The arrival of spring this year has given us Milanese warm and sunny days, and today I have chosen to travel with public transportation. I am in the area of Corso Magenta when my gaze is attracted to a mirage: on the corner of via Santa Maria alla Porta, is the Pasticceria Marchesi, one of the historic landmarks of old time Milan, so I decide to enter and order a chilled, shaker coffee.
As soon as I cross the threshold it feels like I’ve been catapulted into another era: the decorated coffered ceiling, the display windows full of tarts, pralines, colorful bonbons and pastries of every kind carefully placed in order and the counter of the early twentieth century – in wood and steel with brass details – quickly remind me that I’m not in just any ordinary patisserie.
This is Milan’s Bakery where, since 1824, one of the cities best ‘panettone‘ is made, where Fausto Coppi’s victories were celebrated, where courtesy is not optional but an integral part of the atmosphere “of times gone by” that you can feel in the air (the staff dressed in blue and the waiters in elegant suits are a big part of that).
I bet Strehler and Giorgio Gaber used to come here for breakfast and I can almost see them mixing with the upper class Milanese clients. Now I understand why a group like Prada (already owner of Prada, Miu Miu, Church’s and Car Shoes brands) bought a significant part of the business in order to export the trademark, leaving the direct management in the hands of the capable Marchesi family.
The chilled coffee is excellent and perfectly sweet, I would love to try all of the sweets on display but I promise myself to come back. Maybe one morning in fall or a Sunday to buy a panettone, that the bakery sells 365 days a year, maybe just for breakfast to give myself a cuddle, a little extra attention, a trip of the senses into a day in the life of Milan.
Because while it’s true that Milan is a city in constant evolution, it is able to maintain and conserve its historic places over time.