Milan is considered one of the most chaotic cities in the world. And I am not going to deny that! Milan is the world capital of fashion (yes Milan and not Paris), some will be surprised by reading that but the city still retains its crown despite the competition with the French capital during the last 10 years.
It is the epicenter of national finance, advertising and publishing, the headquarters of several companies. The typical winter fog makes it look gray and gloomy and even though someone might find these characteristics not very attractive, I see them as an asset instead: they give to Milan a sense of uniqueness and an aura of mistery.
I've always considered Milan, the city where I was born, as a tiny New York for the characteristics that I mentioned above. However, like any other metropolis in the world, it has a hidden face, the one few people notice amid the city rush.
It has a private side, where the aesthetic prevails and where creative souls lie tucked away in courtyards, behind gated streetscapes. Many tourists just spend all day roaming around, unaware of what is hidden behind a door. When I was a child my mother told me about those hidden spots in Milan of which the non residents are unaware of. She said that there are still well kept secrets in the middle of my beloved city that cannot be found so easily unless you are a local or you have your google map available.
It's a fusion of style and urban degradation. The secret places of Milan are a fertile ground for artists, writers, fashion designers and even chefs whose creativity is nurtured by the local buzz in its bohemian streets, hidden restaurants behind a garden (chic and cozy at the same time), public gardens and parks, cobbled streets that lead to unexpected spots, navigable canals and private clubs not visible from the road. All this and much more.
Among the myriad of the hidden places that Milan offers to us there is a place near the center of the city which is not very easy to find. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city traffic, you enter in a gated road and find yourself in the middle of a tipical 1950s milanese courtyard. At the end of this road is Fonderie Milanesi.
As soon as I walked in I fell in love with the setting of this place. The industrial chic style perfectly matches with the building: this was once an old foundry indeed and it is amazing how the owners transformed this in a cozy and original place for a drink, maintaining the charm of an ancient past. There is a great atmosphere inside, it is a vintage and elegant location at the same time and you have the impression of going 70 years back in time.
Its original exposed brick walls frame a vintage furnished interior. A petrol pump machine lies in front of the bar and if you look up towards the ceiling you will notice not just the exposed beams but also a bicycles hanging from one of those beams, like the old bicycles shops used to expose their models in the 1950s. If you had lived in this period you would have probably found plenty of these bicycle shops in Milan, as not everybody could afford a car like nowadays. Each piece of furniture is detailed designed with the intent of giving to those who go inside a flashback of what the post WWII old foundries looked like.
Outside this unique place, set in the outer courtyard, there is a wonderful vintage looking gardenfull of plants and flowers, a romantic pergola and vintage wooden coffee tables, where during the hot summer evenings you can dine with the lights of the old streets lamps or enjoy an aperitif with sunset lights. A truly magical atmosphere for a special night out!
Besides being one of the most original location in Milan where enjoying an aperitif or a dinner with friends (if you have the chance to go during a live music evening the atmosphere gets really magical) Fonderie Milanesi offers one the most delicious brunch (on Saturdays and Sundays). You can enjoy your pancake with strawberry jam and choose something at the rich buffet table.