Seeped in history and ever faithful to its traditions, Pasticceria Marchesi has long been distinguished as one of Milan’s most iconic cafes. Founded 191 years ago in the same location in which it continues to operate today, the tale of this landmark venue is one of tradition triumphing over trend. It is a story of classicism guided by the beguiling hand of creativity. And it is ultimately an expression of the effortless marriage between Italy’s obsession with food and its great capacity for artisanal excellence.
The roots of this storied brand begin in 1824 when a small pastry shop opened inside an elegant 18th century building in a discreet, upscale neighborhood in Milan. The shop quietly and diligently went about its singular business of confections until the early 1900s when Angelo Marchesi expanded its services to that of a proper bar serving coffee, refreshments and early evening cocktails in addition to its freshly baked pastries, cakes, cookies and candies.
Over the years, the café has remained dedicated to its time-honored traditions and hand-made production. Today, the same café in Via Santa Maria alla Porta, 11/a is managed by Angelo Marchesi’s grandson (also named Angelo) together with his wife and two children.
The family runs the business according to the café’s original principles, retaining its unique heritage while pushing it forward toward contemporary relevance. Under their stewardship, Marchesi has blossomed into a commercial and creative success, and it continues to be an esteemed destination for Milan’s tastemakers who come to swirl espresso at the antique bar or pick up special sweets for an important event or gift.
The shop’s 18th century façade is covered with ornate incisions and features thematic windows whose fantasy-driven food content often resembles an art installation.
Passer-bys have long been lured into the shop by these enchanting windows where they are greeted with a paradise of sweets. Shelves and tables are lined with colorful sugar-coated candies wrapped up in custom-designed boxes with bright ribbons color coordinated to indicate different ingredients.
In March 2014 Prada acquired 80% of Marchesi. As two brands that are deeply Milanese in heart, Prada and Marchesi aim to preserve the pastry shop’s historic mores while expanding its celebrated imprint. Angelo Marchesi continues to run the company as Managing Director. He also plays a strategic role in the opening of the new location as the repository of a long-standing tradition of excellence for which Marchesi is known. The second shop opened on Milan’s Via Monte Napoleone in September 2015 and a third venue inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade in September 2016.
Now, almost 200 years old, Marchesi is as lively as ever. A faithful clientele of locals is always found crowded around its animated bar at breakfast, at lunch for a quick panino or at the end of the day for its signature cocktails. With full respect of its traditions and history, Prada intends to seal Marchesi’s fate as much more than a mere café. It has become an “institution” in the city of Milan, a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike, and above all, a clear reminder of what is excellent about Italy’s past and what is bright about its future.