Antonio Citterio’s perfect weekend in Milan

The architect and industrial designer explores the city’s paintings, porticos and botanical gardens and Brera backstreets

Antonio Citterio in the grounds of the Triennale, Milan
Antonio Citterio in the grounds of the Triennale, Milan | Image: Stefan Giffthaler

“Saturday mornings start at my local newsstand, Reno Giornalaio, at the end of Via Brera. I love the ritual of walking and getting the papers – everything from Corriere della Sera to the FT and The New York Times for my wife [American architect and interior designer, Terry Dwan] – and then settling into one of the local bars, Caffè Fernanda, inside the Pinacoteca di Brera, for coffee and brioche. The sense of community in these places is wonderful, but I also like that there’s no pressure to talk to anyone.

After a long while spent reading, I might go to any number of galleries and museums. I’m an art collector, and I find inspiration at places such as Gallery Massimo di Carlo; it’s a fantastically inspiring space by Piero Portaluppi who also designed the famous Villa Necchi. I’m drawn to the Palazzo Reale, especially during Salone del Mobile, and the Brera Museum, which has one of the best collections of Italian Renaissance paintings and an exemplary Lombard baroque courtyard – its portico has an unrivalled collection of full-size casts of monumental classical sculptures, and real 19th-century marble sculptures.

I’m a member of the advisory committee of the Museo del Design Italiano on the ground floor of the Triennale. The centre has constantly changing architecture exhibitions – our practice has designed installations here – and is a source not only of inspiration but also debate. There’s also a nice design café, where I’ll sit outside and have seabass carpaccio and salad for lunch. 

The Triennale has constantly changing architecture exhibitions and a design café
The Triennale has constantly changing architecture exhibitions and a design café | Image: Stefan Giffthaler

People come to Milan for the creative energy, the food and the fashion – and there is no better time to watch this all unfold than at the weekends. I’m not a trendy guy, but I am also not above taking a touristy stroll past La Scala, through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and on to the Duomo, before heading to quieter stretches such as Via Mozza and Via della Passione, which have a truly Milanese spirit. 

Quadrilatero – or the Golden Triangle – is lovely, too, for window shopping. The thing that most sparks my curiosity is the constant change of storefronts and tenants, a never-ending cycle of activity bringing new brands and installations. I walk through this area at the end of every work day, so sometimes at the weekend I prefer to explore the calmer neighbourhood streets. There is so much to explore near my house in Brera, including one of the city’s most beautiful churches, the neo-gothic Santa Maria del Carmine, with its terracotta façade. And the nearby Botanical Garden is one of my favourite escapes. After a period of neglect, this place, which was created at the behest of Maria Theresa of Austria, has now been restored. Today, passing through an area of monumental buildings, you suddenly enter a peaceful oasis full of nature and history.

The highlight of any day is aperitivo and I always go to the bar at the Bulgari Hotel Milano. They make me a special margarita il solito just the way I like it, with reposado [aged in oak barrels] tequila, and Niko Romito’s finger food is excellent. I might meet a friend here to discuss art and design and I feel it’s an important, enjoyable conclusion to the day, but one drink is always enough. 

Advertisement

I’ll meet Terry for dinner at Torre di Pisa, a classic place that was once a favourite with Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis group, as well as fashion designers and journalists. It still feels very ’60s and the simple dishes of spaghetti alla puttanesca and ribollita go well with a glass of Tuscan red. They make a special insalata mista for Terry: I like it when a restaurant feels like your own private kitchen.

Sunday mornings start with a walk in Sempione Park and on to the Castello Sforza – I enjoy the wide-open spaces. For lunch, we might go to L’Arabesque, a design store with a café that serves excellent risottos and grilled fish, or to the Mudec Museum, a contemporary art collection that does a nice Sunday brunch. On the rare Sunday night that we don’t eat at home, we’ll go to Langosteria, which has the best seafood tartares, or maybe to Nobu, near our house. I like the cleanliness and fresh taste of Japanese food, and it can be a nice change at the end of a weekend with a typically Milanese flavour.”

Advertisement

See also

Advertisement
Loading