If I had to choose between the most fashionable cities in the world, Paris, London, New York and Milan would definitely come to mind. However, the final decision would be easy - my personal favorite place of fashion is undoubtedly Milan. Its vicinity and the frequency of my previous visits certainly play an important part, but what attracts me most are the big Italian fashion brands and the way of enjoying life that only true citizens of Milan seem to grasp.
Milano is perfect town for visiting it for a few days and then leave, filled with energy and sensations. What defines Milan for me is taking a stroll through the streets of the golden rectangle (Quadrilatero d'Oro), where alleys filled with all the most important Italian and foreign fashion stores meet. Via Manzoni, Via Spiga, Via Sant Andrea and of course Via Montenapoleone, where you can gaze at the latest collections of renowned fashion designers such as Gucci, Burberry, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo, Etro, Valentino, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Moncler, Prada and the rest.
I continue on my fashion prowl towards Milan Cathedral and the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, home among others to the first and the oldest Prada store, which used to be just a mere boutique. This is the very store which saw the beginning of Miuccia Prada's world adventure and the rise of her Prada and Miu Miu brands. The shop, equipped with antique wooden furniture, is amazing. You shouldn't simply check out the top floor, but descend down the stairs into the lower part as well, where you're in for a surprise.
Directly next to the cathedral is the multi-storied La Rinascente department store with a wide selection of fashion brands from all over the world and an especially friendly cosmetics department on the first floor, where you're met by stylish sellers, who make your day by showcasing the latest perfumes.
I usually set out towards the La Rinascente department store in the evening when the rest of the shops are already closed, since it's open until 10 pm even during the weekend.
However, if I find myself in its vicinity during lunch time, I pop up to the top floor where a wide selection of foods (I usually take the salad bar) and excellent Italian delicacies are available.
To conclude a wonderful shopping spree, one simply can't go without visiting 10 Corso Como, which indicates both the name and the address of the most chic concept store in Italy or even in the world. Here, the owner Carla Sozzani has offered carefully selected pieces of fashion brands, design, jewelery and fragrances for decades.
Running from store to store can be hard work, so enjoying a coffee brings welcome respite. It also gives me the chance to process everything that I've seen and tried and to think carefully about what's worth buying. I've been visiting a few favorite spots for years, but there are always new ones to discover as well. »The discovery« of my most recent trip is definitely the Mandarin Oriental Milano hotel bar in the direct vicinity of La Scala, and Pasticceria Marchesi at Via Montenapoleneone. Upon entering the latter from a drab rainy day, I felt like spring was upon us. The neat Rose Quartz and Serenity packaging oozes with an especially gentle feeling. The other side of the street is home to the historical Caffè Cova, where it's always bustling with people and the staff hasn't changed since my first visit.
A short distance from the center at Via Turatti there's another superb pastry shop and bistro – Bianco Latte, where Victoria and David Beckham would satisfy their cravings for sweets when staying in Milan. However, when the summer heat comes to Milan, there's no better place to have coffee and browse through fashion newspapers than at the unique garden of Bulgari hotel.
Let's not forget about the cuisine. There's an astonishing variety of restaurants to choose from, but I mostly like to stick to what I know. Lunch at the Paper Moon or Bagutta at Via Bagutta, a quick lunch at the historical Ristorante al Cantinone at Via Agnello 19 and dinner at La Briciola and Bebel's in Brera district or at the legendary Da Giacomo.
La Passegiata / The Walk – Outdor Exhibition in Via Montenapoleone during Milano Fashion Week by Photographer Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist)
Milan Cathedral is one of the most famous Gothic churches in the world. Its magnificence and uniqueness rivals no other. Everyone will know where you've been if you take a photo at the square in front of it.
Each display window is unique, carefully set up, original, different... You can easily spot people wearing fashion pieces that you might have seen in a display window just the day before, so you could say that Milan is one big fashion show.
Gucci Cafe in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, where I ordered a coffee along with some neatly packaged truffles for my fashionistas back home, so they can get a taste of Milan as I tell them about my trip.