(What I see) Getting around Milan

Walking in Milan and getting around doesn’t give me the perception of a city re-born after a 7-years long economic depression. I still see shops closing in areas where it was unthinkable to shut down until a few years ago (BAires). Shops in the centre are half-empty during once busy weekends. Food stores relentlessly lower prices, and it’s not uncommon to see food-related billboards and adverts in town promoting best prices ever. I no longer have to reserve a table at restaurants in most of the once busiest districts – Tortona, Garibaldi, Ticinese. The Milanese movida seems to be definitely over.

Media write about the end of the Italian economic recession. The benefits of the coming EXPO are on the mouth of all (optimistic?) friends I’m talking to. Eataly and few other bold entrepreneurs still invest here; and the openings gain pages and pages on local press. Which I voraciously read, hoping to find real signs of change.

Nevertheless, this is not what my eyes see when I spend some time in town. Milan’s life is not even comparable with towns I am used to visit. London. Dubai. New York the last. It never was. But the gap seems unbridgeable today. It’s like the once economic capital of Bel Paese is slowly descending into Dante’s inferno.

And while I am writing these notes, I just hope to be wrong and to be the only one in town not recognising the so bright signs of a new rise. Because I love this city. I love it so much.

Eataly Smeraldo

Eataly Milan Smeraldo (@EatalySmeraldo) is ready to open its doors next week. Not the first, but the largest store in Italy. Manhattan style, if not better.

Smeraldo was an historical theatre, in town. The venue brings memories and it’s plenty of history for the Milanees. Following its history, the super-store’s themes will be music and food. Eataly opens in the most buzzy district in town, Garibaldi/Porta Nuova.

Latest updates: from Eataly site, from Corriere newspaper site, Scattidigusto press opening, Nicola Farinetti’s tweets (@NicolaFarinetti – the owner), Where Milan (english).

Places in New York

Just a short post to remember a couple of sites visited last week.

Eataly (@Eataly) is a great place to visit. It’s a piece of Italy (large piece: 50,000 sqm) in Manhattan, in the hearth of the Flatiron district. I found here most of the products I see on the shelves of food stores in Milan. With some interesting additions (“Lidia’s marinara” sauce and a series of pseudo-Italian brands not well recognized). I am expecting the new store in Milan (@EatalySmeraldo) replicating the same model.

Sarge’s (@SargesDeli) is a deli. A special deli. House of the best cheesecake in town (which is a challenging statement, considering how good is cheesecake everywhere in NYC). Lonely Planet NYC’s guide comments that “…you should leave space for the pornographically good strawberry cheesecake…“. Once in Sarge’s you can replicate Man vs. Food’s experiences, trying to beat the Monster (the largest sandwich in town).

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The Blue Note in NYC (@BlueNoteNYC) is the father of all Blue Notes jazz clubs around the world, including the one in Milan (@BlueNoteMilano). Great place for food and live Jazz. Well, mostly for live Jazz. Small venue, less than one third of the club in Milan, you need to reserve in advance and show up at least 30 mins in advance – otherwise you will lose your reservation (as we did).