In Milan, the buzz is all about fashion and design, music and art, and museums that combine them all. The fashion district, Il Quadrilatero d’Oro (the golden square) is home to almost every designer on the planet. In Milan, summer sales run from July 2 through August 30 and, since many local residents go on vacation in August, this leaves more discounted goodies for the tourists. Context Travel, whose tour guides include fashionistas, offers a three-hour fashion walking tour, which includes a designer itinerary. Dedicated followers of fashion should also note that the next Milan Fashion Week is slated for February 21 to 27, 2018.
Among the hot neighborhoods, Brera is home to art galleries, jewelry stores and unique antique shops and clothing stores. Some say it resembles Paris’ Montmartre neighborhood, with its lively nightlife. Via Brera and Via Solferino are the best shopping streets. The latter is the site of the twice-a-week upscale outdoor market in San Marco Square. Stop at Fioraio Bianchi Caffè (Via Montebello 7) for a break from shopping. A must-see is the Pinacoteca di Brera, home to more than 500 works of art from the Renaissance through the 20th century.
Where to eat? Daniel Milano serves contemporary Italian cuisine, created by Chef Daniel Canzian, at the corner of Via san Marco and Castelfidardo. Ristorante Giacomo Bistrot at Via Pasquale Sottocorno 6 is styled to recall an early 1900s trattoria. A century-old favorite of Milanese in Brera is Ristorante Solferino, via Castelfidardo 2. And, there is 10 Corso Como, a restaurant and café with a terrace and garden at Corso Como 10. For French and Italian food near the opera theater, there’s Trussardi alla Scala at Piazza della Scala 5.
Milan hotels reflect the city’s design inspiration: the Armani Hotel Milano, Via Alessandro Manzoni, 3; the Bulgari Hotel, Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7b; and the TownHouse Galleria hotel within the famous Galleria shopping center are a few examples of this. In the center of the fashion district, the Four Seasons Milano, Via Gesu 6/8 is an oasis in the city.
The brand new Hotel VIU Milan, Via Aristotile Fioravanti 6, is draped in living greenery, creating a vertical garden. The hotel offers onsite Tesla cars and a personal shopper service. For foodies, Michelin-star Chef Giancarlo Morelli whips up authentic Milanese dishes at his self-titled restaurant there. He also prepares the cuisine served at the property’s Bulk Restaurant, Mixology Lounge Garden Bar and Rooftop Terrace Bar.
The glacial lakes near Milan — Como, Maggiore and Garda — draw visitors from around the world. A nice way to spend a day is taking the ferry around Lake Como, getting on and off at villages that strike your fancy. One can pick up the ferry almost anywhere on the lake.
For a memorable experience on Lake Como, there is the elegant Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Via Roma 1 in Bellagio; the Hotel Villa d’Este with its vast gardens, on Via Regina 40 in Cernobbio; or the chic and contemporary Il Sereno Lago di Como, Via Torrazza 10, in Torno. Also, the 18th-century Villa Sola Cabiati is now open exclusively to guests of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo.
Ernest Hemingway and George Bernard Shaw fell in love with a 12-room hotel on an island in Lake Maggiore: the Hotel Verbano at Via Ugo Ara 2 on Isola dei Pescatori, Stresa. Reached only by boat from towns around the lake, the hotel has views of Maggiore from every room. Dating to 1863, the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees, Corso Umberto I 67, Stresa, is a sumptuous lakeshore property surrounded on three sides by trees and gardens.
In warm weather, Lake Garda can be crowded, so those in the know go to Gargnano, a town on the Riviera dei Limoni (Lemon Coast), where the Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli at Parco dell’Alto Garda Bresciano, Via Rimembranza, 38, rules the lake in quiet splendor. Lefay Resort & Spa, Via Angelo Feltrinelli 136, Gargnano, provides sustainable luxury, with natural light and floor-to-ceiling windows.