An Insider's Guide to Milan Design Week

An Insider's Guide to Milan Design Week

Springtime in Milan means one thing - Milan Design Week.
Springtime in Milan means one thing - Milan Design Week.

During Milan Design Week (April 15 – 21) the city embraces its rich design heritage and flaunts it to the max. With design fairs Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone leading the way, local and international creatives, designers and industry professionals will be in town to check out dozens of design-related events. Taking place in districts across Milan, the distinct Milanese design vibe blends the cutting-edge and the traditional. To show us around her hometown, Eugenia Fassati from Sotheby’s 20th century design department presents a personal tour of the city, taking in the best cappuccinos in town, the finest Old Masters, food, shopping and a tranquil Lake Maggiore getaway.

Eugenia Fassati, Sotheby's 20th Century Design, Milan

I was born and raised in the vibrant city of Milan and I've always been captivated by its unique blend of history, culture, and cosmopolitan charm. To me, Milan isn't just home; it's a city that continuously inspires, with its blend of dynamic energy and rich heritage. What truly sets Milan apart in my opinion, is its ability to seamlessly blend tradition with modernity. It has a tapestry of contrasts that lends the city its unmistakable character. And with Milan Design Week, the city has become in the last decade, the capital of design. It expresses a vibrant and creative atmosphere and is one of the most important destinations for designers, architects, collectors and students from around the world. It's also when we hold our exciting spring auction - this April, we have two, focusing on modern and contemporary art and design, with preview exhibitions taking place at our Palazzo Serbelloni headquarters. Come by and have a look!

Oasi dell'inclusione by Antonio Giuseppe Malafarina at Fuorisalone (Piazza della Chiesa di Santa Maria Incoronata, Corso Garibaldi 11) (Courtesy Fuorisalone)

Milan Design Week runs between 15 - 21 April and spans exhibitions and design fairs, such as Salone del Mobile, Fuorisalone and Alcova, as well as numerous design-related events across the city. In fact, there is so much going on, the city has organised its programmes geographically, across Milan's design districts including 5Vie Design Week, Brera Design District, Isola Design District, Porta Venezia Design District, Tortona Design Week, Milano Durini Design District and Montenapoleone District.

"Each April, Milan becomes the capital of design, one of the most important stops for designers, architects, collectors and students"
- Eugenia Fassati

So, whether you’re in town for our April auctions, to experience Milan's design festivities or simply to enjoy the wealth of experiences on offer in Milan, I've suggested an itinerary that combines sightseeing with culinary delights, unique shopping opportunities with must-see museums and galleries and of course, my own favourite spots to grab a cappuccino and brioche, to make your trip to my beloved home city a memorable one!


April is a frenetic month in Milan, with miart, Salone del Mobile and dozens of design events taking place. Also, Sotheby’s Milan is holding two separate auctions, each accompanied with an exhibition of curated lots in our Palazzo Serbelloni galleries.

The first is the Modern & Contemporary Art auction, live in Milan on 12 April at 6pm. We’ll be exhibiting a selection of lots from this sale at our galleries in the Palazzo Serbelloni between 5 - 11 April, featuring a selection of masterpieces by Lucio Fontana, Giorgio Morandi, Alighiero Boetti, Damien Hirst and Carla Accardi, to name just a few.

Gaetano Pesce Half Bowl prototype (2008) Produzione Meritalia

The second exhibition and sale is our Design auction, online between 16 - 23 April. The exhibition, which will be open to public during Salone del Mobile and FuoriSalone, presents an overview of the auction that demonstrates our deep passion for design - with creators from, and inspired by Milan, the ultimate city of design, over the decades.
Palazzo Serbelloni, Corso Venezia, 16, 20121 Milano


Casa Cipriani

The Pickering Room, Casa Cipriani (Courtesy Casa Cipriani)

Just by Sotheby’s Palazzo Serbelloni, Casa Cipriani is a five-star members club and boutique hotel in the centre of Milan, with a beautiful view over the park. It has a very eclectic and naturally cosmopolitan ambiance which makes for a truly luxurious and relaxing stay. It also has elegance, Milanese charm and impeccable service, making it the perfect retreat after a busy day’s exploration. The building was recently completely renovated, with Michele Bonan, one of the most important Florentine architects designing much of the interior. Casa Cipriani is a members-only club, but non-members can book one of their 15 luxury rooms and in doing so, gain access all the club's enviable amenities - from the Club Restaurant, Pickering Room, Living Room, gym and spa.
Via Palestro, 24, 20121 Milano



Sant'Ambroeus (Courtesy Sant'Ambroeus)

Start your day with breakfast at Sant’Ambroeus, a Milanese institution known for its classic pastries. They have the greatest cappuccino in Milan! My favourite pastry here is the cornetto alla marmellata (classic brioche filled with jam). This is where all sorts of people start their day in the classic Milanese way.
Corso Giacomo Matteotti, 7, 20121 Milano

Terrazza Triennale

Triennale Milano (Courtesy Gianluca Di Ioia)

I would suggest a light lunch at Terrazza at Triennale Milano museum, where you can enjoy the wonderful view! From the terrace you can see the treetops of the Sempione Park, the towers of the Sforzesco Castle, and new skyline of the CityLife skyscrapers. Try the ‘Milan’ tasting menu, serving a wonderful cotechino, osso bucco and panettone, with paired wines for EUR60 a head. After lunch, head downstairs to visit the Triennale Milano museum in the Parco Sempione. During April 2024 they have an amazing exhibition on view, in partnership with Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, on Alessandro Mendini, one of the most important great masters of Italian design.
Viale Emilio Alemagna 6, 20121 Milan

Antica Trattoria Pesa

Antica Trattoria Pesa

If you want a real, authentic Trattoria that’s old, cozy and evocative of the Milan of the 1960s this is the spot. My favourite dishes here are the mondeghili, the vitello tonnato and the classic fragrant risotto alla Milanese, served with a mouth-watering chunk of tender ossobuco.
Viale Pasubio, 10, 20154 Milano


Seafood at Sogni (Courtesy Sogni)

This stylish new restaurant in Milan is absolutely buzzing right now, as it’s the perfect spot for an elegant and fun night out in one venue. With a bar, club and restaurant, I especially adore its delicious Italian nouvelle cuisine, with the emphasis on fresh and innovative seafood dishes. They also offer excellent vegetarian options. Not only is the food absolutely amazing, but the cocktails are stunning works of art. Top tip - start your dinner with the amazing Plateau de cruditee or the fresh raw fish dish.
Via S. Calocero, 8, 20123 Milano



Banner (Courtesy Biffi Boutiques)

When I want to indulge in some high-end shopping, I head to the Quadrilatero della Moda and the Via Montenapoleone and Via Sant’Andrea for a taste of luxury. Amid the usual, well-known names, Banner stands out as a multi-brand store with an amazing selection of emerging designers alongside established international names.
Via Sant'Andrea, 8, 20121 Milano

Tearose Boutique Milano

Tearose Boutique Milano (Courtesy Tearose Boutique Milano)

Head to the boho Brera district to find cool boutiques, hipster pop ups and cute, stylish shops - I would especially recommend a visit to Tearose Boutique Milano, a beautiful flower-filled store featuring accessories, couture, clothing, fragrances, furniture and much more.
Via Croce Rossa 2, 20121 Milano


Tivioli (Courtesy Tivioli)

Founded in 1970 by Carlo Tivioli, Tivioli is today a mainstay of the Milanese couture scene. Since Carlo’s son Clemente took over the business in 2014, the brand has been evolving from a traditional Italian atelier to an exciting fashion brand that blends global textiles with local expertise. Check out their range of cashmere pullovers, embroidered coats and their signature up-cycled shearling, for a casual-chic look for globetrotting gentlemen and ladies.
Via Santo Spirito, 24 20121 Milano


Poldi Pezzoli Museum

Poldi Pezzoli Museum (Courtesy Poldi Pezzoli Museum)

If you are in Milan before 24 June, you absolutely have to go to the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, which is hosting a most incredible “reunion”. This is the Saint Augustine Altarpiece (1454–1469), by Piero della Francesca, a four-part polyptych which amazingly, in its 500 year plus history, has never been presented in its entirety before. Not only can you marvel at the stunning work itself, but the museum has the extraordinary story of the creation and subsequent history of the constituent panels which have been dispersed in collections and institutions around the world over the centuries.
Via Alessandro Manzoni, 12, 20121 Milano

Bagatti Valsecchi Museum

Bagatti Valsecchi Museum (Courtesy Ruggero Longoni)

Located in the the middle of the Quadrilatero della Moda, the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi has an incredible collection of Old Master paintings, furniture and objects. I love this charming little museum, which was created in the late 19th century by the two brothers, Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi in their historical family house. It’s always a beautiful, tranquil space to come and soak up a uniquely Milanese history.
Via Gesù, 5, 20121 Milano

Fondazione Luigi Rovati

Entrance hall (Courtesy Giovanni de Sandre for Fondazione Luigi Rovati)

The Fondazione Luigi Rovati is a Sotheby’s Preferred museum which opened in September 2022 and hosts a beautiful Etruscan collection alongside masterpieces of contemporary art over two floors of exhibition space. The stone architecture section on the Hypogeum Floor presents some beautiful cupolas and triangular crystal cases featuring large vases, votive offerings, antefixes and small Etruscan bronzes, alongside modern and contemporary works by Arturo Martini, Lucio Fontana, and William Kentridge.
On the first floor, you can enjoy the interiors which were designed by Filippo Perego in 1960 – boiserie, gilded doors, floorings, marble fireplaces and 18th century mirrors in the hallway - were renovated and readjusted to build an avant garde exposition space; the studies behind the chromatic choices open up a dialogue between archaeology and contemporary art.
Corso Venezia, 52, 20121 Milano


Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore

View to the island Isola Bella and Isola Superiore over Lake Maggiore (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)

If you have time for a day trip from Milano, I suggest you go to Isola Bella. It is an enchanting island in the Lago Maggiore with its picturesque gardens, palaces, and timeless charm, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking beauty and tranquility. Ferries depart from nearby Stresa.
Navigazione Isole Borromee Lago Maggiore S.N.C., Piazza Marconi, 28838 Stresa VB

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