Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Milano: Duomo and Teatro

Still in Lombardy, even though Milan is a fashion paradise there is a lot more to it then shopping. Piazza Duomo, where Milan’s Cathedral and, obviously, its famous Duomo, are located, is the center of the city. The Cathedral is huge, almost intimidating and hypnotically beautiful on its in and outside. Milan grew axially around this amazing, gothic and recently retoured church, (which makes it pretty hard to drive there). Around the Dome Square there are also two places one must visit: the traditional Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the beautiful Teatro alla Scalla.

The ancient Galleria is an architecture icon. Its high and stylish glass arcades are capable of making anyone smile. On its interior there are some luxury fashion labels such as Prada and Vuitton; cafés such as the fashionable Gucci Café, on Gucci store, and Zuca, an interesting venue for cocktail lovers, since Campari was invented there; and one of, if not THE most exclusive hotel in Milan: Town House Galleria (http://www.townhousegalleria.it/hotel.html ). Located inside of the historical gallery this hotel offers a butler for each room among many unique services. Just out of curiosity, at the center of the gallery there is a huge mosaic on the floor. For the superstitious ones, the legend tells that you can bring yourself good luck by rubbing your feet on the genitals of the bull in the floor figure. Poor animal….

Two other great places to stay nearby are: STRAF (http://www.straf.it/ ), an arty hotel with a hip and busy bar worth having a cocktail, even if you’re not a guest; and Hotel The Grey (http://www.hotelthegray.com/ ), a beautiful, luxury design hotel, less then a block away from Piazza Duomo, and therefore, from the Galleria.

If you’re in Piazza Duomo, by entering and crossing Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II you will end up on Piazza della Scalla and will be face to face with the magnificent theater building. Teatro alla Scalla (http://www.teatroallascala.org ) is so charming… The small palace was built in the 18th century and still hosts many great events and has its own little museum. After a concert, have dinner at Trussardi all Scalla (http://www.trussardiallascala.com/ ) a wonderful restaurant housed on top of Trussardi store right in front of the theater (you can also find Café Trussardi right behind the store, perfect for lunch or coffee). It is a beautiful, modern and trendy Italian hangout. Seat by a window and have a great view of the theater building. The food is very good and I think it was where I tested one of the most different deserts of my live. It was actually Luv the one who ordered it, since he’s a cigar lover: a chocolate cigar. Seems simple? At first it does. The buzz, however is, its filling is cooked along with real Cuban tobacco! More precisely, the luxurious Partagas D4! The smoke released from the cooking of the tobacco impregnates the hazelnut cream. The filled chocolate straw is served with sauce and ice cream which makes the different textures, temperatures and flavors, among with the slightly smoky retro taste of the tobacco, one of the most indescribable sensations that could happened inside one’s mouth!!! Just try it!!

Around two blocks behind La Scalla is established my favorite hotel in Milan: Bulgari Hotel (http://www.bulgarihotels.com/ ). It is perfectly located between the fashionable Quadrilatero d’Oro and the classic Galleria. In spite of being right on the center of the city buzz it is located on a hidden, little, dead end street. It is surrounded with green, giving the idea of a peaceful oasis in the middle of agitated Milan. By the way, a coffee or a cocktail on those gardens is mandatory, even for those not staying there!

Since the days are already taken care of, lets close it with some great dinners.
My favorite restaurants in Milan are Sadler (http://www.sadler.it/ ) and Cracco (info@ristorantecracco.it). Both are trendy and inventive with amazing food, impeccable service and the perfect ambience. Other great places are Joia (http://www.joia.it/noflash.htm ), considered one of the best “cordon vert” cuisines (only with a few fish dishes), and, Il Luogo de Aimo e Nadia (http://www.aimoenadia.com/ ) a family-run business a bit far from the city’s center but with very good food.

Well, have a great time! Boa Viagem!

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