Milan: Fashion, Photography, Italy
I love to run but sometimes my spine needs a break. (Plus, cross-training is a good thing.) So instead of pounding away on the treadmill for an hour or so one day at the gym, I closed my eyes while climbing the stair-mill and let myself be swept away to the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti (the Spanish Steps) in Rome. The Scalinata is a steep set of steps that climbs the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza Trinità dei Monti; it is also the widest staircase in Europe. I would like to note that while I did almost fall off the stairs at the gym, I was solid as a rock on the Scalinata when I visited a couple of years ago–although if I’m going to fall off a set of steps, I’d rather it be off the Scalinata and into the Fontana della Barcaccia than a cement wall colored salmon (probably to mask the blood of previous victims).
While I appreciate and admire all Rome has to offer—its billions of fountains, breathtaking architecture, and foot-high portions of tiramisu-flavored gelato—Milan speaks to me from a more modern place, and it's this city, not Rome, that's on my mind right now. Milan, Italy, is known for its sharp angles and spires, not domed cathedrals and softly curved arches; business, fashion, and finance rather than religion, poetry, and ruins.
Don’t get me wrong: Milan offers plenty of those things (art, cafés, Old World food and style). But it’s not consumed (or necessarily defined) by its history, it seems to me, like other European cities—such as Rome—tend to be. The Milanese do not not define themselves by their past but rather by their present and future. Thus, theirs is a forward-looking city, the perfect place for aspiring fashionistas, writers, and artists looking for a little inspiration (and an awesome nightlife).
The nightlife in Milan is as fast and furious as the fast train that can take you there from Rome (which probably seemed a lot faster back in 1988 when it was introduced). On my visit, I have to stay at Four Seasons Hotel Milan—just because the building is actually a 15th-century convent turned hotel with some of Filippo Perini’s sketches adorning the walls. Il Foyer is the hotel’s in-house bar and lounge; you can go there for a quick, relaxing bite and beverage, but I’m more interested in visiting Just Cavalli Café.
Roberto Cavalli, an Italian fashion designer, had this club built in Parco Sempione, the largest garden in the city of Milan. I’ve read a lot of poor reviews of this place that say the food is awful and the clientele rude—but I’m not sure that a fine dining experience is the only reason you’d go to Just Cavalli. In Milan, it seems that restaurants are equal parts food and fashion, much like the city itself; and sometimes it’s the style that trumps the substance.
Go to Just Cavalli for the futuristic, modern architecture—glass skin stretched over a horseshoe-shaped skeleton of steel—the wild animal print interior, the mirrors, the flowers, and the fashionistas who frequent the place, rather than the bijou-sized bites of food, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Similarly glitzy Milanese bijoux line the Corso Como, if you're looking for a little variety. You'll have lots of options—clubs, restaurants, bars—but if you just can’t decide on something to do, then go check out “Glitter” on a Saturday night (the show and its cult have now moved to Hd). I think I might go to Milan just for this: it’s an event I’d expect 1972 David Bowie to attend—lots of glitz and glam, artists, photographers, exhibitionists, go-go girls, and queer rock bands, with a healthy dose of sparkle and surrealism that would make Dalì proud.