The temperatures were beginning to drop in Europe throughout our trip; from the intense sun of the Greek islands, to the perfect weather in Italy's south and so now we headed further North to the cool of Milano, surrounded by the white-capped Alps. Milan isn't known for its tourism and doesn't have the same history or landmarks as Florence or Rome, but it has something else; fashion! It was no coincidence that we would finish our exploration of Italy in the colder climate of this fashion capital, as I would be forced to buy some winter clothes now!
I don't think this city was called the fashion capital just because it was the birthplace of brands like Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Moschino nor because it now houses the headquarters of 75% of the worlds biggest fashion labels... Just by driving into the city you will instantly realise that every man and woman without exception was born with fashion in their blood; they all just know how to dress! The businessmen look like they just came off a catwalk and then popped into the office and every woman has a beautiful classy coat teamed with a designer heels and bags (one of several I am sure). But I digress, although I could talk about Milan fashion all day, this is a travel blog; and so being in a classy town we had to stay at a classy hotel.
The worlds first 'Bvlgari' hotel was opened in Milan so it was a no-brainer for us to stay there from the moment we heard about it! The entire building, surrounded by botanical gardens in the wealthiest spot of Milan absolutely oozes class. From the reception to the spa, the restaurant and each and every hotel room there is an air of simplistic elegance; admittedly it was not the eccentric opulence I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised! Our suite was decked out with minimalist furniture but with all the bells and whistles of a 5 star hotel and featured a walk-in-robe and large luxurious bathroom. Without a doubt though, the best part of the amazing room was something that is surprisingly often overlooked in a hotel; the bed! The sheets, mattress and pillows were honestly from another world. I mean I normally find it hard to get out of bed in the morning, but this was something else; this bed alone made it well worth the price tag! This hotel had a few other surprises too though; some carbon fibre Bvlgari bicycles for hire to explore the city, a complimentary laundry press service of a few items (because you cannot possibly wear a creased dress in Milan) and they even give you a pack of Bvlgari business cards personalised with your name and the hotel address for you to hand out at shopping boutiques for free delivery of your purchases (for those who don't have Gianni and have to carry around their own bags all day!).
Not that you would have to carry them very far, the hotel is a 2 minute stroll to the heart of the fashion boutiques district in Milan, down my two favourite streets, Via Montenapoleone and Via Della Spiga. These two streets were where most of the big named brands all began as they have housed the best fashion labels for over 100 years and have some of the most expensive rents in the world per square meter! Just walking down these streets makes you feel special; they aren't overcrowded and loud like the Champs Élysées, they are peaceful and elegant. It's as if you are walking through one big fashion show except you are on the catwalk and the models are behind glass windows with very well-dressed security guards. Needless to say, I did some damage and handed out plenty of my Bvlgari business cards!
We continued on to the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle II, which is the oldest shopping mall in the world built in 1865 and to this day (in my opinion) it is still the most beautiful shopping mall in the world. It is a must-see, and not just for the three-storey Louis Vuitton store (although if I ever have the good fortune to have an elevator in my house it will have to be the one from Louis Vuitton)! You also have to take a spin on the bull's testicles for good luck on your way through (yes, it's a thing, look it up!). This gallery was notorious a few years ago for kicking out a very busy McDonalds to replace it with another Prada store - priorities people!
Beside the Galleria is one of the first department stores in Italy which has now been completely revamped called Le Rinascente. This is no ordinary department store though ofcourse, this is Milan, so it has every single big name brand you can think of under the one roof so if you are in a rush you can shop them all at once. We headed for a quick bite to eat at the rooftop food court, seven floors up and there we sat under the heaters. We had a pizza in one hand and with the other we could almost reach out and touch the most incredible building in Milan's skyline, the Duomo! I said Milan didn't have the history or landmarks to match Rome or Florence, perhaps not in number but this building certainly matches them for architecture. It was getting too chilly for me to do a full tour (I hadn't found that perfect coat that I wanted to buy yet) so this was the best and most comfortable way to get the very best view of the amazing architecture and sheer grandeur of this monolithic church.
Back at Bulgari we freshened up, had a nap and went down for dinner at their restaurant. Outside the Moet Chandon bar was full of fashion conscious businessmen enjoying after-work drinks. Inside, the restaurant was exclusive and classy. We sat with our cocktails and began our feast with a rustic bread basket and some little ox-tongue sliders as an appetiser. This was going to be our last dinner in Italy so we ordered a few of our favourites one last time. For first course we tucked into an eggplant parmigiana finished with stracciatella and a simple little spaghetti pomodoro topped with ricotta and orange shavings. For main, Gianni went back to Ischia ordering a stuffed rabbit loin with a veal jus and beautiful accompaniments while I decided to take advantage of the first truffles of the season with a creamy white truffle risotto (you pay by the gram for these little shavings of gold and boy were they generous)! We retreated to our room because we missed the comfort of that bed and there we were served our dessert, a modern tiramisu and petit fours with some other sweet surprises. A relaxing lovely final evening in Italy spent doing what we love; eating!!
The next morning we awoke to a delicious breakfast offering, cooked fresh to order including pancakes, French toast, eggs any which way, fruit, juices, coffee, you name it! It was our final indulgence before heading to the airport for our flight to Kraków in Poland, where we would realise the 'cool' of Milan wasn't actually cold at all!
Special Thanks to: