The year 2017 marks the centenary of the death of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. This is why you’ll hear a lot about him, should you visit France this year.
If you’re staying in our apartments in Paris, here’s a suggestion on how you could spend a day with Rodin and learn many things about this great artist.
A centenary exhibition has been organised at the Grand Palais (3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower) until July 31st. It is a huge success, and in order to avoid queuing up for hours, you can book your ticket here. It is also a good idea to choose an audio-guide. Since many people are expected to visit this excellent exhibition, I would recommend heading there in the morning. Besides learning more about Rodin and his art, you will find information on the history behind many of his works as well as his influence on other artists.
You may have heard of the sculptress Camille Claudel. This amazing woman met Rodin in 1882. He was 42, she was 18. Together with other young female artists, she was practicing her art under the direction of sculptor Alfred Boucher. As Boucher was going to be in Rome for several months, he asked Rodin to replace him. Soon, Rodin noticed how talented Camille was. In 1884, she started working for him. Eventually, the two artists became passionate lovers and rivals.
The exhibition will enable you to compare what Rodin and Camille Claudel made of the same model, an elderly lady. Rodin saw her as “Celle qui fût la belle Heaulmière”, named after a poem on lost youth and beauty. More originally, Camille Claudel created “Clotho”, a strange statue representing the youngest of the Three Fates in Greek mythology, who decide human destiny.
You will also be able to admire a mask of Camille Claudel, assembled with a reproduction of a hand of Pierre de Wissant. This mask highlights the simple beauty and frailty of Camille as a young woman.
To continue your day with Rodin, you could spend the afternoon at Musée Rodin(77 rue de Varenne). The museum is in a mansion known as Hôtel Biron, and surrounded by a large and pleasant garden, right in the middle of Paris.
You can enhance your visit of the museum and of the garden with an excellent audio-guide. It will give you additional information on Rodin’s masterpieces. One room of the museum is dedicated to Camille Claudel. There, the outstanding originality and talent of this artist is made obvious.
However, the end of Camille’s life was tragic. After years of passionate love, Rodin and Camille Claudel parted. Camille wanted Rodin to marry her, but he seemed unable to separate from Rose Beuret, a seamstress he had met during his youth. Rodin tried to help Camille and boost her career, but she grew suspicious of him. She would refer to him as “la fouine”, the snoop. Gradually, Camille became so isolated and hard to deal with that after her father’s death, her family decided to have her locked in a mental institution. She remained there until her death in 1943. During the 30 long years of her seclusion, her mother and her sister never visited her. Her brother, Paul Claudel, who had become a well-known writer, visited her on 13 occasions.
By the time Camille was put in a mental institution, Rodin was an old man. Apart from sending her money, he was not able to give much support. Rodin had many mistresses and never parted from Rose Beuret. However, Camille Claudel had a special place in his heart. When he planned Musée Rodin, he included an exhibition space for Camille’s works. In so doing, Rodin made the link between his work and the work of his unfortunate love unforgettable.
In spite of the incredible variety of Italian cuisine, breakfast tends to be quite minimalist in most parts of the country. Nowhere is this more evident than in the hectic city of Milan.
A pastry delicacy combined with an energy-boosting hot drink, usually coffee or cappuccino, and that’s usually it. No feasts of sliced ham and cheese, no omelettes, meat, or smoked herring. Italians will keep it simple: first and foremost, they will have their breakfasts sweet. Though relatively easy to satisfy different tastes due to the cosmopolitan soul of the city, most locals regard savoury breakfasts as an odd, exotic habit.
Brioches or ‘cornetti’ – a local variation of French croissants – are the preferred breakfast treat in Northern Italian bars. They can be plain or filled with ‘crema pasticcera’ (a dense custard), ‘marmellata’ (jam – usually apricot), or even chocolate. Sold at bars and bakeries, they are cheap, filling and easy to carry around when you’re in a rush (or busy taking in the sights!). You cannot really ask for better.
For a richer breakfast, you might opt for a Sicilian treat: the southernmost region of Italy is well-known for its opulent, visually stunning delicacies, such as ‘cannoli’, ‘cassata’ or fruit-shaped marzipan. If you are interested in the latter, the Delizia(via Solari 41, M2 Porta Genova) is currently the top-rated spot to enjoy Sicilian pastries in Milan.
Along with brioche, Italians will most likely ask for coffee. In fact, coffee is taken quite seriously, and there is a whole system of rules surrounding it. Infringing on this will either amuse or irritate the locals; they will then make it their goal to enthusiastically teach foreign visitors everything they need to know about the country’s most beloved fuel.
The somewhat haughty atmosphere of Milan is well reflected in its many long-standing cafés, hinting at the city’s historic French and Austrian heritage. Enter any of them in the city centre and you will feel like time stopped still a hundred years ago.
The settings include elegant furniture, mirrors, and shelves filled with old bottles, as well all sorts of sweets, pastries and cakes. Just before Christmas, I referred to ‘panettone’ as the most famous treat in Milan, as it does not have many other sweets to call its own (even though ‘colomba’, a typical Easter cake, has a very similar texture and taste). However, this is not entirely true. The geographical proximity to famous places of confectionery like the Piedmont region, Vienna and France, provides Milan with a wealth of tasty delicacies. A small selection of ‘pasticcini’ is always a wise choice, as you will be able to try out different tastes. To compliment your tea or coffee, there are ‘tartellette’ with fresh fruit, cream-filled ‘cannoncini’, chocolate beignets, rum-drenched ‘babà’ (a typical Neapolitan treat) and ‘baci di dama’ (doughy, thick biscuits with a hazelnut cream filling). ‘Marron glacés’, candied chestnuts, are another wonderful feature of Italian confectioneries.
You can find confectioneries scattered around Milan. Some of them pride themselves on very long traditions, like Marchesi, established in 1824 and soon opening its third shop in the galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Another famous ‘pasticceria’ right in the centre of Milan is Cova which, due to renovation, will be re-opened in April 2017. Cova excels in fine chocolates and nougat. A bit further out, but just as well-rated, are Castelnuovo, offering an incredible range of delicious cakes, and Martesana, whose namesake cake ‘Torta Martesana’ has been defined as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ treat. A further address to take note of is Pavè. Compared to other offerings, this confectionery has a more modern, hip look and offers specific menus at breakfast, lunch, dinner and aperitivo. It is even possible to buy a variety of products and merchandise there. However, its main feature is its exposed laboratory, allowing customers to look in on the preparation of all of Pavè’s products.
On the subject of historical local traditions, the Carnival will soon take place in Milan. This year, Saturday 4th March will be the peak day for Carnival in Milan.
Compared to the Roman-Catholic ritual, the Ambrosian Carnival (specifically related to Milan and a few surrounding cities) is strangely celebrated after Lent has begun. As a result, ‘Fat Saturday’ replaces the traditional ‘Mardi Gras’. This is due to the bishop Ambrosius, now Milan’s patron saint, demanding that the celebration of Carnival be postponed to his return from a pilgrimage.
For the Carnival celebrations, a parade worms its way through the streets of Milan. Each year, it follows a specific theme recalling the heritage of the city. You can often spot the character of Meneghino, a servant originally from the Commedia Dell Arte. ‘Meneghino’ is also a loose term to describe a Milanese person.
Just like in the rest of Italy, it is customary in Milan to eat fried sweets for Carnival. The most famous are undoubtedly ‘tortelli’ (fried bits of soft sweet dough) and ‘chiacchiere’, crunchy strips covered in sugar, which are named in no less than thirty different ways all across Italy.
While the English have been enjoying the luxury of tea drinking for over 350 years, it was only 170 years ago that the ritual of afternoon tea (a light meal of dainty sandwiches, cakes and pastries alongside the tea) developed alongside it. Originally the invention of Anna Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford, the habit was soon taken up by fashionable ladies across the country and is now a mainstay on menus in London’s most elegant hotels and tearooms.
For a classic approach and superb attention to detail, book well in advance for a table at one of Claridge’s afternoon tea sittings. Served in the hotel’s elegant Art Deco foyer, their version will delight tea connoisseurs and anyone with impeccable taste (they took home the ‘Best Traditional Afternoon Tea’ award at the Afternoon Tea Awards last year).
Claridge’s have close competition from other iconic hotels, of course. The Ritz sets an equally sky-high standard with its focus on immaculate traditional fare (with an opulent setting at the hotel’s Palm Court salon to boot), while the Dorchester delivers their finest Dalreoch teas and exquisite treats in the beautifully plush surroundings of the Promenade lobby. Perhaps a lesser-known name but a royal favourite nonetheless, the Goringnear Buckingham Palace has been perfecting its afternoon tea since it opened in 1910, and the string of awards from the British Tea Council attest that the proof is indeed in the pudding (or, at least, in the pastry!).
Outside of the famed London hotels there are still plenty of decadent and traditional servings. Fortnum & Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon offers an eminently stylish option that exudes old world glamour and provides a huge variety of tea accompaniments. The sketch Galleryin Mayfair brings a similar dose of luxury to its tea, but this time the fluffy scones are served up against the unusual yet delightful backdrop of retro powder pink velvet upholstery and framed cartoons.
If you’re less of a traditionalist, never fear. There are a whole host of more innovative varieties to choose from in the capital. Elevate the afternoon tea experience to new heights (quite literally) by dining at Ting at the Shangri-La Hotel, located at the 35th floor of the Shard. Usually split between traditional and Asian versions of afternoon tea, it’s not just the view that’s top notch.
For a meal with a dash of whimsy and magic, theSanderson’s Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea might be just the ticket. This rendering puts colourful twists on afternoon tea staples and adds delightfully themed accessories into the mix (think ‘drink me’ labels, pocket-watch macaroons, and playful crockery) to transform a classic experience to something truly extraordinary.
P.S. Don’t forget to check dress codes! Most establishments simply ask for smart casual attire, but some do prohibit specific types of clothing as well – ripped jeans, flip-flops and the like are usually a no-no.
As the home of some of the best chefs in the world, Barcelona offers a great variety of places to eat. You can enjoy typical Catalan and Spanish food or try a new creative fusion cuisine. After reading our list of the best eats in Barcelona, you will never go hungry.
If you want to try something typical and not too expensive, go to Morrysom, in the Eixample district (Calle Girona, 162). This place still preserves the essence of old Spanish bars, with food options on display at the bar, making it easy for you to choose what you would like to try. This bar-restaurant offers a great variety of tapas. Gazpacho (cold tomato soup), ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad) and ajo arriero (traditionally prepared garlic dish) are their top choices.
For tapas lovers, there are several options in districts of Barcelona that are less central. La Esquinica, located in the Horta quarter (Passeig de Fabra i Puig, 296), has a genuine local atmosphere combined with friendly service and excellent food. Don’t leave without trying their patatas bravicas (potato dish) or morcillica (black pudding with rice), best combined with the typical Spanish caña (draft beer in a glass).
Another option is Bar Tomás, located in Sarrià (Carrer Major de Sarrià, 49). This place also offers a great variety of tapas, of which their famed chipirones (small calamari). A piece of advice here – go early, before lunch or dinner, as it is small and popular. If you want to be seated right away, avoid the peak times.
For hamburger lovers, Bacoa, founded by an Australian chef, is a great place. What’s more, there are a couple to be found around the city. It is worth checking out the branch in Barcelonata, Carrer del Judici, 15. The 250 gram high quality beef burgers make it one of the best hamburger bars of the city. Don’t forget to try their roasted potato fries.
Barcelona is a modern city. Vegans are not forgotten and can also enjoy great food. Cat Bar, next to the centrally-located Via Laietana (Carrer de la Bòria, 17), offers a variety of vegan dishes for a good price. The veggie burger is especially good. This is also a hotspot for trying Catalan craft beers. If you are looking for more vegan restaurants at Barcelona check our article: Vegan Vegetarian and Gluten Free Barcelona
La Mar Salada
If you are looking for some good seafood within walking distance of the beach, go to La Mar Salada, in Passeig Joan de Borbó, right next to the harbour. Typical dishes here are paella, arròs negre (black rice with seafood) and fideuà (short noodle paella). Desserts are also worth ordering. This restaurant is good value for money considering it is in the popular seaside Barceloneta neighbourhood.
If you want to try the best Catalan cuisine, Can Culleretes is your place (Carrer d’en Quintana, 5). The oldest restaurant of Barcelona offers an extended list of the most exquisite Catalan dishes. Among the most popular are canelons de brandada de bacallà (cannelloni pasta with fish), l’orada al forn (oven-roasted fish) and l’escudella (meat soup). This restaurant is located in Barri Gòtic, the gothic quarter.
For those who seek more fancy establishments, Alkimiais up there with the best (Ronda Sant Antoni, 41). Located in Eixample, in the factory of Moritz beer, it is considered one of the most modern restaurants in Barcelona. The menu selection is superb, creative and follows the latest cuisine techniques. Their arròs d’escamarlans i nyores (rice with fish) is considered one of the best in the city. If you are looking for a pleasant and chic evening, this is your place.
El Bitxarracu is a restaurant owned by Víctor Quintillà and Mar Gómez. Here you can find a modern Catalan cuisine for a good price right in the centre of the city, in the district of Eixample (Calle Valencia 212). The main specialties are Curry Thai de pollo de corral con arroz basmati (Thai curry chicken with basmati rice) and Schiaffoni Garofalo gratinados y rellenos de boloñesa eco (macaroni filled with bolognese sauce). They also have a superb wine list of a Catalan and Spanish variety.
It’s simply not worth considering being on a diet whilst in Italy. After all, il Bel Paese, the beautiful Italian country, is world-renowned for its countless delicacies. Milan makes no exception: the city’s culinary tradition somehow “summarises” many different influences. Let me provide you with a selection of 10 of the best Milanese restaurants, from the most traditional eateries to Michelin-starred gourmet, not to forget vegetarian cuisine, exotic suggestions, and daring-yet-interesting experimental offerings. Whatever your taste, or your budget, you will find what you are looking for here!
No stay in Italy can be considered complete until you get the chance to experience the local food. In spite of its cosmopolitan allure, the city is well-aware and proud of its historical heritage, and many ‘trattoria’ and ‘osteria’ are still alive and well. Since 1928, Trattoria del nuovo macello offers the most typical dishes of the Milan cuisine – risotto with or without ossobuco, cotoletta (breaded veal), mondeghili (local-style meatballs), amongst others – at medium-range prices. You can get a four-course taster menu for € 33.
To get an idea of what an authentic ‘trattoria’ feels like, imagine a cosy, rather informal atmosphere, embellished with traditional furniture and serving hearty regional food and tasty wines. If there’s one golden rule about eating out in Italy, it’s following the locals’ example. Do this and you won’t be disappointed, ever!
Best pizzeria – Marghe(via Plinio 6, M1 Lima or via Cadore 26, tram 62 or 84 via Cadore/via Spartaco)
Naples is a long drive away, but even in northern Italy’s main city you can get the chance to try the original version of the most famous national dish. While Neapolitan’s historical brand Sorbillo has recently opened a pizzeria by the Duomo, Lievito Madre, we suggest the just-as-delicious Marghe, offering the true, thick-crusted pizza margherita – tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves – as well as some other interesting variations.
Friendly reminder: we know how tempting it is to try out all sorts of creative toppings, but if you want to try the most authentic Italian pizza, just keep it simple, as Neapolitan purists would. If you want to feel like a true Milanese, you can head to one of the Spontini restaurants and get a thick, soft, and incredibly cheesy pizza slice!
For those who dare – TrattoNero (Istituto dei ciechi di Milano, Milan Institute of the Blind, via Vivaio 7, M1 – Palestro)
So varied are the unusual restaurants in Milan that it was hard to pick just one. With this in mind, TrattoNero seemed quite a symbolic and meaningful choice. Like other restaurants elsewhere in Italy, it is related to the Italian Union of Blind and Partially Sighted People (ONLUS) : the location is permanently coated in absolute darkness, and customers are guided to their tables by blind waiters. Dialogo nel Buio (‘Dialogue in the Darkness’) is a project meant to establish a sympathetic connection between those who can see and those who can’t. A little planning is necessary here, as booking is compulsory and the payment (€ 50/person) is made in advance via bank transfer. You will also need to get to the restaurant half an hour before your meal starts and, as the menu is never revealed to the guests, you will need to warn the staff about your allergies and food intolerances. As such, you can try an enriching experience that could add something to your life as well as your perception of reality. This experience will not leave you indifferent.
Best sushi & Japanese restaurant – Sumire(via Varese 1, M2 Moscova)
Compared to other Italian cities, Milan seems more keen on accepting foreign influences. In particular, sushi is taken quite seriously by Japanese food connoisseurs.
Whenever you feel like stepping away from Italian dishes and trying some ‘local non-local’ delicacies, you can head to Sumire, a small restaurant that has managed to create the perfect atmosphere to taste sashimi, sushi and many other traditional dishes that even Japanese customers genuinely appreciate. Due to the restaurant’s small size, you are advised to book a table in advance.
Best kosher and best halal restaurants – Carmel (viale San Gimignano 10, M1 Bande Nere, dairy) / Re Salomone (via Sardegna 45, M1 Wagner or M1 De Angeli, meat) and Mido (via Pietro Custodi 4 – tram no. 3 or bus no. N15 piazza XXIV Maggio)
For those of you who wish to respect the kasherut eating code or just want to try Jewish cuisine (which is not that widespread in Italy), the best place in Milan is Carmel. It hosts a Middle Eastern menu, featuring falafel, hummus and many other delicacies as well as a fair supply of pizzas and Italian recipes. Due to the kosher rule of not mixing milk with meat, you won’t find the latter ingredient anywhere. In turn, Re Salomone is the best Milanese restaurant offering meat-based kosher dishes, though it is also possible to find meat-free recipes.
If you wish to abide to the halal tradition, we suggest Mido, an Arabic restaurant where all ingredients are home-made and where you can get several tasters at once by ordering a complete menu.
Both kosher and halal rules are tightly connected to the Jewish and Muslim culture and religion: to avoid disappointing surprises, make sure these restaurants aren’t closed for religious holidays (in general, Jewish restaurants respect the Shabbat between Friday night and Saturday night, Muslim restaurants will likely be closed on Fridays). Remember that most devout Muslims do not drink alcohol, and that pork is an absolute taboo for both religions!
Best vegetarian / vegan restaurant:Joia * (via Panfilo Castaldi, 18 – M1 Porta Venezia)
Dear vegetarian and vegan friends, we have good and bad news for you. The bad news is, it’s more difficult to find meat-, dairy-, and eggs-free restaurants in Milan than it could be elsewhere in Italy, due to the central role of these ingredients in the Lombard cuisine.
Now the good news: there are several organic food shops and vegetarian-friendly eateries all over the city, and Joia is probably the best-ranked of them all! Chef Pietro Leemann’s holistic perspective on nutrition is transformed into surrealistic, colourful dishes. Vegan and gluten-free options are specifically marked on the menu. This airy, minimalistic restaurant is quite expensive, but it shines thanks to its visual, as well as culinary, creativity.
Top-ranked gourmet restaurants
Cracco** (via Victor Hugo 4, M1 Cordusio or M1/M3 Duomo)
Carlo Cracco is more than a chef in Italy – he’s a star. When he’s not working on the latest of his creations, you’ll likely see him onscreen, as a judge of culinary competitions or as a recurrent ad testimonial. Cracco’s recipes bravely mix ingredients from different sources, be it Italian or more exotic combinations. Egg-based dishes and risotto seem to prevail in the menu, and it could certainly be an interesting experience to try out the Milanese first course par excellence, in its original shape or in a unique variation.
Fish and seafood certainly play a central role in Chef Claudio Sadler’s restaurant, located on the quay of Naviglio Pavese. Sadler’s culinary research is influenced by the Japanese tradition, which he fearlessly combines with local and non-marine ingredients. All in all, freshwater salmon, sturgeon, and caviar are central features to this restaurant’s offering. On top of this, you can also find interesting meat-based or vegetarian creations. To get the chance to enjoy several samples of Sadler’s creations, you can opt for a menu, ranging from € 80 for the ‘Young’ menu to the € 180-worth ‘Creativo’ menu, mainly intended for group meals.
Aimo and Nadia are no less than an institution. The Tuscan couple and their staff, now led by their daughter Stefania, have always taken the conception of food as an art very seriously. This has resulted in original interpretations of Italian cuisine, created from certified Italian products. Inspiration comes from all across the peninsula, especially from the centre and the North. Prices are, alas, quite high: on the other hand, this will likely be the ultimate Italian food experience, and it may be worth it to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
If you liked our top 10 restaurants in Milan try to check our selected Milan homes for your vacation!