Gastronomy has always played an integral role in Milanese culture and identity. The city’s food culture combines entrenched Italian traditions with more recent outside influences to make for a unique, stimulating, and diverse eating experience. On this Milan Food Tour, we will touch on a few of the city's most cherished food traditions, from espresso to aperitivo, to tasty panini, with an emphasis on how Milanese cuisine is different from other Italian regions. We will walk through the historic city center with our docent, a food writer, chef, or culinary educator, who will lead us to some of their favorite places to sample the city's best savory and sweet treats.
Milan Food Tour
We will begin our Milan Food Tour in the heart of the historical center, home to many traditional bakeries, shops, and cafes. We’ll kick things off in a celebrated coffee shop, introducing the themes of the tour from a local (and typically stylish) setting as we admire locals popping in to stand and consume their traditional breakfast. Over an espresso and a typical pastry, the way Italians start their days, we’ll discuss the origins of both of these staples. We may, for instance, talk about varying amounts of sugar and butter in baked goods, and the influence of Austria and France for Milanese cuisine. Our docent will turn to the specifics of how these delicacies are made and the role these traditional spots for locals play today.
From here, our MIlan Food Tour will continue through the city center, admiring the sights and sounds around us. Our docent may touch upon the history of Milan in relation to the emergence and growth of this business capital in the 1980s, thanks to the stock exchange and finance sector. The growth of the ‘yuppies’ (young professionals) meant that people were likely to buy ready-made dishes or expensive delicatessen-style food as a symbol of wealth. We’ll pop into one of these establishments to demonstrate and admire the museum-like display of the foods of the region, as well as the rest of Italy. We might taste parmesan from Parma, admire fresh pasta rolled on sight, and gape at the price of a 500 ml bottle of balsamic vinegar. All the while, we will discuss local agricultural products, their background and how they differ from foods in other parts of Italy. Our docent will be able to explain the beautifully presented fresh foods, preserves, and Italian traditional foods that surround us.
We’ll amble on our Milan Food Tour through the main square of the city, admiring the white marble facade of the Duomo (cathedral) before stopping for an aperitivo, a north Italian tradition. Our docent will talk about the history of this hallowed tradition, which usually involves pre-lunch or dinner drink accompanied by some salty snacks and a good chat among friends. As we sip on a pink drink such as Campari, invented in nearby Novara, we’ll talk about why having a drink at 11:30 AM is not uncommon in Milan and the evolution of the aperitivo today. With our metabolism kicked into action, we’ll head to get a small spot of lunch at a local eatery. Winding our way through the streets of this historic city, our docent will weave us a tale about the intrinsic role that food has played in the past. We may talk about the old Milanese city farmer’s market that sold produce from the countryside around Milan until 1959. Depending on the interests and tastes of our group or desire of our docent we may try a pizza inspired by Naples, a local panino sandwich with fresh Italian cheese or prosciutto, or a taste of the renowned Milanese saffron risotto.
End on a Sweet Note
We will wrap up our Milan Food Tour at an artisanal gelateria, where the gelato is made by hand using the freshest ingredients sourced from all over Italy. We will discuss the difference between industrial and hand-made gelato while our docent trains our eyes to differentiate ice cream created with chemical additives, as opposed to genuine products. In addition to classics like hazelnut and pistachio, we could try more inventive variations like beetroot chocolate, or pear.
Through our Savoring Milan Food Tour, you will come away with an appreciation for and understanding of the rich culinary tradition that still exists in the center of Milan. Using the lessons learned with our gastronomic expert, you will comfortably be able to navigate Milan's cafes and food shops like a native.
Can I participate in your small group food tours if I have food allergies?
Yes. If you have any specific allergies/intolerances, please indicate these in the Travel Notes section during booking. Your docent will do his or her best to accommodate, though please note that some shops we visit do use wheat flour and nuts in the kitchen for other items. Again, please make note of any dietary issues. If you are booking privately, we can customize a route that will avoid such items, something that we cannot fully do on our small group walks.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
The walk takes place within the city center, and stays within a relatively concentrated area. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number.
Can I do this tour in the afternoon?
For private groups, yes. The content might be a little different but we can adjust. Please note your preferred start time in the travel notes section.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your docent will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this seminar walking intensive, and/or wheelchair accessible?
Please let us know your requirements and we may well be able to adjust the tour for reduced mobility.
Is this tour appropriate for children?
This walk is not a part of our official family program. That said, we may be able to arrange a visit with a family-friendly docent. Please contact us.