Casa Titta

Casa Titta, Milan

Our taxi dropped us at one end of a dark one-way residential street just an 8 euro journey from Milan’s Garibaldi station where our train from Paris had arrived. I was looking for a street-level sign that might signal our Chic Retreats destination B&B Casa Titta, but I couldn’t see anything. I called to my husband that perhaps we were on the wrong road, but when I crossed to the gate of a 1930s apartment block that makes 21 Via Giulio Belinzaghi, I saw there was a buzzer with the name Casa Titta in pretty colourful lettering. The bell was answered immediately by a warm voice welcoming me in English and inviting us up to the third floor. Our luggage was contained in the beautiful old wooden elevator and we were greeted on our exit by the smiling face of the elegant owner Domitilla. While the street view was unpromising, the first impressions of the elegant high-ceilinged apartment were exhilarating. It was like being welcomed into this former lawyer’s private home (she actually lives upstairs) rather than a boutique hotel. Domitilla told me later that the wonderful antique furniture that is thoughtfully matched with modern wallpaper and painted canvases actually belonged to her grandmother – the Titta of Casa Titta and that the four-bedroomed apartment was purchased with the help of the old lady’s inheritance as a way of giving the old items, including antique linens, a place to live. There are three double rooms and a delightful single, all elegantly furnished with a mix of old and new and all with fabulous wooden parquet floors. A small communal area provides a nespresso coffee maker a kettle with selection of twining tea and a fridge stocked with juices, yoghurts, butter and jam and aperitifs.

Before we crossed the road to the busy neighbourhood pizzeria for supper we were invited to join Domitilla for a Campari during which she answered our questions about Milan and the neighbourhood and told us of her fascinating work as director of a small charity that builds wells in Mali, which 10% of our room rate was going to support. This African influence can be seen in the ornaments that decorate the comfortable living area that is used for breakfast and to greet guests. Next morning after a breakfast of fresh fruit salad, homemade bread and chocolate cake we were taken up to the roof to see the terrace and hear her plans to create a relaxing terrace for guests to take breakfast in the summer months. The sun trap is a rare provision in Milan and from the roof you can see south to the new skyscrapers of Puerto Nuova, the new business district that has been created near Garibaldi station.

The Neighbourhood

This delightful B&B is located in an area called Isola, an area which is fast becoming gentrified since the building of Puerto Nuova. A short stroll along nearby Via Luigi Federico Menabrea are a number of restaurants serving a range of cuisines from the traditional gnocchi, risotto and pasta dishes to one of the best sushi restaurants In The city. Continue in a straight line and you can walk through Puerto Nuova and into the old part of the city finishing your walk at the spectacular Duomo in the centre. From here it is just a single metro journey back to Maciachini from where it is just a five minute stroll back to Casa Titta.

With Expo 2015 taking over the city from May until October, there has been no better time to visit Milan, and Cassa Titta will let you experience it in style.

Antonia Windsor, 2015

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.