This week’s Up My Street sees us get a little more familiar with one of Italy’s largest cities, the capital of Lombardy, Milan. Renowned for both fashion and design, Milan’s design district located in the south of the centre where our guide, Domus web editor Vera Sacchetti resides.
Vera was born in Lisbon, Portugal and spent the early part of her career as a graphic designer with Lisbon-based P-06 Atelier before a desire to spread her wings took her to NYC. There she studied Design Criticism at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan as a Fulbright scholar no less, before moving to Milan as web editor of architecture and design magazine Domus. On top of this, Vera is also a co-founder of NY editorial consultancy Superscript.
We caught up with her this week at the Domusweb office in Milan’s design district, Zona Tortona to find out a little more about the streets that she, for the time being at least, calls home.
The Design Library on Via Savona | Photo courtesy of Italian Design Grand Tour
In which neighbourhood do you live?
Zona Colonne, south Milan
What’s the name of your street?
Viale Col di Lana
Where to you spend most of your free time?
Actually right now I don’t have that much free time, but I think I would spend it in between Zona Tortona and Colonne, which is convenient (and also where I spend most of my non-free time)
A homeless person’s bed under the Naviglio Grande bridge | Photograph by Alec Dudson
What’s your favourite place around town?
I really like the area around the Navigli (total clichè, I know, but it’s nice if it’s not a weekend), and lately I’ve been spending quite some time around Paolo Sarpi, in the Northwest of the city — nice bars and restaurants and a really quiet area, since most public transportation doesn’t really go there.
A family of ducks near the Navigli | Photo by Alec Dudson
Who’s the most inspiring person you’ve met around your neighbourhood?
I don’t know about inspiring (I wouldn’t say Milan in general is a very inspiring city), but there are some interesting characters around: there’s Savio, who owns a cafè close to where I work, who always dresses impeccably, always has something nice to say to you, and if you’re not into choosing what to have for lunch, he’ll choose for you– and you can be sure it’s going to be insanely good. He’s the person to brighten up your day if you feel like crap, and even if you don’t — he’s pretty extraordinary.
Then there’s the owner of the Salumeria, which alongside his brother makes around 1000 sandwiches a day feeding the entire neighborhood for a pretty accessible price. He’s a total riot, and also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
And finally, there’s this old man who sits at the irish pub every day with his little chihuahua dog, having a glass of wine or a beer after lunch and staring at the girls that walk past. The dog barks at invisible things from time to time, and he just stares around. It’s pretty interesting to watch.
Brutto Anatroccolo | Photo courtesy of Nightlife Exchange
What’s your little corner of paradise around here?
Somewhere with good cocktails for sure – I’d recommend Luca & Andrea or Rita (both in the Naviglio Grande), or Juleps further down (close to Conchetta). For a surprising environment and an affordable dining experience, I’d recommend Brutto Anatroccolo– coincidentally just steps away from Juleps.
Where would you find the best Gin Tonic?
This is possibly the hardest question to answer, ever. That’s why I keep trying to find it… at the moment, quite undecided between Luca & Andrea, Capetown, and Lacerba. But I need to clarify what I mean by “gin tonic”– Hendricks, tonic, cucumber and pepper.
Which are your favoured lunch spots?
Design Library Cafè for awesome, unexpensive food, Salumeria for affordable (and salty) focaccia sandwiches, Murphy’s Law for piadinas with bresaola, caprino and rucola (best combo ever).
Drinks being served up at Lacerba | Photo courtesy of Lacerba
How seriously do the Milanese take ‘aperitivo’ and where would you recommend going for some in your area?
Oh. Drinking in this city might be the second most popular activity (after working). It is also an activity which keeps you sane, and you have unlimited food while consuming drinks at “low” price (for Milan, at least). That might be an unbeatable combination, and can lead to disastrous (but fun) results. This to say, Milanese take it very, very seriously, and try to engage in it at least three times a week.
Good aperitivo depends on the food served. Quality of the drinks is important, but remember you are also there to eat. All things considered, A couple of places have good aperitivo around the Navigli, particularly in Via Casale. In Via Savona Design Library Cafè wins– amazing food.
How would you describe the vibe of Milan?
Milan is not a particularly welcoming city. A lot of the people that live here actually hate it – or maybe it has become fashionable to say so. Milan is a grey city teeming with models, and good looking women and men. It’s a city where it’s easier to live if you have a bit of money, because everything is pretty expensive, particularly if you like partying.
That said, Milan’s OK (especially in Spring and Autumn). Despite the overarching “fighetto” vibe, there are a few nice places and a lot of nice people. I feel if you find a decent group of friends and are able to not become a workaholic, this city can actually be really nice.
Grafitti in Zona Tortona | Photo by Alec Dudson
What’s your best memory here?
I have very fond memories of all the nights that started with “just one drink” with friends and then, unexpectedly, led to hours of unbridled partying. Oh, wait, maybe “fond” isn’t the best word. But they were a lot of fun.
“Just one drink” | Photo by Vera Sacchetti
Interview by Alec Dudson