Brera is synonymous with the artistic heart of the city. As you stroll along the streets of this ancient district, you cannot help but be enchanted by its almost surreal atmosphere boasting small artisans' workshops or quaint stores selling canvases and paints.
EDITOR'S TIP Additionally, Brera is home to the impressive Accademia di Belle Arti, where visitors can admire Milan's famous painting collection at the Pinacoteca (the Brera Picture Gallery), the historic Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense (Braidense National Library), the Museo Astronomico (The Astronomical Museum), the oldest scientific research institute in the city and the Giardino Botanico (Botanical Gardens).
ART, SHOPPING AND ENTERTAINMENT To start your sightseeing tour on the right foot, we suggest stopping for a cup of coffee at Princi, not just an ordinary bakery, but a meeting point where, amidst the heady scents of “brioches” and “cappuccino”, you'll have a chance to begin your day on a high note. A reference point for antique lovers, Brera boasts numerous antique shops and art galleries. Among these, Pettinaroli, just relocated from its historic headquarters near the Duomo to no. 4 via Brera, offers a wide selection of maps and antique prints. As an aside, those interested in bargains or bric à brac should definitely make time to visit the Mercatino di antiquariato e brocantage, held on the third Sunday of each month. The array of boutiques continues with the elegant artisan footwear sold by Iliprandi or the tailor-made, Italian-style shoes by Alfonso Garlando. Other points of interest include historic luxury jewellers Manfredi, Misani's artisanal jewels for him and for her, the original accessories by Angela Caputi Giuggiù and the unique leather accessories by Giòsa Milano in via Ciovasso.
THE NEW PERFUME DISTRICT At no. 4, we find the new The Merchant of Venice boutique, an historic perfumery epitomizing the art of Venetian perfumemaking offering a luxury line encompassing a wide range of exclusive perfumes for men and women contained in elegant bottles inspired by the tradition of the city's famous hand-blown Murano glass (www.themerchantofvenice.com). Our next port of call is via Fiori Chiari, where we find the beautiful window displays of Culti Milano. Over time, in addition to concentrating on home fragrances, this original innovator of the home diffuser has extended its range to encompass a series of body care products. The brand also has a boutique at no. 53 corso Venezia (www.culti.com). Other must-visits while in the area include Campomarzio 70 (via Brera 2, www.campomarzio70.it), Olfattorio Bar-à-Parfums (via Brera 5, www.olfattorio.it), Diptyque (via Brera 23, www.diptyqueparis.eu), Profumo (via Brera 6, www.profumomilano.com), the new Amouage boutique (via Fiori Chiari 7, www.amouage.com), Dr.Vranjes (via Fiori Chiari 24, http://drvranjes.it), Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (via Madonnina , www.smnovella.com), Creed (via Madonnina 17, http://creed. cale.it), 9Nine (via Ponte Vetero 22, www.beautysanspa.com) and Fragonard (via Solferino 2, www.fragonard.com).
TASTING SUGGESTIONS Between visiting one shop and another, you might be surprised to suddenly discover that it's time for lunch. Try the typical Parma-based charcuterie specialities at Parma & Co, where you can also enjoy a Sunday brunch or the famed sandwiches sold by Panino Giusto. The afternoon is likely to pass by in a flash until you suddenly realize that it's aperitivo time: there's no doubt that you'll be captivated by the purely Art Déco-style atmosphere of El Tombon de San Marc, the trendier atmosphere of Fashion Café in via San Marco or, for a different taste, the new Hong Kong Crossover restaurant in via Ciovasso offering the sought-after flavours of the Orient; another option is Ristorante Daniel offering contemporary Italian cuisine and the chance to enjoy something new from day to day.