Spend enough time in Italy and every traveler eventually hits that moment when they need a break from the assault of Renaissance painting, historic buildings, and picturesque piazzas. Visitors traipsing through Milan, the northern cultural capital, will find no cooler place to enjoy a respite than Terrazza Aperol, home of the classic orange-colored, bittersweet aperitif.
Terraza Aperol is no ordinary bar in the American sense – how many watering holes have you visited that overlook anything as breathtaking as the Piazza del Duomo, home of Milan’s spectacular neo-Gothic cathedral? Located in a wing of Milan’s massive Passagio, the town’s historic shopping arcade, you enter by taking the stairs (or, for the truly exhausted, an elevator) to the second floor. Dominated by a curvy orange bar, an homage to the aperitif’s light color, the Art Deco interior has walls lined with bottles of the signature drink; the effect is a little like ‘The Great Gatsby’ meets ‘Austin Powers.’ Visits in fair weather are best spent lazily sipping it on the outdoor terrace, under Aperol-orange tinted umbrellas, of course.
Take your Aperol straight, with a spritz of soda water, or in one of the many combinations that dance off the menu (all 12 euros, or about $17): Aperol Eros livens up the experience with a slice of Sicilian blood orange. Any order of the classic drink brings you light munchies, though a food menu is available, too, for more substantial offerings.
And don’t worry about being crowded out by the tourist throngs who take over the Piazza every day. Aperol may be right above the action, but a discriminating door policy keeps out the unwashed. So dress the part to get past the velvet rope blocking the door and you’ll be free to mix it up with a fair number of hip locals. If you pass the test, one of the young, head-to-toe, black-clad waiters will happily wave you in. If not, take it as a sign that you need to head up to the uber-chic Via Montenapoleone shopping street to upgrade your wardrobe. [Terrazza Aperol, Piazza del Duomo at the corner of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, second floor; +39 02 86331959]