Milan is undeniably one of the fashion capitals of the world and just by walking its streets, I can easily understand why. Practically everyone was dressed to the nines! Where else can you find impeccably dressed men in suits and ties, riding their bikes to work? Paris may have the good-looking people but Milan has the fashion pack.
There were quite a number of tours in our trusty Trip Advisor City Guide app, but since we were in Milan, why not try the fashion walk tour?
We started off at the Duomo but we quickly got lost after that – our city guide apps don’t really identify dead end streets and it had pointed us in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. The good thing though was that we found ourselves just a few steps away from the Emporio Armani Caffe.
Yep, you read that right. The fashion house has its own cafe right smack in the fashion capital of Italy! What better way to start our day than with an aperitif at a fashion cafe, no? Prices weren’t so bad either.
After freshening up a bit, we spent the better part of an hour looking for Via Montenapoleone, which we thought at first to be a historic place in the fashion world, but which turned out to be the shopping district of Milan where practically all the luxury brands are. I guess you already know what happened next – major retail therapy.
Hauling all our shopping bags, we made it to the next stop in the fashion walk, the Bagatti Valsecchi mansion. This mansion was the family home of Barons Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi. The two undertook the task of remodelling the home in the Neo-Renaissance style, beginning in the 1880s and all throughout their lives.
I am so in love with this house. The interiors are quite dark for my taste, owing to the lack of big windows, so it can get kind of musty, but the use of warm wood, colorful tapestries, and etched ceilings made the entire place cozy – not hard to imagine our future home looking like this.
The tour starts at the 2nd floor in a room called the Room of the Fresco, where this fresco of the Madonna of Mercy, originally from a parish church in Bergamo, greets guests.
I have a thing for lampposts as I think I’ve mentioned before but I also have this thing for ceilings. I automatically look up whenever I am visiting a new place, expecting a surprise waiting for me there.
Now, I have this phobia of vases since I was a kid, after I watched a movie where monsters would come out of large vases. It’s been decades but it still makes me look over my shoulders whenever I’m surrounded by ceramic vases (for some reason, I’m not scared of clear, glass ones).
Fausto never married but Giuseppe married Carolina Borromeo, from one of the richest and most powerful families in Milan at the time. Their bedroom, while typical, is kind of unique in that it’s the first one I’ve been to where there are also kids’ furniture and toys.
Oh, and how cute is that little crib? True, it must be kind of hard if the baby bumps his head on that solid iron frame, but it’s really cute.
My favorite room is the Grand Salon, which is easily the biggest room in the entire house. It is made of warm wood (by now you probably can also tell that I love wood), and has a very high ceiling where a huge chandelier hangs from, and numerous lamps. These lamps used to run on gas but as soon as electricity became available in Milan, the brothers had them changed. The Bagatti Valsecchi mansion was actually one of the first to have electricity in Milan. That just speaks of how rich and powerful they must have been back then.
The house was restored and kept as it was many years ago when the brothers were still alive based on the very detailed and meticulous plans and descriptions they left behind, kept together in a hard bound ancient book.
After our tour, we went off to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, named after the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, and one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. It is very similar in structure to the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels, with its domed glass and iron ceiling. It connects the Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala (and there I go almost typing in pizza what with all those piazzas).
The arcade has high-end shops, such as Prada and Louis Vuitton. I read in one of the travel sites I’ve been browsing prior to my trip that there used to be a McDonald’s inside, but the other shops petitioned that it be removed as it doesn’t necessarily fit in with the ambiance/prestige they were aiming for.
A statue of Leonardo da Vinci stands in the Piazza della Scala, made of white carrara marble. The Accademia di Bella Arti in Brera held a competition in the 1850s, to come up with a monument to be placed in the Palazzo in Brera. The jury selected the sketch by Pietro Magni, which shows da Vinci surrounded by four of his pupils. It was later decided to place the statue instead at the Piazza where it still stands today.