I’ve spent a serious amount of time in Milan over the last 20 years (I lived there for seven of them and, although I’m now based in London, I spent more than 30 days in the Italian city last year). As a result, I’m often asked for recommendations, especially in the run-up to Salone del Mobile.

So here are my top tips (addresses below), some new, some stalwarts, but all with the picked-by-Nicky seal of approval. Firstly, for a great meal – traditional, straightforward Italian with no unnecessary flourishes – I always head to Bice, Torre di Pisa, A Santa Lucia or Paper Moon; and if I fancy eating on a terrace outside, then it’s Il Salumaio, Dal Bolognese or Dehors at the Park Hyatt. It really pays to book these places, so ask your concierge.

Illustration of a phone showing Taxi cab apps for Salone del Mobile 2018

Your fare to the fair: Italian taxis are now obliged by law to take card payments (including Amex), but some drivers hide their card machines. So if you get asked for cash in Milan, just say no. Illustration: Danae Diaz

If you can’t get to a restaurant by 2.30pm, you are unlikely to get served lunch, so try a café such as Sant Ambroeus, Cova and all three branches of Marchesi, which now serve meals late into the afternoon. Chef Carlo Cracco has just moved to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, where his team serves simple dishes – pizza, pasta, risotto and cotoletta alla milanese – on Richard Ginori 1735 porcelain in the ground-floor café until 10.30pm. Upstairs is Cracco’s gourmet restaurant, featuring 13-course tasting menus. It’s a far cry from the kind of simple Italian cuisine I prefer, but ordering à la carte in one of the two private dining rooms is tempting, especially the one with views over the building’s central octagon.

For shopping, check out Antonia, the Vincenzo De Cotiis-designed men’s and women’s store of local tastemaker Antonia Giacinti. Shoemaking scion Gianvito Rossi has just opened his first men’s boutique, designed by Patricia Urquiola, next to the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi. Visit the Marni store to see what new creative director Francesco Risso has been up to, and shop for design at the brand’s Viale Umbria 42 space during the furniture fair. In Brera, visit the Michele de Lucchi-designed Bottega Ghianda store to pick up a piece by Gae Aulenti or Mario Bellini, crafted by the late master woodworker Pierluigi Ghianda.

An illustration of a Prada banana yoga mat launching at Salone del Mobile 2018

Most wanted from Milan: I am bananas for this yoga mat by Prada, which comes in either hibiscus print or the brand’s 2011 banana print, recently revisited for A/W18. €350, available from Prada. Illustration: Danae Diaz

OMA has just completed the last stage of the Fondazione Prada project, a nine-storey concrete tower that adds 2,000 sq m of gallery space, plus a rooftop bar with city views. While there, remember that Bar Luce (designed by film director Wes Anderson) has the best sandwiches in the city.

As to what to see during the fair, read our preview, check Wallpaper.com for up-to-date listings and a map, and follow @wallpapermag and @nickvinson on Instagram. We promise to lead you to the best bits without recourse to the useless official guide.

Restaurants
Bice, via Borgospesso 12
Torre di Pisa, via Fiori Chiari 21
A Santa Lucia, via San Pietro all’Orto 3
Paper Moon, via Bagutta 1
Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone, via Santo Spirito 10
Dal Bolognese, via Amedei 8
Dehors, Park Hyatt Milan, via Tommaso Grossi 1
Cracco, Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II

Cafés
Sant Ambroeus, Corso Matteotti 7
Pasticceria Cova, via Montenapoleone 8
Marchesi, via Santa Maria alla Porta 11/a; Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II; and via Montenapoleone 9
Bar Luce, Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 2

Boutiques
Antonia, via Cusani 5
Gianvito Rossi, via Santo Spirito 7
Marni, via Montenapoleone 12
Bottega Ghianda, via Formentini 9

As originally featured in the May 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*230)