henry_the_podiumist_Milan one of the beautiful cities in the land - Illustration Stephane Manel
Milan one of the beautiful cities in the land - Illustration Stephane Manel

How to spend the weekend during the Monza Grand Prix?

Monza. Three consonants, two vowels, eleven bends, four straits at over 335 km/hr and a city… Milan. It’s an often -overlooked fact that the Italian Grand Prix circuit is right by one of the beautiful  cities in the land. Follow the guide: the Podiumist has concocted a splendid programme.

You arrive on Saturday morning in Milan and, surprise surprise, you had completely forgotten that a city in summer could be so glorious. The clothes you’ve put on are too heavy, and you are in no mood to feel like a misfit in the fashion capital of the world. The answer is obvious, head for the Quadrilatero della moda a microcosm of everything the city has to offer in terms of boutiques and designers. Situated in the very heart of Milan, this little gem of elegance and refinement nestles between four main thoroughfares: via Montenapoleone (ranked among the world’s 15 most fashionable streets), la via Manzoni, la via della Spiga, and the Corso Venezia.

henry_the_podiumist_Quadrilatero della moda : Via Sant'Andrea / Via della Spiga, Milan. ©2013 Google Streetview
Quadrilatero della moda : Via Sant'Andrea / Via della Spiga, Milan. ©2013 Google Streetview

And while you’re in Montenapoleone, stop off at no. 8 for a cappuccino and a pastry at Cova, an institution founded in 1817 and mentioned by, amongst others, Hemingway in The Fifth Column and Forty-nine Stories. Handily, the coffee house is just a hop from the Duomo, a genuine symbol of the city. On a clear day, climb to the top of the cathedral, the world’s third largest church, and enjoy the view of the Alps, they are not as far away as you might have thought. As you leave the cathedral, cross the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, admire la Scala, head down via Giuseppe Verdi, turn left into via Monte di Pietà, and keep going until it turns into via Cusani. At No. 1 is Da Claudio, “Fishmonger to the Milanese”. “It really is a place to see because it’s typical of the city,” says Ludovico, a young Milanese artist. It’s an ideal place for lunchtime refreshments. “And ideally situated for a stroll through the streets of the Brera district, or taking time out in the art galleries,” adds Ludovico. The via Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is particularly beautiful. But above all, the thing to do in Milan is to follow your nose, to wander aimlessly and drink in the splendid façades.

And after a day’s strolling, nothing beats an excellent aperitivo. The perfect spot is the Il Gattopardo café, on via Piero della Francesca, 47, a stone’s throw from Corso Sempione. Stefania Conforti explains: “The café is located in a former church built at the turn of the twentieth century, and the place has lost none of its charm.” A favourite with the city’s captains of industry, the place boasts a vast collection of whiskies and  champagnes, best sipped “among the marble columns”.

henry_the_podiumist_Il Gattopardo café
Il Gattopardo café

Feeling peckish? Head back up Corso Sempione towards the park of the same name. The restaurant Just Cavalli is just what you need. “Located just below the Tour Branca, in the prestigious Parc Sempione, beside the Sforza chateau, in a fortress built in the 15th century,” in the words of Davide Guglielmini, the eatery’s press secretary. In other words, the perfect blend of history, luxury and tradition. Davide goes on: “Our menu changes every three months according to the season, but the overall policy remains the same: to serve classic Italian cuisine using only the finest ingredients.” Here’s our tip all the same: the platter of grilled shellfish, with langoustines, lobster, prawns and scallops.

henry_the_podiumist_Just Cavalli
Just Cavalli

And carnivores won’t feel left out either, particularly with the Chianina steak, the breed of cow whose meat is so tender – among the finest in Italy. But when it comes to an accompanying drink, Davide is adamant: “Champagne-based cocktails, with mixed fruits and celery.” Once the tables are cleared, Just Cavalli also turns into a club. It’s just a hop from the table to the dance floor. And to come gently back down to earth, the Sheraton Diana Majestic, a stone’s throw from the prestigious Porta Venezia, will guarantee you all the comfort you need to be on top form the following morning.

henry_the_podiumist_Dinner at the Sheraton Diana Majestic
Dinner at the Sheraton Diana Majestic
henry_the_podiumist_Inside the Sheraton Diana Majestic
Inside the Sheraton Diana Majestic

On Sunday, before heading to the Grand Prix, why not amble through the Navigli district. The two canals are lined with typical little streets and when it comes to  eating brunch, you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you prefer to get away from it all in a former 18th century farm, head instead to Cascina Cuccagna, near Porta Romana. Simple cuisine, with local, seasonal produce. Spend time in this haven of peace and quiet, a throwback to another era, before heading to the G.H.MUMM Paddock Lounge. Put your sunglasses on, sit back and enjoy watching the drivers vie for glory, a perfectly chilled champagne in your hand.

henry_the_podiumist_@Monza G.H.MUMM Paddock Club
@Monza G.H.MUMM Paddock Club


Just Cavalli 
Via Luigi Camoens c/o Torre Branca
20121 Milano
Tel: +39 02 311 817
Mobile: +39 347 331 6095

Gattopardo Café
Via Piero della Francesca, 47
20154 Milano, Italie
+39 02 3453 7699

Hôtel Sheraton Diana Majestic 
Viale Piave, 42
20129 Milano
+39 02 20581