, prosciutto and crostini topped with paté or olive tapenade. While you’re here, browse the beautiful fruit tartlets and chocolates
in the jewel-like pastry display.
Via Montenapoleone 8, pasticceriacova.it
Il Bar, La Rinascente.
Boasting knockout views over
the Duomo, Il Bar occupies the
top floor of chichi department
store La Rinascente. Nab an
alfresco table, then linger over
an Americano (Campari, vermouth, soda) and its accompanying
spread of salty snacks.
Piazza Duomo, rinascente.it
A few doors down, the Terrazza Aperol is a must for a trademark Aperol Spritz on the sprawling terrace, backdropped by the Duomo.
N’Ombra de Vin.
This cavernous underground bar is housed in a 15th century monastic refectory in the arty Brera neighbourhood. All of Italy’s wine regions are on show, alongside noteworthy French examples. Try a crisp Franciacorta, Italy’s answer to Champagne, from the surrounding Lombardy region, or a textured white from Fruili. To eat, order platters of truffle mortadella, capocollo, salami and pecorino cheese with mustard fruits.
La Bottega del Vino.
A 10-minute stroll to the northern tip of Parco Sempione will bring you to this sexy slip of a bar. The industrial-chic space is an edgy blend of rough concrete, gleaming white marble and kitsch floral wallpaper. Pull up a stool at the communal table and order the Cynar Spritz, a palate-awakening mix of bitter-sweet artichoke liqueur, prosecco, soda and mint.
In the city centre, this popular, all-Italian wine store and eatery offers a broad sweep of the country, spanning easy-drinking prosecco and top-shelf Barolo. Trawl for take-home bottles while you wait for a table, then savour a plate
of fried artichokes and a glass of local sparkling. If you’re after something more substantial, make a meal of it with Piedmontese meatballs and a bottle of Barbaresco.
Next article: follow more of Sarah's Euro travels with a trip to Santorini.