ALTERNATIVE ITALY: Most travelers are more attracted to Rome’s history, Florence’s art and cuisine, or Venice’s romantic canals than to Milan’s financial district; being Italy’s economic heart doesn’t book as many travel packages. Many foreigners visit Milan for business rather than pleasure. But Milan is undoubtedly the center of chic, with its many fashion houses and unrivaled shopping. And Milan has more than enough treasures for art and architecture enthusiasts to appreciate.
SLEEP CHIC: Your home away from home in Milan should be Hotel Principe di Savoia, a recently renovated cosmopolitan hotel housed in a landmark neoclassical building. Every inch exudes elegance and refinement, down to the hand-painted room numbers on each floor—precisely the ambience required for your stay in this sexy city. Ask for a Deluxe Mosaic room, a playful mix of old-world style and contemporary touches, including the beautiful namesake mosaic in the shower. During your stay, a meal at Acanto Restaurant, run by the charming Raffaele Longo, is a must. Strings of pasta tossed with langoustine and lemon were perfect and light, and a fillet of veal topped with freshly sliced truffles was as tender and buttery as filet mignon. Portions were just right to save room for a plate of Italian cheeses served with raisin bread, honey, and jams. If you must exercise during your stay, you can do your cardio while overlooking the city from the 10th-floor fitness center. But we think the only reason to go up there might be for a hot oil and salt massage. In spite of all of these indulgences, our favorite part of a stay at Hotel Principe di Savoia is the complimentary limo service that runs between the hotel and the city’s major sights. It makes a day of sightseeing and shopping even more pleasurable.
SIGHTS TO SEE: Most of the activity centers around the Gothic Duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. With its 135 marble spires and more than 2,200 marble sculptures, magnificent doesn’t even begin to describe it. Also on the Piazza del Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the glass-topped, barrel-vaulted shopping center that connects the Duomo with La Scala, Milan’s famous opera house. At the Galleria you can shop Italy’s top brands, such as Prada; rest your weary feet at a cafe; or do as the tourists do and find the bull in the floor mosaics and take a spin on his not-so private parts. (It’s rumored to bring good luck.) Also here in Milan is Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, at the modest Santa Maria delle Grazie. Reservations are required to view this famous fresco (purchase tickets at www.tickitaly.com/tickets/last-supper-tickets.php), and you must reserve your 15-minute time slot well in advance of your visit.
BUON APPETITO: We received two excellent dining recommendations from the Principe concierges. The first, Il Salumaio (12 via Montenapoleonata), is tucked inside a courtyard at the end of what looks like a private drive. If you didn’t know exactly where to go, you most certainly would miss it. Grab a tiny table on the patio among beautiful flowering trees and settle in for a simple yet delicious lunch of caprese, gnocchi alla quattro formaggio, and tortelloni with rucola e ricotta. Not surprisingly, the mostly local patrons are decked out in expensive designer sunglasses and handbags, and they’re carrying shopping bags filled with purchases from nearby boutiques such at Etro, Sergio Rossi, Prada, and Gucci. A short walk from the hotel is the 100-year-old Ristorante Solferino (2 Via Castelfidardo), which the concierge described as “casual with very good quality food.” We started with pumpkin ravioli in brown butter and sage, followed by shrimp with artichokes and classic veal Milanese: pan-fried veal cutlet topped with arugula and quartered cherry tomatoes. A complimentary plate of shortbread and pralines was just the right finish.
WHERE TO STAY:
Hotel Principe di Savoia
Piazza della Repubblica 17
20124 Milan, Italy
Rates: from $367
HOW TO GET THERE:
American Airlines flies daily to Milan International Airport (MXP), with connections in cities such as Washington, D.C., New York, or London. Hotel Principe di Savoia can arrange airport transfer (from $176), or you can take a taxi from the airport to the hotel.
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It was called D Magazine, and it boasted great deals on couture brands. How could we resist?
After a beautiful lunch at Il Salumaio, we continued to walk up via Montenapoleone, if only to window shop. Via Montenapoleone is an important street in Milan’s fashion district, and there you’ll see every high fashion line imaginable (Prada, Gucci, Versace, Etro, Alberta Ferretti), plus a few other fun labels, like Swatch. We were tickled when we saw the D Magazine Outlet (26 Via Montenapoleone and 13 Via Forcella)—not only for the name, but also for the many deals to be had. The racks are labeled by designer, so it’s easy to spot, say, Lanvin or John Galliano amid the madness. Despite the rummaging that most certainly occurs here, the displays are surprisingly uncluttered, although the shoe shelves looked a bit ransacked. If only I had little feet! Then I could have gone home with beautiful blue Lanvin peep-toe sling-backs with bow detail for $345 (original price: $672) or Miu Miu multicolor snakeskin sandals for $395 (original price: $807). We also spied a cropped orange leather jacket by Gucci for $1,540 (original price: $3,345) and a pretty Prada floral dress for $653 (original price: $1,760).