spotlight series. susanna brambillaChiara faloppa andpaolo passoni]

[Milano soundtrack. Volare (but, of course!)]

Our love affair with the North of Italy began at the age of 18, when a strapping, young Italian boy from Milan, named Diego, came and lived with our family in Melbourne for a few months. Quickly becoming our Italian “brother”, we have since spent the next 17 years going back and forth between our hometowns.

Perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing and romantic as say Florence, or Venice…and with fewer secrets to uncover than in Rome…what Milan lacks in history and beauty, she makes up for in wealth and style. We love Italy’s largest city for the smell of jasmine in the air, the beautiful green spaces, the Milanese food and way of life, her style, the aperitivo, the coffee, the shopping, and the close proximity to the lakes region, and the coast. Oh and the Duomo – how could we forget Europe’s third largest church (after St. Peter’s Basillica in Rome, and Seville’s cathedral) – this Gothic beauty dominates the great piazza, and is a feast for the senses.

La Dolce Vita.

For coffee and breakfast…

Al Buon Convento Bistrot Caffetteria: this cute little spot was located at the bottom of our apartment building. Great coffee and delicious pastries. We also found another great local spot two doors down from Al Buon Convento (walking away from the Duomo) as well.

Gattullo: this is our favorite place in the city. Gattullo has been a Milanese institution since 1961. Come to this incredibly beautiful corner pasticceria for excellent coffee, delicious pastries and incredible old-school decor. Check out the staff uniforms. Supremo. Great sandwiches as well.

Marotin: we love this super cute and colorful corner bakery. Great croissants to-go.

Giacomo Pasticceria: in the same area as Marotin, another excellent option for a breakfast croissant on-the-run.

Bastianello (near our favorite shoe store): for great coffee and breakfast.

Pandenus: a few locations around town. Good coffee and cakes.

Sant'Ambroeus: it has been in the heart of the Milan Fashion District forever: a real classic, anytime of day.

Pavé: very popular at the moment. Desserts are amazing. Brunch is good too.

Sissi: for croissants.

For brunch…

Radetzky: it's been the bohémienne Milanese circle's meeting point forever. Always packed at aperitivo time. A beautiful spot for a late lunch on sunny Sundays.

Al Fresco: for brunch, lunch or dinner in a beautiful outdoor courtyard.

California Bakery: there are a few of these in town. A chain, yes, but great for an easy lunch – we like to grab a picnic basket from the Sant'Eustorgio one and take it to a park on a sunny Spring afternoon.

Ceresio 7: owned and designed by the twins from DSquared - on a rooftop with a pool, in the building of their DSquared HQ.

For lunch….

Baretto: a classic. Perfect for a lunch break on a shopping day

Al Mercato: for a break from pasta and pizza…come here for great burgers!

Eately: this amazing food and beverage company was founded in Turin, Italy, but has made waves in a whole host of other countries. We have been regular visitors at the NYC outpost…and were blown away by this, eately smeraldo – their most impressive retail showcase – located here in Milan. Located at the teatro smeraldo, this is a gourmet paradise. Come here and grab lunch to-go…or check out the in-house library for amazing cook books, or even try a cooking class. It’s all here, and it’s amazing.

Excelsior food court: another great spot for lunch to-go…this beautiful food haven, in the basement of the Excelsior, is worth checking out even if you are not hungry. Super impressive.

Il Salumaio: come here for the amazing courtyard.

Paper Moon: a traditional restaurant in the heart of the Fashion District. Nice pizza. Also try the beef with artichokes.

Martini Bar: located within Dolce&Gabbana’s men’s boutique. A nice verandah and great (people-watching) crowd. Perfect for a casual (Milan-style) lunch.

Refeel (Porta Romana area): also nice for aperitivo and breakfast

For the best gelato in town…Gelateria della Musica. Second best, try Rivareno.

Great for an afternoon break: Biancolatte. Come to this gorgeous spot for coffee or gelato.

10 Corso Como: always beautiful on any afternoon. Great for afternoon tea in the magnificent courtyard.

For dinner…

The Small: our favorite dinner spot at the moment. A cute, colorful and kitsch bistrot. The owner Alessandro is unbelievably friendly and hospitable and will ensure you have an amazing night. More a “home”, than a restaurant. Great food. Grab a table outside.

U Barba: we love this spot. Located as part of a bocce ball court that is still operating. Serving amazing food from Liguria. Grab a table out the back, and play a few rounds of bocce throughout your meal.

Petit Bistro: always busy, grab a table outside and enjoy the people watching (and good food).

Head to Navigli for lots of cute bars and restaurants dotting the canals…. a few favorites:

Pont de Ferr: for something more high-end. Influenced by Ferran Adrià, among others, chef Matias Perdomo is a friendly Argentinian who favors molecular gastronomy. This kind of cooking can be a little fancy for our tastes these days, but this one Michelin restaurant offers a beautiful experience and gorgeous setting along the canals of Navigli.

Rebelot: for great tapas and sangria, and good vibes.

Erba Brusca: for a beautiful farm-to-table dining experience. Come here and grab a table on the beautiful garden terrace, surrounded by their veggie patch, and enjoy delicious Italian favorites.

Temakinho (there are two in town – one in Navigli, and one in Brera): Japanese/Brazilian fusion. Come here for an awesome combo of Japanese temaki + caipirinhas! Great cozy atmosphere.

Finger's and Finger's garden (weird name!): but more great Japanese/Brazilian fusion, an amazing location and amazing service. Finger's Garden offers a beautiful Japanese garden for Summer time.

Yuzu: a tiny spot, offering some of the best sushi in town.

Giacomo Bistrot: this great bistrot is loved by the Fashion industry. Giacomo all’Arengario: located right on Piazza Duomo, next to Museo del Novecento, has a unique and stunning view over the Duomo. Same chef as Giacomo, but super chic and elegant. Not to be missed.

Osteria del Corso: for soccer player and showgirls spotting. Traditional Italian food. The Sicilian owner, Mimmo, is a Milanese classic.

Mimmo Dondup: same owner as Osteria del Corso. Great for lunch as well.

Porteno: very cool Argentinean restaurant.

La Briciola: a Milanese classic – best cotoletta and meatballs. Located in Brera area. Also check out “Il Giallo”: same owner, same area and same food, though slightly more casual and open till late at night.

To drink…

For apertivi (our favorite time of day!).... you can find a great little bar on every corner, sometimes the more low-key the better, but here are a few we also recommend:

Straf (next to Rinascente): cool crowd and music. Everybody stands out on the street, pretty casual.

Hotel Bulgari: always very chic. Love the garden in Summer time, a beautiful oasis under the trees in the heart of Milan.

Bar Rinascente: come here for the amazing views of the Duomo, if nothing else. A great rooftop.

Diana Majestic: grab a table in the beautiful garden.

N'Ombra de Vin (Brera): nice enoteca. A favorite among the banker/lawyer crowd.

Bodega del Tasca: according to our local friends, this is popular with the Milanese bohemian and wealthy crowd.

Rita (Navigli): best cocktails in town, fun after dinner as well.

For after dinner drinks…

Bar Principe di Savoia: this is the place to be during Fashion Week…but ONLY during Fashion Week. Rest of the year is not recommended.

Frank: (Porta Venezia area).

To shop…

The Excelsior: our new favorite department store, reminiscent of Colette, Merci etc. This luxury hub opened its doors three years ago, taking over a former movie theatre along the Galleria del Corso. Amazing luxe brands – cosmetics, apparel, shoes, accessories. All brands sourced by Antonia Giacinti – the talented buyer behind renowned Milanese boutique, Antonia. An amazing food court downstairs as well.

Antonia (Brera): do it.

Marni outlet: our favorite of all the Italian designers, this hidden-away outlet store (at the bottom of a residential building in the middle of a non-descript neighborhood), is an essential stop on any visit to Milan.

If you are an outlet-shopper, check out: D-Magazine; and Il Salvagente.

For shoes: La Vetrina di Beryl.

For everything, including a coffee break in the gorgeous courtyard, check out 10 Corso Como.

Others… Gio Moretti (Via Sant’Andrea); Banner (Via Sant'Andrea); Biffi (Corso Genova): and by the same owner of Banner, Antonioli (Navigli): best selection of Givenchy, Rick Owens etc; Profumeria Mazzolari: any beauty or hair products you need can be found here.

To do… 

A day trip to Lago di Como (A MUST): for apertivo at Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, followed by lunch atTrattoria del Glicine. This is quite possibly the most beautiful place we have ever laid eyes on in our life. Spend the day (or lots of days) cruising the lakes…by car, by foot, by boat…or all of the above. Heaven on earth.

Teatro alla Scala: come and experience a show at this, Italy and Milan’s world renowned, Opera House.

Visit the Naviglio antique markets that take place once a month; also check out the Saturday markets in the old streets of Brera.  

For Spa and Beauty…Violette: for the most chic manicure in town. A Vogue favorite. The Studio by Davide Diodovich: amazing peaceful hair salon. Best colorist in town. A fashion industry favorite. Hotel Bulgari, if you want to splurge on a spa treatment. Hotel Armani, for another amazing spa experience (on the rooftop).

To note…

Malpensa Airport is a long way from the center of town (a cab will cost 90euro). Much better to jump on the train, super easy.

City bikes easy to use, and a great way to get around town.

Aperitivi (6-10pm) is crucial to the Milanese day: be sure to embrace this daily routine, Campari and bar snacks. The best.

Coffee etiquette: caffè/espresso is a single shot, doppio is a double shot, Americano is a long black. And if you request milk in your coffee after lunchtime, you will get some strange looks. Cappuccinos and lattes are only for breakfast!

Almalfi Coast

[spotlight series. Carla Celentano and Raffaele Mandara]

[Amalfi Coast soundtrack. Sinnerman]

“Positano bites deep…it is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” — John Steinbeck.

This glittering chunk of the southern Italian coast stole our heart back in 2000, when we first visited as young backpackers. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and totally fell under its spell. So much so, Positano ended up playing home for a couple of months that summer (while we romanced local boys and rode around the cliffs, barefoot and free, on the back of scooters). We were 21. Not a care in the world. We had one local friend (our Positano insider, Raffaele Mandara) who we had met in Melbourne earlier that year, who took us under his wing. Positano born and bred, Raf introduced us to his town - his family, his friends, their way of life. The rest is history. We have flirted with the magic of the Amalfi Coast for 15 years now. It is also the place we met one of our best friends, our Toronto insider - Amanda Blakely - a Canadian backpacker, also bopping around Italy as a 21 year old. We met on the street, as a local friend was recruiting cute girls to come to his birthday party that night! It is home to countless special memories. Last summer, we were back there again - firstly with Amanda and some other Canadian friends; and then with family. The first time my two sisters and i had been there all together at the same time. Positano is nothing short of breathtaking. We love the trellised walkways covered in vines and lavender flowers, the colored buildings jutting out of the jagged cliffs, the countless stairs (a serious workout), the hot blazing sun, the crazy views, the sight of lemons - everywhere - and limoncello, the smell of wood-fired pizza, the striped sun lounges, the sparkling blue waters of the mediterranean, the hidden coves and private beaches, Da Adolfo (one of our favorite places on the planet), and just the Italian way. The food. The Spritz’s. The music. The feeling of old-world romance. Its our everything. We have kept our recommendations to just a few, but hope it will guide you on your way on your next visit to this magical part of the world.




To eat.


Da Adolfo: our number one. See below.

Il Capitano: for dinner (go early, around 8ish, for the best sunset skies). Book a table on the edge of the terrace. Its heaven. Start with Campari, and then try the tuna tartare (wow). You cant go wrong with any of the pastas, as well. 

Delicatessen: when you want a low-key lunch, grab homemade sandwiches to-go from the deli in the centre of town (up the stairs) - out of control goodness - big ciabatta rolls, ham, buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil, all lathered in a big dollop of olive oil. There is also another great deli opposite Hotel Poseiden on the main street into town.

Buco di bacco: this spot is always good for pizza and gelato (any time of day), but for dinner, go up to the very top floor. Not many people know about this spot, as it is generally reserved for hotel guests. Quiet, private, and spectacular views over the beach - more heaven. The food is excellent.

Casa e Bottega: this charming little cafe is a welcome addition to the Positano food scene. When you need a break from your daily pasta/pizza routine, come here for fruit salad, smoothies, healthy sandwiches and salads. Finish with a (not-so healthy) freshly baked dessert. All so good.

Case Mele: for something more fancy. Raf is an expert chef who has been cooking up a storm in Positano for over 20 years. His new space (summer 2014) is super modern, and a big departure from the traditional Positano-style restaurant aesthetic. He has an open kitchen, where he also hosts cooking courses. Try the raw fish plate, or any of his pastas. Raf is also a dessert whiz, so definitely try his trio of chocolate mousse, and the semi freddo. Tell him we sent you! Our Positano insider is quite the character.

Valle dei mulini: Raf’s original family restaurant. Good for pizza in a nice courtyard garden setting. You will often find live music. It can be found just down the road from Parcheggio Mandara (the garage). 


To drink


Bar Buca di Bacco: for coffee.

Cafe Positano: a great spot for aperitivo. Beautiful views. The food is good as well.

Le Sierunse: our favorite spot for something fancy. Stunning views from their pretty terrace, and some fancy people watching too.

Music on the Rocks: Positano’s one and only nightclub. This is a must.


To do

A day trip to Da Adolfo. This is also a must. Come here once, twice or as many times as you can. Our best recommendation for Positano. A super laidback seafood shack on a private beach (Laurito) a few beaches south of Positano. Jump on the little wooden boat (with the red fish on its mast) from the jetty on the main beach. It generally runs between 11-1pm each day. Spend the day eating mussels, drinking Campari, and sun baking on the rocks. Also try One Fire Beach in Praino - for the same kinda deal.

Hike/walk. Try ‘The Path of the Gods’: a simple walk, from Positano to Bomerano , with spectacular and awe-inspiring scenery all the way.

Day trip to Ravello (see below).

Day trip to Capri (see below).

Shop: at Lo Scrigno di Brunella for all kinds of linen. Locally produced, unique designs.


To sleep


Residence La Tavolozza: our favorite place to stay while in Positano. We stumbled across this cute Bnb by mistake last summer. It is just the best. Basic and simple, and affordably priced. A great location (right next to Le Sirenuse). Breakfast is not included (but the delicatessen is just down the road) and our bathroom was just across the hallway from our room (but it was exclusively ours) - but some of the ones have private ensuite bathrooms, if you would prefer. We paid 95 euro per night (summer 2014), which is an absolute steal for Positano. Its literally smack bang next to La Sirenuse which is prob the most exclusive hotel in town, where rooms go for 800+ euro per night.

Villa Maria Antoinetta: if you cant get in to the Residence La Tavolozza, another good one (at the same kind of level) is Villa Maria Antoinetta. Run by a super cute brother and sister - Giuseppe and Carla - its also right in the centre, and they serve a great breakfast each day on the terraCe. 

La Casa di Peppe: this beautiful guest house and villa is one of the oldest places in Positano. In a beautiful location, a little bit out of town, the private oasis is surrounded by a lush botanical garden surrounded by bougainvillea trees, hibiscus flowers, banana plants and tropical palm trees. La Casa Di Peppe is nice and secluded, offering a very private getaway.

Le Sirenuse: a luxury Positano institution, with a swimming pool and Michelin-starred restaurant. Only 10mins walk downhill to the main beach, this is a beautiful (high-end) place to stay. Gorgeous details throughout including handpainted Italian floortiles, an incredible line of fragrances made just for the hotel, beautiful linens on the beds, turndown service with chocolates, and a thoughtful handwritten nightly weather report, and a delicious breakfast each morning, served on the terrace.



We generally spend most of our time in Positano, so we only have a few recommendations for nearby Sorrento…but we can happily suggest the following things:

To do

Gelato. On repeat. And we can recommend Primavera. There will most certainly be a wait, but don't let that deter you. They offer over 30 flavors, and they are all life-changing. Make this a must-do while in Sorrento.

Book a boat trip with Sorrento Experience. Old-school Italian wooden boats (think George Clooney), this lovely family business (run by our Amalfi Coast insider, Carla Celentano) has been in the boating game for years, and know all the best places to take you. We used them for a trip from Sorrento to Capri, and were not disappointed. Highly recommend.

To sleep

Villa Serena: one of many beautiful properties listed through the Inspirato Collection, this large and luxury home - perched high on a hill just outside Sorrento - has views of the Med from every room. Perfect for a group, the property sits among a manicured garden, and is surrounded by a beautiful pool.

La Minervetta: a spectacular boutique hotel (originally a restaurant built in the 50s), sitting on the seacliff overlooking the Marina Grande. This breathtaking spot offers only 12 Mediterranean-style rooms and is a beautiful, modern, design sleeping option.


We only had one day in Capri, and were lucky enough to be accompanied there by the Sorrento Experience. We can recommend these things while on the island..

To do

La Fontellina: book ahead to spend a day at this beach club. Its lunch only, and reservations are a must. Our favorite beach club on the island.

Da Luigi ai Faraglioni: if La Fontellina is full, this is your next best option. Lunch (lemon risotto) and lounging on the rocks. Book in advance. An amazing spot to set up shop for the day. 

Al Piccolo Bar: for aperitivo (and amazing people watching in the Piazzetta). Grab a front row seat. 

Buonocore Gelateria: for the best gelato in town, served in house-made waffle bowls. Join the queue! Their pistachio cookings are amazing, as well.

100% Capri: for linen everything. Caftans, sheets, homewares, and more. 

To sleep

La Minerva: a beautiful 18-room hotel, located on a quiet street just minutes from the main shopping streets of Via Camerelle and Via Tragara, overlooking the beach of Faraglioni.


A day trip here is essential. If its in the budget, you will not regret (or easily forget) lunch at Hotel Caruso.

To do

Hotel Caruso: lunch here, beside the spectacular infinity pool, looking down on to the mediterranean is an incredible treat. The comprehensive menu offers a perfect example of southern Italian cuisine. Order seafood. Or pasta. Or anything. And start with Bellinis. This is an amazing eating experience.

Ravello Festival: if the timing works, be sure to check out one of the outdoor concerts, as part of the Ravello Festival. The tiny village welcomes all sorts of musicians - big or small names - who perform on a stage jutting out over the sea. 

Hike/walk: There is a great 2+ hour walk that will lead you from Ravello to Atrani. Its steep in parts, but wonderful. 


There is really no urgent need to spend any time in Naples, but if you do happen to have some time to kill (like we did before our train back to Rome), head to Pizzeria Pellone for some of the best (sloppy) pizza you will ever eat. A quick 5min walk from the train station (it is worth lugging your bags here - trust me), this pizza will stay in your mind forever. A Capricossa so saucy and cheesy and sloppy. The menu is Italian, and there will be a massive queue out the door, but do whatever it takes. You should not miss this.


Perisco Car Service: to get you from Naples along the coast (less hairy than the public buses). Friendly and efficient. They will sort you out with whatever you need, transport-wise.