Not the cylindrical, furry, tunneling subterranean kind but the word element in Moleskine, Milan’s iconic little black notebook. Co-opted as a travel journal, planner, diary and sketchbook the notebook with the famous blank pages of ivory-colored paper is waiting to be filled with your thoughts.
Each notebook page is kept in place with a ribbon bookmark and then collectively tucked away between the covers with a signature elastic band. Used by Picasso, van Gogh, Matisse and Hemingway moleskine notebooks have a devoted following worldwide and can now be found in a variety of covers, colors and digital versions for a new generation of artists and thinkers.
Bring or buy your Moleskine on your next trip to Milan and meet with other like-minded writers and sketchers while sipping an espresso at the Moleskine Cafe in Milan’s Brera district. The cafe, art gallery, store and library is described as a clean-lined, minimalistic space designed with neutral colors “like the pages of a Moleskine notebook” waiting to inspire you to tell your story.
In Milan you can eat in some of the most exquisite restaurants in the world or grab a panzerotti, a pocket of soft billowy dough that tastes like a closed pizza from a street side shop down from the Duomo. I had mine standing in line with my Italian cousins on a rainy October afternoon with about 30 other munching Milanese savoring every bite at Luini’s panificio on Via S.Radegonda 16.
City dwellers and in-the-know tourists line-up by the dozens for Luini’s famous doughnut-like pizza. A gastronomic specialty from Puglia, panzerotti were brought to the Milan in 1949 by Giuseppina Luini seeking her fortune in the post-war Lombardian capital of the north.
Tomato and mozzarella cheese are classic but there are other sweet and savory fillings for this doughnut-like pizza on the go. Luini’s panzerotti has gained such popularity that the Mayor of Milan’s Municipal seal of approval is the back of the sack.
Like Casper the friendly ghost, my paranormal candelabra by British designer John Russel seems to bring a spirit of lightness wherever it is found. I bought it several years ago at the Design Supermarket in La Rinascente, Milan’s venerable 150 year-old department store within the shadow of the Duomo. A floor of shop-in-shops dedicated to design, the “supermarket” showcases Italian design institutions like Alessi and Nespresso but also includes up and coming designers from around the world.
Here you’ll find lighting, technological gadgets, office accessories, kitchen and tableware starting with objects that are surprisingly reasonable in price, making the store the perfect place for a little souvenir to bring Italy home. Russel’s ethereal candelabra made of flat fluorescent acrylic panels etched with a classic candelabra form seems to float in thin air making it perfect for my Halloween table.
One of Italy’s most popular and versatile vegetables has made its way to the catwalks of Milan alla Dolce and Gabbana. D & G must have had a bumper crop of zucchini this summer that inspired them to raise la verdura to haute couture. “Zucchini chic” is what the Wall Street Journal and behind the scenes fashionistas are calling the vegetable prints found in D & G’s 2012 Spring Summer Collection. Paired with pasta earrings and market basket purses their delicious designs gave new meaning to la tua mamma’s admonition to eat more vegetables or in this case to wear iconic Italian fashions that look good enough to eat. Red pepper, zucchini, onion, eggplant and tomato prints were paired with chiffon, lace and macramé to create a riot of color reminiscent of an Italian street festival. The finale included a bejeweled collection of colorful crystal embellished swimsuits that lit up the runway like a show of fireworks. A perfect ending to an Italian sagra where the twinkling lights of an evening on the piazza light up the colors and flavors of the food.
Friday’s wedding of the century may turn out to be the end of a century of less than inspiring British fashion. With a short lived blip on the fashion radar during Diana’s reign and the Twiggyesque period of the 60’s, the London fashion scene has again been heating up with the engagement and Royal Wedding of Will and Kate. Kate’s gown alone has caused London’s fashion stock to dramatically rise. The wedding gown designed by Sarah Burton, head designer for Alexander McQueen, was nothing short of inspirational. Drawing on tradition and modernity with an artistic vision for British style and craftsmanship, the gown was a herald of what is to come in the fashion world.
Alexander McQueen has always been threatening the catwalks of Milan and his untimely death last year at the age of 40 was deeply felt by the industry. The brand continues most assuredly to carry the banner for British Isle style under McQueen’s former assistant now creative director, Sarah Burton. Opening tomorrow at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is what has been described as a “powerful and moving retrospective” of McQueen’s work entitled Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. It emphasizes the power, glory and majesty of fashion. It will send Italian fashionistas back to the drawing board looking for that Italian sense of sprezzatura to once again make the difficult and flawless task of Italian design appear to be without effort or thought, convincingly exquisite.
Where can you sleep in a bed of roses with a headboard made from a ball gown? At Milan’s newest contemporary hotel, Maison Moschino. The imaginative designs of Italian fashion design house, Moschino have been whimsically interpreted in a 65 room boutique hotel in a renovated 19th century neoclassical railway station near trendy Corso Como.
A bedpost becomes a forest and a giant teacup your occasional table for a morning cappuccino as you enter into a sensory sojourn for the mind, body and spirit. Each room has a unique theme from the overstuffed torta and cupcake pillows scattered on your bed in the Sweet Room to the stuffed rose patterned big bad wolf waiting for you in the Little Red Riding Hood Room. Breakfast is served in an acrylic shoebox and a playful menu of earthly delights awaits your further dining choices. Special offers include a family package, wellness and gourmet package and one fittingly called Escape into the Moschino Dreamworld where a surreal dreamlike setting is the perfect background for a weekend retreat.
As expected the prices are haute couture yet family friendly with a second room booked for the children free.