Designing Milan

I’m in one of my favorite cities, Milan, Italy, where it’s full-on spring and the fashion billboards are in bloom. The Milanese are still wearing black and gray, but the occasional jolt of yellow gloves or fuchsia shoes signals a warming trend.

Ever heard of a mozzarella tasting? Try Obika, where Italy’s iconic cheese is served in a palate-bending array of flavors and textures. From soft and gooey to smoked and squeaky, Obika is a revelation from start to finish.

Milan’s soaring glass dome, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, is a great starting point for exploring Italian fashion and yes, cocktail culture. Try a “spritz” at Biffi bar where Aperol or Campari is brightened with bubbly Prosecco and a slice of orange. This red menace is served with plates of hearty bruschette, salume, and the ubiquitous cone of chips. Milan’s upscale effervescence is at its best under the glass of the incomparable Galleria.

Milan is a city of neighborhoods and Brera is one of its sweetest, with galleries, boutiques and antique shops around every corner. We stumble onto an outstanding meal at La Torre di Pisa, an old-fashioned trattoria with rustic anchovies in olive oil with butter, robust steak, and a veal-wrapped mozzarella smothered in roasted artichokes that is simply succulent. La dolce vita reigns with a romantic stroll down Brera’s cobblestone streets.

Another trendy spot is Navigli, a bohemian neighborhood along the canal. We savor a glass of Prosecco at the brand-new Sofa bar surrounded by Italian poetry and verse – nice. Navigli’s legendary flea market offers everything from funky felt dresses to smoking paraphernalia. Canal-side boutiques are the essence of cool, like Mauro Bolognesi’s mid-century Danish-modern teak furniture shop whose vintage “buon fattura” evokes The Ice Storm, straight-up.

"Fashion Victim"

Home to twin fashion icons, Armani and Prada, the discussion here is velvet or metallic, toe caps or ankle straps, chainmail or PVC – fashion first. Not without irreverence, however, the collection and commentary can be deliciously dark as in Victim de la Mode, right.

La Scala is the most famous opera house in the world; the grand marble lobby dates back to the 1700s. Don’t miss the ethereal production of L’altra Meta del Cielo, choreographed to the music of contemporary singer-songwriter Vosco Rossi (through April 13).

With an exploding restaurant scene, astonishing contemporary furniture, lighting and interiors, stunning visual arts, performance and music, and of course, fashion, Milan is a creative mecca. I know I’ll be back to this gritty designing city. Ci vediamo, Milano.  •

About Epicurious Travelers

Ms. Margolis-Pineo created to showcase her published work and ongoing food-travel adventures. Based in Portland, Maine, she travels frequently both in her home state and north to Montreal, her favorite North American city. Although she refuses to use the word "foodie," she has an abiding interest in food and wine. Ms. Margolis-Pineo's background as a designer gives her site an edge in the oversaturated blogosphere. New contacts, "likes," subscribers and content are always welcome!
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