BEAUTY OF FAITH
Duomo di Milano took 500 years to complete. Original draft of the façade was done by Pellegrino Pellegrini, but was later adapted. The façades, some say, look like the filigree of a fairy-tale tiara.
For a distinguished gentleman, travelling does not have to always be an adventure
STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY
Milan is the fashion capital for
men and women
For a stylish gentleman, travel plans don’t only include where to eat and stay, but also where the best millinery in Milan is, or where to get the best leather products in Florence. On this trip, we take you to Lombardy before visiting Florence in Tuscany. Imagine that this is a trip in which a distinguished gentleman takes his special lady to explore the most romantic cities like Milan and Florence.
Milan is not Italy’s capital city, but it is the hub of fashion, design, and modern luxury. Nothing brings you closer to Milanese design like staying at a stylish hotel like Armani Hotel, built in an austere rationalist building designed in 1937. The hotel is in the shape of an A and is located right at the heart of Milan. The 7th and 8th floors, with their floor-to-ceiling high glass windows, give a breathtaking panoramic view of the Duomo Cathedral. Even if you’re not staying here, its Bamboo Bar and Armani Café are worth visiting. (www.giorgioarmani.it)
DESIGN IN EVERY DETAIL
1. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II has a mesmerising glass and steel covering, which was considered a modern technology in the 19th century.
2. The Mandarin Oriental Milan’s Suite is dedicated to Piero Fornasetti.
3. Although the wait is long, Da Vinci’s The Last Supper is something you should see once in a lifetime.
4. Lake Como is surrounded by beautiful mountains and small villages, as well as magnificent villas. The colour of the water ranges from deep green to dark blue, depending on the lighting.
Not far from it is another chic hotel Mandarin Oriental Milan, designed by Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel of Citterio-Viel & Partners. The hotel recently launched two new suites designed in tribute to two of the city’s design icons, Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti. (www.mandarinoriental.com) But if you want a touch of glamour, BVLGARI Hotel Milano, designed by Citterio-Viel & Partners, is also a popular choice. (www.bulgari.grandluxuryhotels.com)
If you want to shop, Italian style, there are a few places you should check out. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located near the Duomo Cathedral. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the world’s oldest shopping mall and contains exquisite art such as fresco decorations. It’s home to some of the best millineries in town, such as Borsalino.
Villa d’Este is known for its beautiful architecture, amazing landscape and divine food
5. The garden of Villa d’Este at Lake Como is as beautiful as the villa of the same name near Rome.
6. Squid ink pasta and tomato sauce and squid is one of the signature dishes at Villa d’Este.
For luxury brands, visit the Golden Triangle which consists of Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga, Via del Gesù and Via Sant’Andrea. While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Gucci Flagship Store. Massimo Sforza’s first flagship store, Domus Prima, also opened in Milan on Via Monte Napoleone. (www.massimosforza.com)
For food, Nobu Milan is a must, and reservation is strongly recommended. (www.noburestaurants.com/milan/experience) But if you’re in the mood for Milanese food, go to Chef Carlo Cracco’s restaurant Cracco. (www.ristorantecracco.it/) If you want to dine in a garden, go to La Veranda at Four Seasons Hotel Milan. (www.fourseasons.com/) Feeling like splurging a bit? Visit Contraste, where you can enjoy seasonal ingredients and one-of-a-kind presentation. (www.contrastemilano.it/)
The Renaissance vibe can still be felt
in Florence thanks to its architecture.
7. Looking through the window of the Gallerie degli Uffizi on the side facing the Arno River, you can see the famous Pont Vecchio.
8. Michelangelo’s David started simply as a monumental block of Carrara marble, and no matter how many years have passed, the statue still looks timelessly striking.
Milan and Florence are perfect for those who love art
After dinner, go to Teatro Alla Scala to enjoy dazzling performances — opera, ballet, and concert — to wrap up your memorable night.
If you want to see the famous The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci, reserve tickets at www.vivaticket.it at least a month in advance. But if you’re already in Milan, you can try asking the hotel concierge if they can sort it out for you. If you want a peaceful, relaxing experience, visit the beautiful lakes like Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como. For Lake Como, you might want to spend a night at Villa d’Este (www.villadeste.com), a former Renaissance palace with an exquisite view. The “Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este”, the international Concours d’élégance for motor cars, is held around here every September. Its restaurant also offers a majestic view of the beautiful garden.
If you want to try driving the rare Ferrari 458 Italia, Red Travel (www.red-travel.com) will make it happen. Touring Italy by Ferrari on a Red Travel Italia in Ferrari tour takes you to the best places and offers the best experience, with a personal assistant who also doubles as a photographer/guide. Other vintage cars are available from Eurocar Limousine Services. (www.eurocarlimousine.it)
From Milan to Florence, the train ride takes about two hours, while driving may take up to four hours. Florence has a wealth of beautiful arts and crafts, and of course, food.
POWER OF FAITH
9. A beautiful drawing of various plants and flowers is the signature of Florentine art.
10. The Last Judgment in Florence Duomo was a masterpiece of Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.
For a Florentine experience, check in at The St. Regis Florence (www.stregisflorence.com), which is authentically Florentine with a touch of contemporary design. From the room, you can see the view of Pont Vecchio, which takes you back in time to the 18th-19th century. If you want to stay in a real villa, go to Villa Cora (www.villacora.it), which has 45 rooms, all of which are decorated in a Florentine way.
If you are looking for a convenient base, the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze (www.fourseasons.com/florence) is a great choice.Its restaurants are also famous for food and decoration.
Visiting Gallerie degli Uffizi (www.uffizi.com) is a must when you’re in Florence. The line is very long, but perhaps your hotel concierge can help. Once you’re inside Uffizi, make it a point to see The Birth of Venus by Botticelli and The Tribune, an octagonal room commissioned by Francesco I.
Not far from Uffizi is Bargello Museum, which holds the largest collection of Gothic and Renaissance sculptures in Italy. You can also walk to Loggia dei Lanzi where you can see Perseus with the Head of Medusa. Gucci Museum is also in the area, but is temporarily closed now. Fashion fans should go to Salvatore Ferragamo Museum (www.ferragamo.com/museo/it), and if you walk along Via Vacchereccia, you’ll see The Bridge, an old leather shop of Florence.
There are many Michelin star restaurants in Florence, such as Il Palagio at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze at Palazzo della Gherardesca (www.fourseasons.com/florence/dining/restaurants/il_palagio/), Winter Garden by Caino at The St. Regis Florence (www.wintergardenbycaino.com), and La Leggenda dei Frati in Museum Complex of Villa Bardini (www.laleggendadeifrati.it).
Milan and Florence are different, but both are captivating. A trip to the two cities are called “En Route to La Dolce Vita”, as it is an ultimate road trip experience which brings you the best of Italy.