Mix business and pleasure. The beautiful and the good. Art and food. In Milan, the combination of art and local cuisine is certainly nothing new, with successful openings of cafes and restaurants in famous museums that quickly gained equal importance, both serving as similar hubs of attraction and entertainment. An example of this is Bar Luce at the Fondazione Prada and the most recent restaurant in the Gallerie d’Italia. Joining the ranks is the delightful Caffè Fernanda, which integrates itself to further complete the ultra-Milanese Pinacoteca Brera.
Small but with a strong visual impact, the newcomer to the Milanese gastro-artistic scene is much more than a bar. Located on the first floor at the end of the museum route, where the old main entrance and, more recently, the bookshop originally stood, Caffè Fernanda looks like a luxury café, where the cozy and welcoming space is offset by the grandeur in design that reminds one of the refined 1950s era. Your attention is immediately caught by the chromatic choice with strong yet well-balanced color combinations, with pink velvet chairs, original marble floors (recovered by Piero Portaluppi), teal blue walls, and a large walnut and brass counter holding an immense painting by Pietro Damini. Caffè Fernanda goes beyond its typical function of serving breakfasts, light lunches and delicious aperitifs. It is an integral and welcomed part of the Pinacoteca.
In addition to Damini’s painting “La conversione del Duca di Aquitania,” while sipping a negroni, you can also admire “The Three Graces” by Bertel Thorvaldsen and the bust of Fernanda Wittgens, from whom the restaurant takes its name. A Milanese visionary, Fernanda Wittgens was not only the first woman to run a museum in 1940s Italy, but also the reason why we can still admire Mantegna’s “Cristo Morto” or Raffaello’s “Lo Sposalizio della Vergine.” After the war and the bombings that devastated Milan and the museum itself, Wittgens was committed to the reconstruction and rennovation of the Pinacoteca, making it the cultural powerhouse that it is today. The Café pays homage to her by telling her story on the pages of the menu.
Caffè Fernanda is a place that not only offers croissants, aperitifs and artistic novelties, yet another intersection between art and food that the Milanese have become accustomed to, but a setting that, more than most, lets the history and art that surrounds it breathe, becoming a refined pit stop and a small yet welcoming meeting point between the beautiful and the good, conferring the international air of elegance that Milan always offers to breathe in.