Dylan Jones: Unlike Rome or Siena or Florence, Milan's modus operandi seems to be one of disguise


Milan is the ugliest city in all Italy. Because of my job, I must have been here at least 30 times over the last 20 years, but, shame on me, I hardly know the place at all. Why should I? Everything looks the same. I can find the big hotels - the Principe, the Palace, the Hyatt, the Grand etc - and only a fool could miss the Duomo, but Milan is a city behind closed doors.

The only way to really discover Italy's economic centre is to consult Google Earth. Here, you will see the huge gardens and courtyards that lie, crouching almost, behind the palazzi; here, you can see what all the fuss is about. Unlike Rome, Siena, Florence, or any of the grand Italian cities, Milan's modus operandi seems to be one of disguise.

And while it will never be a tourist destination to rival Lucca, Sorrento or Positano, Milan still has some of the best restaurants in the country. Fashion week in Milan is the sartorial equivalent of Groundhog Day, with fashion houses and magazine editors ping-ponging between the same half-a-dozen restaurants; and we are lucky that we really wouldn't want to eat anywhere else.

There's Le Lange (formerly Tom Ford's favourite); Bagutta (where it's possible to see Valentino's backstage army wolfing down the buffet); Bice (where Armani has been known to go, when he isn't entertaining at Nobu); and, my favourite, the Tour de Pisa. Along with football and church, eating is still the Italian way to communicate with God, and here you can do it with ease. The tiniest of trattorias, Miuccia Prada, Paul Smith and Nick Hart come here for cheeseballs, Tuscan rigatoni and table Barolo. Here, as in all of these places, you need to keep your voice down because any indiscretion will be picked up and couriered across town before you've made it back from the loo.

Italy was the place to be during the World Cup because, while the German efficiency and hospitality was faultless, only in Italy do you find the sort of passionate dedication to rival what you see in South America. During men's fashion week, the Italy vs Australia game coincided with the Versace show. Naturally enough, Donatella asked for a huge screen to be erected at the venue so that everyone could watch the match before the fashion show began. You'll remember that Italy were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes, enabling the national team to go through, and the Versace show to start. Now that's organisation.

Of course, the Italian obsession with the world's favourite sport continues to get them into trouble, but you have to have some grudging respect for a country that is so blatant about its dedication. After all, where else can you see the little boys playing football in the parks practising the art of diving?


Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
With an eye for strategy: Stephen Fry’s General Melchett and Rowan Atkinson’s Edmund Blackadder  

What Cameron really needs is to turn this into a khaki election

Matthew Norman
An Italian policeman stands guard as migrants eat while waiting at the port of Lampedusa to board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily. Authorities on the Italian island of Lampedusa struggled to cope with a huge influx of newly-arrived migrants as aid organisations warned the Libya crisis means thousands more could be on their way  

Migrant boat disaster: EU must commit funds to stop many more dying

Alistair Dawber
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own