44(ish) Hours in Milan
Milan has always been a pit stop on our way somewhere, to visit friends or to do and see a few things. The more we go the more we love it and appreciate all it has to offer, and it truly has a lot of our boxes checked: Great food, art, design and style. It’s a great city to catch your breath and rest after a long flight or prior to heading out for an adventure. We love the pace of the city, it’s busy but not hectic and manageable to get around if you plan.
We flew into Milan to begin one of our trips and we stay for a brief 44 (ish) hours. There is so much to see but we had to prioritize. We rented a car at Malpensa airport, our car rental agent directed us to exit the terminal and to cross “the zebra stripe walk” (crosswalk) to pick up our car. From that moment we realized we were in a foreign country and our journey had begun!
Driving in foreign cities is always a challenge but thank goodness for the google maps that we printed out and cross-referencing with google maps on our phone. Since we did not really need our car during our stay in Milan, we did look into picking one up in the city but there were not many options, and we did not want to waste precious time dealing with that during a short stay in the city. Thus, we opted to rent at the airport .
After a few wrong turns and circling around we arrived at the Excelsior Hotel Gallia . We checked in, had time to freshen up and meet friends in the bar for a drink before heading out to dinner. Since it was a big travel day (one never knows how the journey will go) we chose to have a nice but low key dinner. Torre is the latest addition to the Fondazione Prada located in the Largo Isarco area of Milan. The restaurant and bar are designed in a comfortable classic modern style with Saarinen furnishings and an impressive art collection that hangs throughout the space. The dining room is open yet intimate with seating for 84 people. Our meal was good: Traditional classics with a subtle modern twist to make it just interesting enough not to be average. Since the restaurant opened about a month before, the patrons were more stylish Milanese rather than tourist and that reminded our jet-lagged minds that we were in Italy.
After a good night's sleep, we woke up to plan our day over an amazing breakfast buffet and cappuccinos in our hotel.
If you love architecture and fashion, you’ll appreciate our 1st stop - Armani Silos - a multi-level, 4,500-square-meter space filled with art and Armani creations. Armani opened this site at 40 Bergognone in 2015 to mark 40 years of his career. The Tadao Ando-designed architecture and interiors are much like the designers work, muted palette, graceful and complex in its minimalism through plays on volume, light and transparency. Ando and Armani are truly a perfect pair when it comes to aesthetic vision. The building site was originally grain silos, hence the name “silos”, and built in the 1950s.
The designer’s creations including 400 outfits and 200 accessories from Giorgio Armani’s ready-to-wear collections from 1980 to the present, is a feast for the eyes. You can get up very close to see the level of detail in each piece. There’s an art gallery on the entry level which features a permanent collection by Paolo Ventura. We wandered around this exhibit for quite some time as there are many rooms. Moving up to the 1st floor, 2nd and 3rd, you’ll find the Armani collections organized by theme rather than year.
Corso Como and Montenapoleone
It has been years since our first visit, but we wanted to see the evolution of Corso Como. Back in the day, it was a one-of-a-kind boutique loaded with great stuff. It remains a concept shop where editorial/curatorial choices of food, fashion, music, art and lifestyle come together for the visitor and customer’s viewing and buying pleasure. The Corso Como’s old world, overgrown courtyard sits in contrast to the elegant retail around it.
If you like fashion and you like to shop (even if it’s just a little), chances are you will find something around Montenapoleone. It is the golden triangle of luxury shopping. After all, you are in Italy and great fashion comes from this country. Meandering through the streets you’ll find quaint storefronts which are almost unassuming, i.e, not big and glossy like the American stores.
It was a long and warm day so back to the hotel to freshen up and enjoy a leisurely cocktail in the hotel lounge bar. The bar snacks were awesome, almost more appetizer than snacks, and trust me when I say we know bar snacks. That night’s dinner was at Contraste Ristorante. The Uruguayan chef Matias Perdomo (formerly of Al Pont de Ferr) planted his roots in a residential building that has dining areas that maintain the feeling of being in a home. Chef Perdomo draws inspiration from Ferran Adria and the Roca brothers to create his original presentations.
The dining room and menu were a prediction of the surprises that were to come as courses. The dining room is white with bright red whimsical chandeliers contrasting the elegance of the super-white tables and chairs. The menu opens with a mirror which is the way of the chef to say that you can have a dinner custom to you (we didn’t choose this b/c the number of courses was a lot). Everyone in our party opted for the set menu options which were fantastic. A particular favorite was the Bolognese “donut.” One dessert, Pablo Escobar, was both entertaining and beyond delicious. It was so much fun but the taste was heavenly (nice contrast between visual and taste).
The restaurant really describes itself best:
”You have to take in count that our dishes, born from the contrast, never tell a single story: we play with the form and matter, we reinterpret the tradition with respect, and we innovate with decision, pleasure and precision. It is true that images can be seen, but it is better not trust in excess in your eyes.”
After our culinary night in Milano and a good night sleep we started our day at the breakfast buffet….. after all breakfast is the most important meal of the day! We chose to wrap things up at the hotel and take a quick shopping run before leaving the city of style and fashion. We power-shopped and headed out for our next chapter.