MILAN DESIGNER CAPITAL
Milan Designer Capital - Luxury Travel Magazine
Milan Designer Capital
|By: Jane Gifford, Issue 47 – Winter 2011|
|MILAN MAY PLAY SECOND FIDDLE TO THE MORE GLAMOROUS CITIES OF ROME, FLORENCE AND VENICE, BUT JANE GIFFORD DISCOVERED AN ELEGANT AND SOPHISTICATED CITY WHICH IS THE HUB FOR MUCH OF ITALY'S FASHION AND DESIGN INNOVATION.|
While, at first glance, the architecture in Milan tends to make the city seem drab and less appealing than say, Rome or Florence, its many riches are worth discovering. Milan is famous for shopping. Designer boutiques line Via Montenapoleone and the web of streets that make up the fashion district. Here too is G. Lorenzi, a shop with cult status specialising in vintage and new gentlemen’s grooming accoutrements.
Of shopping and architectural significance in this area is the grand late 19th century glass-domed arcade Vittorio Emanuele Gallery, where the original Prada boutique (with its original fittings) is one of the long-standing tenants. Another, Caffé Campari, has been a popular Milanese meeting spot since it opened in the 1860s and is perfectly positioned for refreshments before tackling nearby La Rinascente, an upscale department store with a sizeable Design Supermarket on the lower ground floor where hundreds of objects, from glassware to electronics, showcase the latest and greatest in design from all over the world. The store’s rooftop café, Maio, offers delicious food and impressive close-up views of the Duomo’s exterior detailing.
Elsewhere of note are Galleria Colombari and Galleria MK, haunts for collectors seeking coveted 20th century design objects. At 10 Corso Como a stylish mix of fashion, books, music and accessories is artfully displayed in a series of spaces that wrap around the leafy courtyard of an old industrial building. A gallery, restaurant, café and three chic hotel rooms complete the complex, founded by trend-setter Carla Sozzani around two decades ago. Fashionista bargain hunters can also add the Serraville Designer Outlet centre, about an hour’s drive from the city, to their shopping itineraries.
If you’re in Milan to shop, you wouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit its cultural highlights too, including the majestic Duomo, the third largest church in the world, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper (1494-98), painted high on a wall in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie church. An impressive collection of masterpieces by the country’s most important artists from the 13th to the 20th centuries, such as Raphael and Caravaggio, can be viewed at the Brera Art Gallery. Sforza Castle, which dates from the 14th century, houses several museums, the Picture Gallery, Museum of Decorative Arts and Museum of Musical Instruments, among them. Michelangelo’s last and unfinished work, Rondanini Pieta, is in the Museum of Ancient Art here. The Triennale Design Museum, established in 2007 and located a short walk away through the park, as well as the studio museum of famed Italian designer Achille Castiglione, are musts for anyone with an interest in design.
For entertainment, there’s opera and ballet at one of the world’s finest opera houses, La Scala Theatre, and in the charming adjacent museum Giuseppe Verdi’s death mask is among the myriad of curiosities, costumes and artworks on display. Sports fans can indulge in expeditions to the historic Monza race track for Formula One events and legendary San Siro stadium for soccer, at various times of the year.
Outstanding Italian cuisine is, of course, another excellent reason to linger in Milan. In particular, fine dining can be enjoyed at Acanto at the Hotel Principe di Savoia, pizza without hordes of tourists at Pizzeria Fabbrica on Viale Pasubio and creamy gelato in myriad flavours, at Grom near the Piazza Duomo. The best advice any visitor to Milan can be given is to walk throughout the city so that you can peek at life in the lush and lovely courtyards hidden behind the bland palazzo facades.
|British Airways operates nine direct flights from London to Milan return daily. Return Club World fares from Sydney to London via Bangkok start at A$8,700 and economy at A$2,727. Return Club World fares from London to Milan start at A$728 and economy at A$198.|
|WHERE TO STAY|
|HOTEL PRINCIPE DI SAVOIA|
Piazza della Repubblica 17
A landmark glamorous hotel since the 1920s, with a neo-classical façade, and classic modern Italian décor throughout. Madonna, George Clooney and David Beckham are celebrity guests who’ve checked in lately and the hotel’s glamorous Principe Bar remains the place to be after dinner. Hotel amenities include Acqua di Parma products, the latest hi-tech gadgetry in rooms, a roof top spa (Club 10) with outdoor terrace and swimming pool, and a complimentary limousine service to the city centre.
RECOMMENDED ROOM NUMBERS: the spacious Mosaic rooms and Principe Suites recently refurbished by Francesca Basu, the Imperial Suites, the two-bedroom Royal suite and the Presidential Suite which is known as the “pearl of Italian hotels”.
RATES: Rooms from EUR228 (about A$305) and suites from EUR595 (about A$797) per night. Imperial Suite from EUR6,500 (about A$8,708) per night.
|WHEN TO GO|
|Anytime except August, when much in the city closes down for a summer break of at least three weeks. Experience the hoopla of Fashion Weeks in|
March and September and the International Furniture Fair (Salone Internzionale di Mobili) in May (actual dates of these events vary from year to year).
|WHERE TO SHOP|
|bordered by Via Sant’Andrea, Via della Spiga, Via Gesu, Via Montenapoleone.|
Via Montenapoleone, 9
|VITTORIO EMANUELE GALLERY|
Via Maroncelli 10
Via Maroncelli 2
|10 CORSO COMO|
Corso Como 10
|SERRAVALLE DESIGNER OUTLET|
Via della Moda 1, Serravalle
|WHAT TO DO|
|VISIT THE DUOMO|
VISIT THE LAST SUPPER
Santa Maria della Grazie Church. Advance booking required. Ask your travel agent or hotel concierge.
|BRERA ART GALLERY|
|THE TRIENNALE DESIGN MUSEUM|
|ACHILLE CASTIGLIONI STUDIO MUSEUM|
Advance bookings required
|LA SCALA THEATRE|
|MONZA (MOTOR SPORT RACE TRACK)|
|SAN SIRO STADIUM|