Inside Bakker restaurant.

It is no secret Milan becomes densely populated during its annual edition of Design Week, drawing around 500,000 visitors — and from 188 different countries last year, for example. Exhibitions, museums, galleries, restaurants and streets are flooded with experts and curious observers alike in search of the latest design trends. This year, Design Week runs from April 8 to 14.

Last year, furniture and design trade show Salone del Mobile registered a 26 percent uptick in attendance compared to 2017. In 2019, the upward curve is expected to continue in light of the increase in the number of exhibitors, which has risen to 2,350 from 1,841. Of these, 34 percent are from overseas. They will show at the Rho Fiera Milano grounds in a net exhibition area of 2.2 million square feet.

The whole city is impacted by the events around Design Week. According to the Milan Chamber of Commerce, in 2018 about 23,000 companies and 128,000 employees were involved during the fair days; about 64 percent were committed to the hotel and restaurateur category, while about 22 percent were dedicated to the shopping sector. Of this, clothing and footwear represented about 50 percent.

The remaining 14 percent stood for related services, with transportation at the top.

Between the Salone del Mobile fair and the endless list of events and presentations part of the Fuorisalone schedule punctuating Milan, little time is left to live and discover the city. Therefore, optimizing time and distances is a smart move to catch what’s going on.

When in Brera:

Caffè Fernanda: Opened at the end of 2018, the project designed by Milan’s RGA Studio is in a very Fifties Milanese style. The café is an integral part of the Pinacoteca di Brera and therefore on display are several great works of art belonging to the museum’s collection, such as a 17th-century painting by Pietro Damini, Bertel Thorvaldsen’s “The Three Graces,” a bust of Fernanda Wittgens (hence the name of the café) by Marino Marini, as well as her portrait by Attilio Rossi.

28 Via Brera

Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Caffè Fernanda in Pinacoteca di Brera.  Cesare Maiocchi

When in 5 Vie:

Cripta di San Sepolcro: The oldest underground church in the city is holding the exhibition “Leonardo & Warhol: The Genius Experience,” which occurs during the events to mark 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci’s death. The exhibit offers a guided journey through the city of Milan as it was lived, designed and imagined by da Vinci, and ends with the view of Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper.”

Those who visit on a Friday can also enjoy a dinner in the area of the ancient Roman forum. Booking in advance is required.

Piazza S. Sepolcro

Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


“Leonardo & Warhol: The Genius Experience” at Cripta di San Sepolcro.  Dario Scalco

When in Tortona:

Massimo Pisati La Cucina: You can eat, you can buy original pieces of furniture and design and it’s close to one of the busiest design districts. The restaurant is located in a restored greenhouse and strategically located next to the interior designer Valter Pisati’s showroom, who is the co-owner of the restaurant and the chef’s brother.

1 Via Arcangelo Ghisleri

Tuesday to Saturday, 7 to 11 p.m., Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Inside Massimo Pisati La Cucina restaurant.  Courtesy image

When in Centrale:

Spazio NoLo 43: Located in NoLo, which stands for North of Loreto, this renewed area of the city hosts hipsters, young creatives and fashion galleries, forming a version of Manhattan’s SoHo. Spazio NoLo 43 is an eclectic boutique-café-wine bar that offers a sensory shopping experience through select artisanal products ranging from clothing, accessories, furniture and perfumes to art pieces.

A bonus: The Urbansolid open-air gallery. Along the railroad tracks, through the entire wall over Via Pontano, there are several constantly changing murals by top street artists from Milan.

43 Viale Monza

Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.


A view of Spazio Nolo 43.  Courtesy image

When in the tony district near Via Montenapoleone:

Palazzo Morando: The costume, fashion and image museum, located in an 18th-century building, is currently holding the “Bob Krieger Imagine. Living through fashion and music ’60 ’70 ’80 ’90” exhibition, which displays around 200 images, alternating editorials and ad campaigns from major Italian fashion brands.

6 Via Sant’Andrea

Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


A look by designer Mila Schön from 1969.  Bob Krieger

When in Lambrate-Città Studi:

Bakker: “American meat, Argentine cooking, Italian wine” — that’s the philosophy behind this newly opened restaurant. Specializing in meat – with a few vegetarian options – the menu offers dry aged meat, which helps the meat become more tender and tasty.

Viale Romagna, 58

Monday to Saturday, Noon to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to midnight, Sunday, Noon to 3 p.m.


The interior of Bakker Restaurant.  Roberto Morelli