Where to Eat in Milan in August
It’s August in Milan and the city is empty.
I think it’s fair to say about 70-80% of the stores are closed, especially over the central weeks of the month. The only people still around are a hand full of people in the essential services (like a few nurses) and tourists that didn’t know any better. (Plus my husband and I because he prefers to work in August, since there’s no traffic and this year the weather has been really mild.)
Anyways several years ago, I arrived to Milan like many tourist unprepared. At the time I was studying Italian in Florence, and was scheduled to begin my studies at a university in Milan in September. Florence at the time was hoping! Filled to the brim with massive amounts of tourists, and I’m guessing a few locals (mainly those catering to the tourists). The city was alive, so obviously why should I except any different of Milan? I mean American cities never shut down.
Boy was I wrong. The city was literally deserted.
Even the university I was scheduled to attend was closed that week. And I’m not talking American university closed, where school is out but you can still go to the administrative offices. I’m talking really closed, like all access to the building is shuttered closed. No one, I mean literally no one (not even a janitor) on site.
So I wondered around thinking what to do next, and then wondered into the only cafe open near the university.
The owner was there, and soon started up a conversation with me. What I was doing in Italy? in Milan? etc etc. They turned me onto the university website with apartments listed for rent. I started calling the listings and of course everyone was out of town. A few hours later a guy that lived in the building across the street showed up. He being a stock broker was one of the few people still working in the city.
He took me around to some of the listings on his BMW motorcycle. That night he and cafe owner took me to a party at another stockbrokers apartment.
I think I should note that this guy taking me around the city was doing a very good job of wooing me. A classically tall dark and handsome Italian man, willing to help confused American girl me.
As the stereotype goes he started tell me all sorts of nonsense that young impressionable girls like to hear. Like how beautiful I am. That he didn’t just want to date me, but wanted to MARRY ME… And me being silly impressionable American girl, I’m thinking wow this man must really be smitten. At the time I didn’t know that’s just what most Italian men do with foreign women. (Because someone how we believe the crap while abroad)
Italian women generally know better.
Anyways I ended up spending the night at this Italian’s house. In typical me fashion nothing much happened. We made out a little, and that was it. Oh and at some point during the night I started crying my eyes out because heaven forbid I go any further because as I explained to him I had just broken up with Mr. Big and I really wasn’t emotionally ready to be involved with anyone else.
Now almost 10 years later I find myself in Milan married to an Italian man that didn’t claim to want to marry me on the first date…
Here’s my list of my favorite places that will be open throughout August in Milan.
Un Posto a Milano
“Un Posto A Milano” is getting my pick as top stop where to visit for August in Milan for numerous reasons. Primarily because it is also open all of August and even on ferragosoto. For those of you that don’t know ferragosoto is a holiday celebrated on the 15th of August every year. Italians take this holiday very seriously. And to be completely honest. I don’t blame then. We all need vacation. Anyways, Un Posto a Milano is organizing a bit of a party. Starting at 6pm you’ll be able to enjoy sangria made with wine organic fruit costing just 1 euro per glass. Plus there will be clowns, games, and a selection of books for sale (some about food and others catered for kids).
Eataly Milano Smeraldo The Eataly Milano Smerlado is new to the city. It open just a few months ago. They are open for the entire month of August except on ferragosto. The various eateries ensure that you visit like every day for a week and still eat something different every time. Eataly Smerlando also has the plus of being in a fairly central part of town. The area, right around Corso Como is considered a fairly happening place to be for locals, and for tourists that venture outside the Duomo area.
SignorVino Milano This is not the first time I’ve written about this place. But I’ll do it again because it truly is one of my favorite places to eat lunch/dinner/aperitivo in Milan’s city center. The food is solid (which for me means good, but not great). SignorVino also has a great wine selection, it won’t break the bank, and you can avoid traveling across town to avoid the horrible tasting tourist traps that generally characterize the Duomo area. (I gave the same description to a couple that was visiting Milan for the first time about a month ago. Perhaps I wasn’t ranting and raving about the place enough, so they eat someplace else on Corso Vittorio Emanuale and didn’t like it much. They spent decent money and didn’t like it much. And I was like, I TOLD YOU SO!) You also get the added plus of having a fabulous view of the Duomo while you eat. And yes its open every day over August except Ferragosto.
Esselunga and Parco Sempione So you’re here in Milan, you’ve already eaten at some fabulous places, and you’re like what now. Or maybe you’re on a budget because you’ve taken the summer to travel all over Europe. What to do? Go to Esselunga (one of my favorite supermarket chains) buy some bread, prosciutto, and a bottle of wine or maybe even an Italian beer. The supermarket’s website is in Italian, but it’s pretty easy to navigate even if you don’t speak the language. This link is to the “Negozi” you can type your location, and the date (by icon that says “aperto” which means open, and it will tell you the store hours for the supermarkets open near you. All Esselunga locations will be closed on Ferragosto in Milan.
Enjoy your sandwich in your hotel room (I’m saying this cause I don’t know much about drinking laws here in Italy) or at a bench in Parco Sempione. There are very frequently events going on in and around the park and castle “Castello Sforzesco“.
Grom During the summer gelato is kind of mandatory after eating a great Italian meal. Grom is a chain of high quality gelato shops located all over Milan, Italy with even a few locations around the world. Most of their Milan stores are open all month, even on ferragosto. Click on the link for the location nearest to where ever you may be in the city. This place is also great is you have various dietary restrictions. All of their gelato is gluten free, their fruit sorbets are vegan, and most of their products are egg and soy free. See their site for more details on that.
Bonus – La Tradizionale
This place holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first restaurant I visited in Milan (oh so many years ago). It is also the first place my husband took me out to dinner. The ambiance is lovely with balls of light hanging from the ceiling. The food is also pretty decent. La Tradizionale also happens to be one of those places that are almost always open. So it’s open all August long, as well as for lunch on August 15th, ferragosto.
The pictures of the various stores/restaurants were all taken from the company’s official website. The picture of Parco Sempione is from Magnus Manske flickr account, through wikipedia’s creative commons.