Milan

Fashion, blues and new spas

Contemporary Chic
At their shop Salvatore + Marie, Salvatore Pischedda and his Irish wife, Marie Darmody, create home furnishings with style and wit. Their light fixture "The Party," composed of 350 Campari bottles ($3,700), is a gleeful take on a classic chandelier; their newly developed technique of applying silver to wood yields beautiful furniture adorned with reflective floral patterns. The couple also creates more packable items, such as the "pebble" salt and pepper shakers in glazed ceramic or enamel, or dipped in platinum and gold ($37-$75). At 33 Via Vigevano; 39-02/8942-2152.

—Jackie Cooperman

Vintage Visionary
Milan native Paola Bay has become fashion insiders' best source for vintage dresses, shoes, and bags. The 37-year-old connects her clients with a vast network of shops and dealers, digging up treasures like a yellow 1963 Valentino gown (bought in London 15 years ago). Bay works by appointment only in a prestigious building in the Santo Spirito neighborhood, and just paying her a visit is a treat for stylish history lovers: The ride up to her office is in a small fifties plastic box elevator. Rates available upon request. At 22 Via Santo Spirito; 39-02/799-766.

—J.C.

The Best Hotel Gym in Milan
The gyms at the Bulgari, Four Seasons, and Park Hyatt don't compare to the one at the Hotel Principe di Savoia. This classic city hotel may lack a certain modern edge, but the fitness-and-beauty center is the most inviting in town. The equipment is brand-new and the pool immaculate. There's also a spa with top-rate technicians and a wrap-around terrace. Rates, $630-$11,585. At 17 Piazza della Repubblica; 39-02/62301.

—J.C.

Tie the Knot
Milanese men in the know snap up seven-fold ties by Angelo Fusco, a plastic surgeon and part-time designer. Made of silk jacquard with a single seam, the scalpel-sharp ties are handstitched in Caserta, near Naples. Fusco's trademark chestnut pattern is popular with politicians. Dashing wedding attendees have lately gone for apricot or aqua. From $145. At 25 Via Montenapoleone; 39-02/7631-8933.

—Valerie Waterhouse

Design Evolution
Fabio Cocchi and Luigi Rotta, owners of Dovetusai, a design shop in the Porta Romana neighborhood, say they are "looking for the perfect mix." We think they've found it: In this former paint factory, furniture and objets by John Pawson and Isamu Noguchi sit beside young designers' first collections. The stock changes frequently, but on a recent visit, we were particularly taken with some laser-cut Italian wool blankets with floral designs ($370-$740) and Vincent Van Duysen's earthenware containers with wooden tops that become plates ($120-$185). At 24 Via Sigieri; 39-02/5990-2432.

—J.C.

Breaking Ground
To call a 58-room hotel sitting in the middle of Milan a resort sounds like a misnomer. But the new Bulgari Hotel and Resort delivers on its promise—and then some. In a cul-de-sac buffered by several thousand square feet of gardens, the Bulgari feels like a world unto itself. The lobby, done in black marble and teak, is illuminated by floor-to-ceiling windows. The bedrooms (most of which face the garden) have heavy doors, bleached-oak walls, and granite-and-marble bathrooms. The standard rooms are a bit small, but in all other respects—the terrific spa and pool, the expert staff led by G.M. Attilio Marro—the Bulgari gets everything right. Rates, $690-$4,300. At 7B Via Privata Fratelli Gabba; 39-02/805-8051.

—J.C.

The Perfect Lemon Gelato
The Milanese, like the citizens of most Italian cities, love to debate which gelateria is best (Chocolat? Marghera?). Let them quibble: Our money is on Oasi del Gelato. The mixed-berry and peach flavors are terrific; so, too, is cinnamon. But the masterpiece is the lemon granita—not too grainy, not too sweet, and with an almost exotic citrus flavor. At 26 Via dei Fabbri; 39-02/8940-6958.

—J.C.

Fashionable Art
Prada and Trussardi, major players in the Milan fashion world, continue to elevate the city's style with their contemporary-art foundations. This month the Fondazione Prada (36 Via Fogazzaro; 39-02/5467-0515), which last year exhibited a Francesco Vezzoli video installation, will screen six selections from the Tribeca Film Festival. The Fondazione Nicola Trussardi (5 Piazza della Scala; 39-02/806-8821), run by his daughter, Beatrice, puts art on the streets instead of in galleries—with mixed results (Maurizio Cattelan's lifelike models of boys hanging from trees lasted a day before an irate bystander cut them down). Upcoming projects include video work by German artist John Bock.

—J.C.

Where to Find Great Cappuccino
Believe it or not, our favorite is at the Express Cafe in Cadorna station (39-02/8050-9046), where the Malpensa Express train rolls in from the airport. What it lacks in charm, it makes up for with a perfect brew topped with froth that is just a touch creamy. Once you've left the station the best spot for cappuccino is Pasticceria Sissi. It also has a lovely garden and a wide selection of newspapers, some in English and French (6 Piazza Risorginato; 39-02/7601-4664).

—J.C.

Art of Glass
Founded by a former staff member of Italian Architectural Digest, La Vertraia is a showcase for daring contemporary glassmakers. There's Venetian glass, of course, but here it's sleek and sinuous, stripped of its familiar rococo flourishes. England, Poland, and Scandinavia are represented, too, in items ranging from candy-colored glass-bead necklaces to handblown-glass picture frames. $25-$740. At 52 Corso Magenta; 39-02/4801-1512.

The Collector
When it was founded 20 years ago, Nina Yashar's gallery, Nilufar, dealt in Oriental rugs. Today Yashar has widened her scope considerably, adding a collection of contemporary art (like Gaetano's acrylic hanging sculptures) and modern furniture (she recently bought all of the furniture designed by Gio Ponti from the Hotel Parco dei Principe in Sorrento). Nilufar is a favorite among Milan's elite, including Anna Zegna, who recently bought a pair of gold earrings by GianCarlo Montebello ($1,850). At 32 Via della Spiga; 39-02/780-193.

—J.C.

Milano Gizmo
In a city obsessed with design, the most intelligent gadget we've come across is Bernasconi's sterling-silver bag hanger. A simple hook topped with a silver disk, the hanger slides onto the edge of a table, providing a place to stow your handbag (and keep it off the ground). It comes in a smart navy-blue envelope tied with a gold ribbon. $45. At 33 Galleria Vittorio Emanuele; 39-02/8646-0923.

—J.C.

The Da Vinci Passageways
For inquisitive grade-schoolers, few things are more thrilling than a private tour of the secret passageways beneath Milan's Renaissance Castello Sforzesco. Believed to have been designed by Da Vinci—who spent 17 years in Milan as a painter and engineer for Duke Ludovico Sforza—the network of arched brick passageways stretches 1,640 feet, with several more unexplored tunnels leading who knows where. The expert guides explain, in English, the strategic and social uses of the tunnels (one passageway to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie allowed the duke to avoid the crowds). Because explanations can be lengthy, tours are best suited for kids eight and older. Rate, $80 per group. At Piazza Castello; 39-02/659-6937.

—V.W.

A Shave and a Haircut
In the courtyard behind the new Dolce & Gabbana men's store (15 Corso Venezia; 39-02/7601-1154), 23-year-old Roberto Cacciola tends to only the chicest signore. The barbershop has just two seats and is strictly by appointment, but while you wait your turn, there's also a spa and divinely decadent martini bar with a red-and-gold-dragon floor mosaic. Any connoisseur of the art of the shave should also visit G. Lorenzi (9 Via Montenapoleone; 39-02/7602-2848), the famous purveyor of all things wonderful—especially shaving equipment. Owner Franco Lorenzi has a private museum upstairs with 4,000 grooming accoutrements, from brushes to blades, including a bronze Etruscan razor dating from the tenth to sixth centuries B.C. He also published the 300-page Rasoi e Lame, Barbe e Baffi ($92; Silvana Editoriale). For now it's only available in Italian, but who cares—the lavish illustrations are fantastic.

The Next Armani?
Italy's fashion capital is awash with young designers burning to make their mark. Below, our pick of the new bunch and where to find them:

For artist turned clothing designer Monika Varga's swirling, digitally printed dresses in white silk or cotton jacquard ($370), head to Atribu. At 3 Corso Garibaldi; 39-02/867-127.

Walter Voulaz's white cotton shirts with petal-shaped appliqués and close-fitting blouses in stretch-silk georgette (from $220) are available at Mari. At 40 Galleria Manzoni; 39-02/7602-2869.

Handbags in vintage men's tweeds (from $295) by emerging label Aristolasia can be ordered directly from the company's picturesque showroom. At 2A Vicolo dei Lavandai; 39-02/8942-0540; www.aristolasia.com.

—V.W.

The Park Hyatt
One of Milan's coolest and most modern hotels also has the city's best standard rooms. The ones with a courtyard view beat out the street-facing rooms—but just barely. They are all done in Ed Tuttle's chic, minimalist style (tavertine marble, Murano-glass sconces) with enormous bathrooms and high-speed Internet access (believe us, not so common in Italian hotels). Rate, $565. At 1 Via Tommaso Grossi; 39-02/8821-1234.

—J.C.

"Before I head off to the Hotel San Pietro in Positano, I always stop into Kristina Ti for a great bathing suit." At 18 Via Solferino; 39-02/653-379.

—MARIA CHRISTINA BUCCELATTI, JEWELER

Sterling Sauteuse
Altro, the Italian maker of divine silver cookware, has just opened Spazio Strato, a chic, airy shop with an adjoining café. Pick up a risotto pan with a titanium handle ($1,020-$2,520)—it'll be a joy to cook with silver's natural antibacterial properties and excellent heat conduction. But don't stop for lunch here just yet: The chef hasn't quite mastered the art of cooking—in any type of pan. At 5 Via Francesco Burlamacchi; 39-02/5412-1804.

—V.W.

Where to Go When
AN EVENING APERITIVO . . . One of the smartest spots in town for a flute of Prosecco is Beige. When it's warm the young and fashionable crowd spills out onto the beautifully landscaped square on the edge of the Brera neighborhood, admiring themselves and the view. At 5 Largo la Foppa; 39-02/659-9487.

. . . AFTER MIDNIGHT Rare for Milan, Al Garibaldi serves until 1 a.m. Fashionistas gather during the collections in March and September, and theatergoers regularly wander in for grilled tuna over radicchio-and-zucchini soufflé in a delicate tomato sauce. Dinner, $86. At 7 Viale Monte Grappa; 39-02/659-8006.

—J.C.

Hot Chefs, Cool Caffes and the Best Panini
CHEF TO WATCH Women running high-powered kitchens are as rare in Italy as a good burger. So we applaud Paola Budel for breathing new life into the Galleria at the Principe di Savoia Hotel (dinner, $245; 17 Piazza della Repubblica; 39-02/62301). We love her fava-bean tartine with crispy octopus and the honey-glazed duck with tarragon ice cream.

FASHION CAFE Fashion designers know that even size fours need to eat—well, peck. Devotees of Roberto Cavalli's flamboyant style congregate at Just Cavalli Café (dinner, $110; Viale Camoens; 39-02/311-817), outfitted with antelope fur-draped furniture.

HAUTE VEGETABLES At sleek and serene Joia (dinner, $150; 18 Via Panfilo Castaldi; 39-02/2952-2124) Swiss-born Pietro Leeman makes eating vegetarian food—a mix-and-match trio of vegetable soups, the now-legendary "variations on eggplant"—into a Zen-like experience.

TOP TOQUE The inventive Carlo Craco is to Italy's alta cucina what Prada is to its fashion. At Cracco-Peck (dinner, $160; 4 Via Victor Hugo; 39-02/876-774) he wows with creations like white asparagus with almond sorbet and prawns with spiced milk foam. Upstairs is Milan's best food shop, with a mile-long cheese counter and a 600-bottle cellar.

LUNCH BOX Nuovo Macello (lunch, $86; 20 Via Cesare Lombroso; 39-02/5990-2122) is a minimalist Milanese trattoria with spare dark wood tables and an utterly wonderful menu of risotto flourished with prawns and dried capers; onion ravioli drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar; and the crispiest, lightest Milanese cutlet in town.

PERFECT PANINI Nobody does them better than Paninoteca Bar Quadronno (from $10; 34 Via Quadronno; 39-02/5830-6612). Try the cinghiale (wild boar) prosciutto, and don't listen to people who prefer the panini at Giusti.

—Anya von Bremzen

Drinking Like a Local: David Lynch's Wine List
Milan is loaded with wine bars, where the local swells smoke, eat finger sandwiches, and drink, especially these two regional wines:

Franciacorta Brut Rosé, Contadi Castaldi This is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Franciacorta, Italy's top region for sparkling wine. It's smoky, spicy, and structured—and has a festive color to boot.

Valtellina Sfursat "Canua," Conti Sertoli Salis This silky, aromatic red is from the region near the Swiss border. It's made from Nebbiolo, the same grape used in Barolo.

Wall-to-Wall Wine
In business since 1952, Enoteca Cotti has achieved cult status in Milan. The store, run by the Cotti family, is impressively (and almost maniacally) stocked floor to ceiling with 680 varieties of grappa, 300 types of whisky, 200 rums, and who knows how many bottles of wine, including some under his own label. A man of singular enthusiasm, Cotti will gladly describe each and every bottle; don't ask too many questions if you're pressed for time. At 42 Via Solferino; 39-02/2900-1096.

—J.C.

Suiting Up
Brioni has gone back to its roots with a bespoke atelier across from its flagship store. In addition to its classic suits, the handsome store—which looks like it's been there for 100 years—also custom makes shirts, sewn on-site by a team of old-world tailors. From $3,500 for a suit. At 2 Via Gesù; 39-02/7631-8718.

Cocktails Near the Duomo
The bar at the stylish boutique hotel The Gray is a sleek little refuge with a gregarious Cuban bartender, Pedro Fiol. Who else could make such a fine mojito? At 6 Via San Raffaele; 39-02/720-8951.

Beyond Borders
The product of Franco Maria Ricci's peculiar but utterly fascinating vision, Libreria FMR is the bookshop-cum-publishing house behind such influential publications as the FMR art quarterly. "You're not going to find a Van Gogh or Da Vinci book here," says Alice Morretti, Ricci's right-hand woman. What you will find are books designed by Ricci and published in French, Italian, English, and Russian, as well as lavishly printed limited editions on Schlumberger jewelry and Venetian glass, with text by Eco and Borges. Books start at $260 and rise swiftly. At 19 Via Durini; 39-02/798-444.

—J.C.

Blues in the Night
The Blue Note Milano, the Manhattan institution's first European outpost, keeps the crowds bebopping with shows by the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. The club also has a small but terrific dinner menu. Tickets from $30. At 37 Via Borsieri; 39-02/6901-6888.

—J.C.

Herbal Bellisima
The new Winetherapy line from Nature's, based outside of Milan, uses Chianti grape must and wine in its detoxifying sea-salt scrub. It also turns your bathwater a delicious shade of pink. $30 at Officinale Mediolanum. At 7 Via Volta; 39-02/657-2882.

Not Just for Kids
Every chic parent in town knows Pupi Solari, the shop in the Corso Magenta neighborhood that sells exquisite kids' clothes, like handmade dresses by Valerie Goode and knits by La Nouveau Née. What they may not realize is that Solari, who founded the shop in 1969, was among the first in Milan to sell Jil Sander, and she continues to carry stylish men's and women's clothes. There's also a cozy tearoom in the back. At 12 Via Mascheroni; 39-02/463-325.

—J.C.

The Brioni Suite
This new suite at the Four Seasons, completed in the spring, is impressive not only for its swinging modern look—cool grays, Castiglioni lamps, classical artifacts, and oval windows—but also because it is big enough for a family. Besides a huge master bedroom with four balconies above the courtyard, the Brioni-decorated suite has two bathrooms and an ingenious—and comfortable—Murphy bed. Rate, $300. At 6-8 Via Gesù; 39-02/77088.

—J.C.

Your Own Private Leonardo
The Last Supper is impossible to see privately. Instead of getting crushed by the crowds, head to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (a cloistered library and gallery, magnificently restored in 1997) to see Leonardo's mysteriously beautiful painting of a curly-haired musician. You'll be the only one there. At 2 Piazza Pio XI; 39-02/806-921.

Where to Log On
The most stylish Internet point in town is the Mediateca di Santa Teresa, in a deconsecrated 18th-century church. The pews have, of course, been replaced—by 120 stainless-steel computer terminals. But a few fragmented frescoes remain, as does an atmosphere of quiet contemplation. At 28 Via della Moscova; 39-02/873-9781.

—V.W.

Modern Masters
Two-hundred-seventy modern works collected by artist Marieda di Stefano and her husband, Pirelli engineer Antonio Boschi, are now on display in the couple's former apartment (15 Via Jan; 39-02/2024-0568). Crammed floor to ceiling with pieces by Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana, and still-life painter Giorgio Morandi, the exhibit is just the peak of the couple's mountainous 2,000-piece collection. In winter 2005 textile heiresses Gigina and Netta Necchi's thirties house (12 Via Mozart; www.fondoambiente.it) will open to the public. Treasures include paintings by Canaletto and Tiepolo, Chinese ceramics, and original furniture by the house's architect, Piero Portaluppi.

—V.W.

For Il Cane
We love Francescatrezzi's chic dog coats, collars, and leads. Working in crocodile-printed calfskin and raspberry silk satin, the designer also makes shoes and handbags for her clients' owners. At 44 Corso Garibaldi; 39-02/8691-5103.

The Heights of Pampering
Romans may have discovered the spa, but Milan has brought it into the 21st century, with several important openings around town. Gianfranco Ferré's E'Spa (15 Via Sant'Andrea; 39-02/7601-7526) takes only six clients at a time for treatments like hot-stone massage and linen exfoliating wrap ($75-$270). Habits Culti (5 Via Mauri; 39-02/4851-7588), an offshoot of the chic home store on Corso Venezia, is a minimalist retreat with yucca trees in the foyer, a hammam built for two, and a menu of therapies using Mediterranean oils. An exotic streak also runs through the Moresko Hammam Café (entry, $90, including membership fee; 19 Via Rubens; 39-02/404-6936), probably the largest and best-equipped new spa in Milan (the no-frills entrance notwithstanding). It also has a hammam; a steam room where guests are rubbed down with essential oils; a hot-stone tepidarium; and an 89.6-degree pool done in pale blue Bisazza tiles. Perhaps the truest Italian spa is Aquae Calidae (14 Via Santa Sofia; 39-02/5843-0269), a traditional Roman bathhouse with a sleek decor of pale gray mosaic tiles and Venetian pebble floors. It has become popular with contessas and fashion editors, who jockey for space in the steam room and vie for appointments for a sea-salt massage ($115).

Frescoes, Organs, and Oratorios
Beginning October 10 the frescoed Santa Maria della Passione, which has a remarkable pair of 16th- and 17th-century organs, will host a series of concerts the second Sunday of every month (2 Via Bellini; 39-02/7631-7176; www.lacappellamusicale.com). Highlights from past series include rarely played organ duets by Pachelbel, Mozart, and Bach. Haydn and Vivaldi are on the program of the San Maurizio music festival's fall season, which will feature mezzo-soprano Anna Bonitatibus as well as madrigals sung by the group La Venexiana (2 Via Luini; 39-02/7600-5500; www.quartettomilano.it).

—V.W.

Oil Refinery
True to its name, Tano and Nadia Simonato's restaurant, Tano passami l'olio (which means "Tano, pass me the oil"), stocks more than 40 regional olive oils, pairing a different batch with each course. "We don't believe in using butter or cream," Tano explains. The results are superb in dishes like salt- and freshwater shrimp spiced with curry and lemon, and pork loin with sage purée and a potato-and-artichoke soufflé. Dinner, $70. At 32A Via Vigevano; 39-02/839-4139.

—J.C.

How to Rent a Tram
The most pleasant way to see the city is in one of the three historic cars newly available for rent ($500-$600 for three hours). Ride the all-white No. 609, with wood seats and the Milanese Tramway's trademark basket-shaped chandeliers. Each tram holds about 20 people. 39-02/4803-5171.

Only in Milan
What once were Milanese brands (Prada, Armani) are now sold everywhere from Detroit to Dubai. But the city's old accessories companies—even the most famous ones—still make things you can buy only in Milan.

Tod's (22 Via della Spiga; 39-02/7600-2423) does only eight of each of its "Milano" shoes and bags. Trimmed with python and lizard, just one pair of shoes is made in each size. Shoes start at $250 and bags $550.

Henry Béguelin (7 Via Caminadella; 39-02/7200-0959) has five boutiques in the United States, but only the original shop in Milan takes custom orders for its boho-chic leather accessories (from $345).

Massimo Suppancig, the recently appointed head of Valextra (3 Via Manzoni), a venerable Milanese leather company, brought local leather crafters out of retirement to produce a line of shoes exclusively for the label's new flagship store. Men's start at $615, women's at $430.

There are a mere 106 silver tea and coffee services by Giorgio Armani (24 Via Durini; 39-02/7600-3030). The cube-shaped teapot, coffeepot, sugar bowl, and creamer ($11,000 with an ebony tray) are signed by the man himself, and the majority of the sets are sold in Milan.

Carlo and Sergio Antonini (18 Via Manzoni; 39-02/7600-0016) sell their delicate gold-and-precious-stone jewelry worldwide. But the brothers' boutique is the only place you can purchase their one-of-a-kind gems, like the stunning white-gold ring with a giant lemon sapphire ($27,800).

Only at the Milan Malo store (7 Via della Spiga; 39-02/7601-6109) will you find Alvaro Gonzalez's special-edition accessories, like an oblong bag in fluorescent PVC with velvet handles ($350).

—J.C.

The Grand Dame
For a gilded glimpse into the city's past, the Grand Hotel et de Milan is still the place to stay. The hotel on Via Manzoni prides itself on Grand Tour glamour, with suites dedicated to its illustrious guests, Giuseppe Verdi (he died here), Maria Callas, and the painter Tamara de Lempicka among them. Nearly every inch of the place is graciously old-fashioned—the ornate moldings, the Belle Epoque furniture, the formal restaurant Don Carlos (popular with well-heeled Milanese). Book one of the fifth-floor rooms with enormous windows looking out on the spires of the Duomo. Rates, $515-$1,490. At 29 Via Manzoni; 39-02/723-141.

—J.C.

The Paper Chase
F. Pettinaroli is one of the last of its breed, selling painstakingly made stationery. The leather note-card boxes are created without a single nail; the women who tend the shop wear green aprons and handwrite receipts. Every notable name in Milan (Diego della Valle of Tod's, for one) has stopped in to have it engraved on stationery. $40-$160. At 2 Piazza San Fedele; 39-02/8646-4642.

—J.C.

"For coffee and an amazing panettone, I head to Pasticceria Marchesi." At 13 Via Santa Maria Alla Porta; 39-02/862-770.

—CARLA SOZZANI, OWNER OF 10 CORSO COMO

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