Eating Like a Local in Milan’s Chinatown

Giulio, an Airbnb community organiser in Milan, wrote us a note about a recent experience he had with many of the great Milan hosts. Walking through the city’s Chinatown has been a great way to discover old traditions and new creative concepts and to share the hosts’ support to local businesses.

Via Paolo Sarpi, il cuore di Chinatown

Last October we had our first merchant walk in Italy. Milan’s hosts chose to explore Chinatown, one of the most interesting quarters in town and a place of successful integration, where milanese and Chinese traditions mixed beautifully. The first Chinese generations moved here in the 1930s and their families are now playing a key role in Milan’s multicultural society.

Pronti all'esplorazione, nonostante la pioggia!

Despite the bad weather, our walk has been very participatory. We enjoyed Antonella’s stories about the area – she was the host organising this meetup and lives nearby – and we really liked tasting some special local food. Here you can find out some local stops. You need to try these places! The shops’ owners were lovely and hosts gave them a “Recommended by Hosts” sticker to show.

First Stop: Scotti Shop, an outlet where they sell only high quality rice. It’s no surprise finding this shop here: Italian Northern regions are very rich in many varieties of this product and rice is a fundamental ingredient of many traditional Chinese recipes. We were welcomed by Stefania, who provided us a 10% discount on purchases. She was very happy to receive the first “recommended by hosts” sticker for the door of her shop.

Second Stop: We visited a Chinese pastry shop, Mr Time. If you are looking for a sweet snack, here you can find a nice selection. The pastry chefs barely speak Italian, but we explained to them that their pastries were very good and that we wanted to put our stickers on their window. They accepted!

Consigliato dagli host

Third Stop: Bubble Tea Shop. This place, especially loved by Milan’s millennials, sells several varieties of bubble tea prepared with tapioca balls and fruit jellies found in Taiwan. Many hosts suggest this shop to their guests try something a little different. The owner was very grateful for our support and asked to be involved again in our Home Sharing Club activities.

Fourth Stop: Macelleria Sirtori. This is an historical butcher shop in via Paolo Sarpi, opened in the 1950s. Epic! They went through all the stages of Chinatown life. They are one of the best renowned butcheries in the entire city. Several local Chinese restaurants serve their meat, in a multicultural partnership which merges local traditions and culinary innovation. This a must-see.

Incontro fra tradizioni

Fifth Stop, nearby Sirtori: the delicious Ravioleria Sarpi. This is one of the most popular street food markets in the neighbourhood. They use Sirtori’s meat to prepare their home made ravioli and crepes. The walls of Ravioleria Sarpi are completely transparent: you can follow step by step the making of these delicacies. Next to the owner Agie, who moved to Italy from Zhejiang when he was just a child, here you can find cooking two ladies from Dongbei (the region of China where these ravioli were created) and one from Italy (“la signora Maria”), a Chinese chef from Hebei and his assistant, from Egypt. It’s a very interesting meeting of stories, cultures and skills put together by Agie and Mr Walter Sirtori. Our hosts were also offered a free tasting of their specialties (stuffing with beef and leek, pork and savoy cabbage or vegetables). Agie declared himself very happy to support home sharing.


Final Stop: Cantine Isola. A classic. We ended our walk in a historical wine house where the hosts could continue to socialize enjoying a glass of Franciacorta. This place is another interesting example of integration, because the owners are Italian, here since 1896, while their sommelier is Chinese. It really felt  like home.  The owners were more than happy to display their “Recommended by Hosts” badge.

This merchant walk was one of my best experiences in community organizing in Milan. Very inspiring! The hosts really appreciated this idea and are eager to repeat it very soon. Not to be missed.

More stories and updates from our community organisers are coming soon. Visit our blog for more updates.


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