The serious business deal faces, polished shoes, heels, loosened evening ties, weekend fun just around the corner, fingers tracing routes on tourist maps, long fashion-week legs: postcards from Milan.
Even with my eyes shut, I can imagine it all, because I know what it sounds like. In my mind, I know how this city breathes: I have welcomed her inside these four walls for so long that she no longer hides any secrets from me. She talks and transforms and I listen; I talk and transform and she listens. We move to the same beat.
Where Milan’s heart beats
It matters not if today I am all dressed in black and orange, with the lopsided smile of this counter that seems to explode in its lightness and a name and surname ready for the new millennium: Terrazza Aperol. I have had Milan’s heart beating in my ear for almost a century, I know this city’s moods and desires, I hear her laugh and grumble, day after day.
11.00 am: the day starts
There are the quick, sharp morning words, those that remain trapped inside business commitments or wrapped up in visiting appointments. There are the ones for projects, the “can dos” and “let’s go sees” - they all end up swimming in coffee or soft drinks, while outside the Duomo has the white skin of those who still haven’t seen the daylight.
1.00 pm, around the table
Symphonic cutlery. Before lunch, some leave it beside their plate, while others cannot resist the temptation to tap fork against knife or both against the edge of the plate as they wait for lunch, in an overlapping of stories from hours past and the “I’m going to” promises that already contemplate the evening. Only just wound up, this ball of voices is already ready to be unwound: it draws a breath in readiness for the race when lunch arrives. The moment of real silence occurs as the clients’ eyes rush to savour the dishes brought to their table.
6.00 pm, when the Duomo gets dressed up for the evening
By now I know, when I feel the darkness descend I can be certain that – just outside – the Duomo is all dressed up for the evening, its eyes shining out over a square crossed by people carrying shopping bags or a briefcase, on their way home. I can feel the evening. It is like a wave: it starts with a tête-a-tête over a drink or two at a table there at the back (a newly formed couple), then glass against glass, it moves to the middle, bounces off the bar and infects everyone present. “To our very good health”, they say. “Cheers”, they say. And waiters quicken their pace; I hear their feet move faster on the tiles. And they ask for “Spritzes” at the bar, then off towards the tables again: drinks in one hand, a plate filled with tapas in the other. Then the scene fills with laughter: explosions of cheer in all four corners.
8.00 pm, the guitar shouts out
The first guitar chord is always a shout: everything goes silent for a moment, attention turned towards the stage. “What a fabulous voice”. “She sounds like Amy Winehouse”. “Makes me want to dance” – all spontaneous comments, all at once. I take a deep breath, and drink in the enraptured eyes of the singer, feet beating time to the music, the drummer’s nimble disentangling of the rhythm. From Negroni to beer, everyone has their own special way of responding to the music.
10.00 pm, the sound of seduction
It is an irresistible game of seduction. With the music as its gentle companion, Piazza del Duomo puts on its evening gown. The orange lights I shine to set the mood finally forget their job: among the tables there is a hint of tomorrow or what is about to happen in just a few minutes. Love? Yes, there is talk of love, but I cannot reveal all. Panettone, the Last Supper, the climb up to the spires of the Duomo, your reflection in a shop window, the orange flash of a passing tram, a longer step than usual, the streets sewn around Brera, the self-satisfied façade of the Scala: postcards from Milan. But in order to listen to Milan, you need to go where she speaks. On the Terrazza Aperol, with me, for example.
Housed inside the Duomo Store Autogrill since summer 2012, the Terrazza Aperol is the result of a partnership between Autogrill and Campari that aimed to create a new point of reference for aperitifs in Milan.
With its innovative layout and furnishings, studied by designer Antonio Piciulo, it has become a go-to location for the lively, dynamic, eclectic, international clientele living in the centre of the Lombardy capital.
Terrazza Aperol is also a showcase for events and cultural happenings featuring live music performances by great artists from the international scene such as Bastille, Ed Sheeran, Jutty Ranx, Ace Wilder and other famous names from Italian radio and TV. Thanks to collaboration with Affordable Art Fair, it also periodically hosts inaugurations and exhibitions of contemporary Art.
This location is known for its aperitifs (cocktails and a new concept of the Milan happy hour with a tapas bar slant) rounded out by food in the restaurant, Sunday brunch and evening events.