Milan is back at it.
The city has been abuzz with events and happenings throughout the month, signaling that life after COVID-19 might be a bit different (social distancing and face masks are still mandatory) but still as exciting as before.
With Milan Fashion Week kicking off, here are the new food destinations and exhibitions to hit in between fashion shows and presentations.
There’s a new veggie destination in town, one that has quickly earned extra points for making healthy cravings very Instagrammable.
Founded by Milan entrepreneur Edoardo Valsecchi, Linfa is a restaurant nestled in the city’s Tortona design district, a few steps away from the Armani/Silos exhibition space.
Valsecchi’s mission is to promote the concept of a plant-based, responsible restaurant, where the attention to food and impact on the environment are central. For example, while the menu is filled with veggie interpretations of Mediterranean cuisine made using only fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, the kitchen is equipped with machines that optimize and reduce energy consumption, which is also derived from renewable sources.
“Linfa [intends to be] the bearer of that positive change that we all want to see in Milan and Italy,” said Valsecchi. “It was created to serve, inform and inspire a cultural evolution toward quality, plant-based eating and drinking, promoting the experience of [having] a healthy and tasty meal,” he added, underscoring that one of his goals is to enable consumers to access and discover “the wide range of vegetal food options available, helping to create awareness around food choices and their impact on our planet.”
Dishes include beetroot potato gnocchi served with a black garlic cream, mousse of Gondino vegetal cheese, pears and black sesame sprouts, as well as quenelles of pizzoccheri pasta served with sweet potato cream, sage tempura and puffed buckwheat, among others. An assortment of desserts — including the “Tiratisù,” a reinterpretation of the famous Italian sweet — and an extensive list of cocktails and wines complete the offer, presented with a focus on portions and color combinations.
The approach is mirrored in the interior concept developed by architect Simone Riva, who collaborated with local artisans to revamp the space, which formerly housed a workshop. The cozy, pastel-hued location now features four areas, including one dominated by the central bar for drinks, a private dining room, a hall overlooking the kitchen to offer the opportunity to peek into the chef’s work and a covered terrace to enable guests to enjoy a meal outside throughout the year.
Linfa Milano – Eat Different
24, Via Bergognone
Monday to Sunday from 6 to 11:30 p.m.
Anima and Vertigo
The new hotel Milano Verticale by UNA Group located a few steps from Corso Como contains two restaurant projects overseen by Enrico Bartolini, the Tuscan chef awarded four Michelin stars at once in 2016, including two for his namesake restaurant in Milan’s MUDEC museum of cultures.
His new ventures are the Anima gourmet restaurant and Vertigo, which is billed as a contemporary osteria and urban garden bar.
The former offers a fine dining experience with only 10 tables in a refined atmosphere developed by the Vudafieri Saverino Partners design firm, which conceived the interior concept of the whole hotel. To enhance Anima’s exclusivity, two private rooms are also available, including one overlooking an open cellar whose management is in the hands of sommelier Giacomo Morlacchi.
For more casual occasions, Vertigo serves staples of Italian cuisine, ranging from eggplant parmigiana and spaghetti with clams to Fassona meat tartare and Milanese traditional meatballs “Mondeghili.” The informal and expansive location — whose design juxtaposes polychrome marble, brass and wood elements — is flanked by a modern decor ideal for open-air business lunch breaks and Sunday brunches as well as aperitivos and after-dinner drinks.
In addition to the easy-to-approach menu, a cocktail list offers Vertigo’s guests classics of mixology and original creations executed by experienced bartender Luca Ardito.
4, Via Rosales
Monday to Saturday from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Vertigo – Osteria Contemporanea and Urban Garden Bar
4, Via Rosales
Monday to Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Already a favorite spot among fashion folks and socialites, Canapè opened earlier this month in central Via della Moscova banking on a multipurpose concept that combines a bistro, cocktail bar and shop.
There’s one underlying element to the spot’s concept: hemp. From seaweed and avocado salads topped with sesame and hemp oil, to hemp-smoked Argentinean prawns served with mashed celery and tangerine, dishes exude a distinctively Asian inflection, with some nods to revisited Italian cuisine, as in the hemp pesto pasta. They are offered along with cocktails developed by Gianluca Amoni, in which spices, aromatic plants and unexpected ingredients are used to great taste and visual effect.
If one is ordering a dessert to cap off dinner, don’t forget to ask for the Street Punk spirit, a blend of vodka, lemon, and sugar served in a phial-like glass filled with pearls of red fruits, banana, elderflower, melon and cocoa. With its modernist furniture and subdued lighting and a secret room in the basement for private events, Canapè is the ideal spot for a late-night dinner or after-hours cocktail party.
To top it all off, the space features a shop that sells home fragrances, beauty masks and infusions derived from plants — hemp included, of course.
48, Via della Moscova
Monday to Friday from Noon to 2:30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The Sanctuary Milan
The frenzy caused by the return of IRL shows, presentations and events might spur many to seek a retreat to recharge before heading off to Paris for fashion’s next leg.
If the clock is ticking and getaways far from the city aren’t an option, indulge in a dinner at the Sanctuary Milan, a new food and entertainment destination billed as an “eco retreat” that offers an exotic oasis to take refuge for a few hours before returning to the urban reality.
After being successfully installed in Rome and having staged summer stints in Italian resort destinations such as Porto Cervo in Sardinia and Ostuni in Apulia, the concept founded by Stefano Papa and Simone Menassè landed in Milan in a temporary format that runs through Dec. 31.
It found a home in an abandoned warehouse at the former railway yard Scalo Lambrate, which is a 30-minute drive from Milan’s downtown and has been at the center of a rejuvenation project by the city’s municipality. As part of the revamp, the 16,146-square-foot area has been repurposed to become a social and cultural hub by hosting an art gallery displaying local artists and artisans, coworking stations and wellness corners, in addition to The Sanctuary restaurant and bar.
Keeping the industrial appeal of the original venue and adding communal tables, maxi pillows on the floor, lanterns and hammocks in the courtyard, The Sanctuary channels boho-chic vibes that evoke a mix of destinations and aesthetics.
The menu and entertainment reflect this Bali-meets-Tulum-stopping-by-Marrakech approach, as courses encompass reinterpretations of shrimp tempura, veggie udon, tacos, ceviche and starters such as hummus and baba ghanoush, all served while live rituals, fire performances and DJ sets are staged.
Fortune-tellers are also occasionally at the disposal of guests — in case a little help with predictions about future fashion trends is needed.
The Sanctuary Milan
12, Via Pietro Andrea Saccardo
Tuesday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Irving Penn at Cardi Gallery
For a daily dose of artistic inspiration and an injection of photographic beauty, a stop by the Cardi Gallery show space will work wonders.
The venue just unveiled a comprehensive exhibition on Irving Penn, offering the opportunity to experience the breadth of the iconic photographer’s work for the first time in more than 30 years in Milan.
Running through Dec. 22 and spanning over two floors of the pristine exhibition space, the show explores Penn’s signature fashion photography and more, as it includes an entire area dedicated to his work related to Italy. Here, classic portraits of some of the country’s most prominent personalities — such as Sophia Loren, artist Giorgio de Chirico and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti — are flanked by photographs taken locally during World War II.
Overall, the body of work showcased at the gallery stretches from the ‘40s to the ‘90s and includes portraits, imposing photographs of street debris and surreal still-life images, which particularly exemplify the key role Penn played in modernizing the medium by showing its creative potential in times when it was considered a mere tool of communication.
Fashion and beauty highlights at the exhibit include a selection of editorials and covers produced for Vogue, such as the “Black and White Vogue Cover” and “Bee” iconic images dated 1950 and 1995, respectively.
Mentored by the legendary photographer and art director Alexey Brodovitch, Penn began working as a commercial artist for Harper’s Bazaar in the late ‘30s and later for American Vogue in the early ‘40s. Encouraged by Vogue’s editorial director Alexander Liberman, he committed to professional photography in 1943 and over the following 60 years lensed more than 150 covers for the glossy publication and also produced thousands of editorials celebrated for their formal simplicity and use of natural light.
Cardi Gallery Milan
38, Corso di Porta Nuova
Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“Yummy Boys” Exhibition by Giampaolo Sgura
Italian photographer Giampaolo Sgura is exhibiting the images he has created for the third issue of Yummy, a zine dedicated to the male body and the art forms, especially photography, celebrating it.
Organized in partnership with Dsquared2, the exhibition will feature shots of a diverse cast of models, either as themselves or fictitious characters such as cowboys, truckers and rock stars. Sgura started shooting models in his hometown of Ostuni, in southern Italy and developed the project adding new talents — and shots — over time.
“It’s a very personal selection that follows my taste in male beauty. I want people to feel inspired, to feel excited and to dream. I would love readers to desire the men represented in my images.…I approach it with honesty and pure respect for the models. I am very comfortable, but I want to make sure that the subject is feeling at ease and confident,” he said.
The blunt pictures represent a sample of the different forms of the male body. “I am attracted to masculinity and proportion, to the sound of the male voice and the smell of a confident naked body. I cast all these different types of men because I feel personally attracted to all of them,” Sgura explained.
23, Via Ferrante Aporti on Sept. 23
From 4 to 8 p.m.
“Breath Ghosts Blind” Exhibition by Maurizio Cattelan
Ten years after his last solo show in the city, artist Maurizio Cattelan is returning to the city with a three-act exhibit at the Pirelli HangarBicocca gallery space.
Aimed at offering a reflection on the transience of life, the exhibition, running until Feb. 20, unfolds over three installations, titled “Breath,” “Ghosts” and “Blind,” respectively.
While the first one is a new site-specific marble sculpture depicting a man in a fetal position and a dog lying on the ground facing each other, “Ghosts” is a new version of the renowned work of art featuring taxidermized pigeons camouflaged in the architecture of the host building, which was already presented at the Venice Biennale art exhibition in 1997 and 2001, and also on display at the recently unveiled Bourse de Commerce, Pinault Collection museum of billionaire François Pinault.
The third act, “Blind,” is a reflection on death and was purposefully developed for the show. It draws from the deadly attack of New York’s World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, showing a black resin monolith crashed by the silhouette of an airplane, a reminder of the collective sense of loss and pain that the event triggered.
“Art deals with the same themes from the beginning of human history: creation, life, death. This is intertwined with the ambition of each artist to become eternal through their work. Each artist is confronted with the two sides of the coin: a sense of omnipotence and a sense of failure,” explained Cattelan.
2, Via Chiese until Feb. 20, 2022
Thursday to Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“Uncensored” Exhibition by Gian Paolo Barbieri
The power of the human body and its erotic undercurrent have been subjects dear to artists across centuries, from Greek-era sculptures to modern-day photography.
With his latest exhibition, Italian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri, who lensed the first Vogue Italia cover story and shot to fame thereafter via several major advertising campaigns and portraits of everyone from movie stars to supermodels, is committed to making a statement about the taboo on sexuality that has run through the history of art.
Aptly called “Uncensored,” the sensual exhibition — developed by Barbieri’s own foundation — displays the photographer’s erotic images in black and white. Male models with their sculpted bodies stand in front of Barbieri’s camera, offering the lensman a chance to explore the voyeuristic spirit and make a case about norms and rules.
Cue a naked boy in drag, wearing stockings, heels and makeup sitting on a stool, or a muscular man portrayed from behind with a python snaking down his back to reach an apple the model holds in his hand, a nod to the Adam and Eve myth.
According to the foundation, the images are a testament to Barbieri’s exploration of the human body and celebration of nature and its beauty. “All these pictures are crystal clear, statement-making and with no undercurrents.…Gian Paolo Barbieri fascinates, flabbergasts, touches the heart and soul of the beholder,” said Maurizio Rebuzzini, photography historian.
Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri
11, Via Lattanzio from Sept. 22 to 25
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.