While admiring the stunning collections of paintings, sculptures, costumes and jewellery on offer in the city, why not take a well-earned break in one of the elegant cafés of the eclectic Milanese museums: a soothing immersion into history, art and sheer beauty set amidst design furniture and contemporary gastronomy.

 

No longer just Paris or London - where the first museum coffee shop at the Victoria & Albert Museum was established - Milano too has major museums and exhibition venues that offer contemporary chill-out spaces for an après-exhibition break where you can browse art catalogues, sip a hot infusion inebriated by the enticing scent of a warm croissant, sit back and enjoy the view of the garden and the city with a cappuccino and a book or even listen to jazz whilst sipping a glass of chilled wine.

 

Here’s our list of 5 favourite places that combine history and contemporary taste, where you can be enchanted before, after, or even independently of, your museum visit. 

Caffè Fernanda, the Pinacoteca di Brera Bistrot

Via Brera 28

The location is dedicated to the figure of Fernanda Wittgens, the passionate art historian and special superintendent of the gallery between 1930 and 1950, who was also the first woman to manage a state museum. Indeed she still observes the scene from above in a bust by Marino Marini.

 

As a tribute to her visionary direction of the Pinacoteca di Brera as a "living museum" (she decorated it with flowers, led guided tours herself and extended the evening hours), when the museum underwent renovations in 2018, a 50's-style bar was inaugurated in her name.  

 

With marble fittings, dark teal blue walls, gilded tables, rose pink armchairs and the "historic" bar counter dominated by Pietro Damini’s artwork S. Bernardo’s conversion the Duke of Aquitaine. All this beauty is tastefully seasoned by a special project: the creation the Pinacoteca’s own allotment to supply the bistrot with seasonal vegetables.

Caffè Triennale, with view of the Palazzo dell'arte garden

Viale Emilio Alemagna 6

As you cross the threshold of the imposing European-inspired Palazzo Dell'Arte, designed by the architect Giovanni Muzio, and walk along the wide hallway advertising the current exhibitions, you step into the accommodating white space of the Café with its large windows overlooking the park. Views on the De Chirico’s Mysterious Baths sculpture and other works, plus, the open kitchen and long communal tables make the space perfect for browsing bookstore purchases, enjoying a drink or tasting some modern Italian cuisine.

 

For aperitifs and apres-TeatroDell'Arte: new evening opening hours until 23:00 for focaccia, burgers and Italian-style poke bowls.

 

The tranquil view never ceases to amaze and is even more evocative from the Triennale Terrace, a sort of transparent greenhouse suspended over the park. The top-floor Osteria boasts a spectacular view of the Milanese skyline that emerges from the verdant expanse of Parco Sempione below.

 

When you feel a hint of spring is in the air head outdoors to the Caffè Giardino, to sit around the large convivial table under the wooden veranda.

LuBar, a winter garden in Villa Reale

Via Palestro 16

An enchanted winter garden adorned with gorgeous greenery, marble columns, large windows, wrought iron ornaments and… flamingos; the bar is set in what was once the villa’s Orangery in the south portico and a transit place for carriages.

 

The LuBar was inaugurated at Villa Reale in 2017, the brainchild of three brothers who won the tender for a restaurant next to the Gallery of Modern Art: they created a bistro inspired by a fusion of chiringuitos, typical Sicilian street food and impeccable style, as suited to the prestigious location.

 

The Sicilian origins inspire the gourmet menu, right through from breakfast to lunchtime and aperitifs. All set against a backdrop of continuous musical, cultural or easy-to-read entertainment. It seems that Sunday is particularly popular, you just have to book and try!

Giacomo Caffè, Palazzo Reale’s Literary Cafe

Piazza Duomo 12

The charming Literary Café has a very ancient appeal evoking the atmosphere of a cultural drawing room; we can only guess what rooms it was used for when the Palace welcomed the royals.

 

Perfect for an delightful and tranquil break, right in the heart of the city, where you can start your day at breakfast time with delicious freshly-baked croissants, treat yourself to one of Chef Giacomo’s signature lunches or pause for thought on the first floor to sip a tea whilst you browse the Palazzo Reale exhibition catalogues from the past 25 years.

 

You can also opt for a table outside and enjoy the beautiful Royal Palace courtyard.

Voce Aimo e Nadia, gourmet bar and restaurant at the Gallerie d'italia

Piazza della Scala 6

The creativity of the works in the Gallerie d'Italia collections is also reflected in the skills, attention to detail and excellent raw materials of Voce Aimo e Nadia’s cultural approach to food, the new landmark of gastronomic culture in Milano.

 

The wine list reserves ample space for Italian wine production showcasing young companies, small businesses with a long heritage and well-established internationally recognized producers.  

 

At sunset, after a guided tour of the Galleries, you can move into the Cafeteria’s lounge area which offers musical performances from the Voce in Jazz aperitivo concerts to classic cover songs.