The Milanese Experience
A must-see for shopaholics, the incomparable Via Montenapoleone and its offshoots are at the heart of the single most fashionable retail acre in the world. Shopping this exclusive "golden triangle" of showcase-studded streets is heaven for those with deep pockets and purgatory for those reduced to window-shopping. The city's tireless preoccupation with fashion, interior design, architecture, and food is showcased in this chic neighborhood--from the sleek boutiques of the high priests and priestesses of la moda italiana to landmark 19th-century tearooms and gourmet food stores. Window displays are either over-the-top extravagant or Zen-like in their simplicity, ditto the stores' interiors--everything is up to the nanosecond in this city that sets the trends and blazes the trail.
Whether you're laden down with designer-labeled acquisitions or just plain exhausted by the day's visual overkill, the only place to park your bags is at Milan's Four Seasons Hotel, a quiet oasis at the very hub of Montenapoleone's shopping strip. The order of nuns that established this former convent in 1450 did not take leave until late 18th century. The cloistered villa as been transformed into a top-class 21st-century hotel--a unique space both calming and luxurious. This means fragments of exposed frescoes, ancient columns, and vaulted ceilings, but also exquisite guest rooms with spacious marbled baths and heated floors, acclaimed restaurants, and the casually elegant lobby (the convent's former chapel) that attracts local Milanesi and hotel guests alike--both a mirror of the city and a haven from it.
Top off a stylish day with dinner at the delightful Aimo e Nadia, located in a nondescript corner of the city. The well-known husband-and-wine owners have been together since their childhood in a village near Tuscany's Lucca, and today they share the cooking and tending of the garden that provides the kitchen's wonderfully fresh and savory ingredients. Much of the daily-changing menu hints of their Tuscan roots, but to dine here is to experience Italian cuisine at its purest and dishes that keep the house full of loyal patrons.
(1000 Places to See Before You Die)”