My ‘Milano List’ was becoming incumbently long. The note I have been adding to since my last visit, over a year ago, requires two weeks at least, but with just 24 hours to spare, I shall do my best.
I tend to stay faithful to smaller properties, but I have been dreaming of the mosaic bathroom at Principe di Savoia since I first experienced its design perfection. The rooms are large, the beds lush, the decor serene and colorful. My room is ensconced in shades of sea blues; soothing yet cheerful, and especially radiant in the morning sun. The first thing I do upon my early arrival Friday morning is greet my glorious bathroom; it is like seeing a long lost friend after years apart. In my future house, I will copy it precisely; the same tub, shower head, and sliding doors. I say ‘a dopo’ to the beautiful artwork above my bed, (each room has a unique color scheme, fabrics, and design, each with a unique painting above the letto), and I am off to the much talked about, much photographed Fondazione Prada.
Christine, a New York-ese photographer currently living in Milano, has graciously agreed to accompany me on my Milano jaunt. We walk through the installations but are more enlivened by the shadows in the stark, industrial rooms, the clever lighting and the glowing gold wall. Fondazione Prada has been in operation since the early 1990s, but its permanent venue in Largo Isarco is new and seriously underlines Milano’s reputation as an industrial city. Formerly a distillery, the complex remains true to its spatial roots. For photographers who appreciate recovered warehouses, a “Haunted House” covered in 24 carat gold foil, and a Wes Anderson designed cafe lined with jars of candy, retro games, and bubblegum colors, Fondazione Prada offers plentiful photo ops. The cafe is described as a throwback to old Milanese cafes, but if you ask me, the original Marchesi near Magenta is what comes to mind when I hear ‘classic Milanese cafe.’ Bar Luce is The Royal Tenenbaums meets Grease Lightening.
Gold wall photo by Christine Davis
From Miuccia’s industrial micro-village, we take a stroll through the Cinque Via in the Magenta area, in search of vintage shoes and funky retro dresses. Lunch is nearby at Spazio, a new restaurant on the 3rd floor of the Galleria with views of the Duomo. Spazio takes recently graduated culinary students from the highly reputable Niko Romito cooking school in Abruzzo and allows them to spend two months running the kitchen and deciding the menu. The space is filled with light streaming in from the Piazza del Duomo, and with a tree growing in the middle of the dining room, the aura is as fresh and light as the cooking style. The concept is novel; even the waiters are on rotation from the kitchen; each graduate shares in the running of the restaurant, and each is friendlier and more charming than the next.
Christine and I greet Spring in Lombardia with a bowl of green vegetables and artichoke hearts in a green apple broth, handmade seafood cappelletti in a langoustine broth, Niko Romito’s famous tagliatelle with lemon, mint and pepper, and lightly smoked mackerel with radish. Christine asks me what I would like to share for dessert, but after such a beautiful meal, I think there is only one way to approach dolcezza: order two. Cremoso di mandorle, gel di limone, e frolla integrale salate is the perfect balance between decadence and purity. The lemon gel is hidden underneath the almond cream, a thick mousse that I feel compelled to devour. Cioccolato, limone, e panna is a creative twist on traditional panna cotta. Both are divine. We are the last ones in the restaurant; lingering as long as we can with our endearing waiter and the flavors of the afternoon.
A post-lunch walk is in order. We stroll under the Magnolia trees, now in full bloom, and wander back towards Corso Magenta, past the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio where afternoon shadows beckon Christina’s photographic eye.
To be ctd…