Mikaela Bandini's insider Italy http://urbanitaly.com the travel guide to contemporary Italy Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:21:48 +0000 en-EN hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Milan | Milan Bar-Hopping Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/milan-milan-bar-hopping-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/milan-milan-bar-hopping-tour.html#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:19:39 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4065 MBHT fi DopingThe only problem with designing a Milan Bar-Hopping Tour is where – and when – to stop. We could suggest several undiluted experiences and never cross the same threshold twice. Still, tell us what your poison is and our resident aperitif therapist will take you on a unique, custom-tailored tour of some of the city’s coolest hot …]]> MBHT fi Doping

The only problem with designing a Milan Bar-Hopping Tour is where – and when – to stop. We could suggest several undiluted experiences and never cross the same threshold twice. Still, tell us what your poison is and our resident aperitif therapist will take you on a unique, custom-tailored tour of some of the city’s coolest hot spots. For example…

Terrazza Aperol, a racy classic, designed ad hoc with a hefty nod to the retro origins, the colour and even the bubbles of a spritz made with the evergreen, ever-orange, all-Italian aperitif. Its enduring popularity may owe something to the location: the terrace, at the entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, has a magnificent view over Piazza Duomo.

A few blocks north in trendy Brera, our favourites of the moment are Dry, where Guglielmo Miriello’s team of professionals serves up some of the headiest cocktails in town in an ex-industrial ambiance with perfect lighting (and great pizzas), and the contemporary Café at Marc by Marc Jacobs, all lit-up in vibrant blue and pink and spilling out onto Piazza del Carmine to accommodate a mob of fashionistas. If you’re a wine buff, though, N’Ombra de Vin could be just up your Brera street: it boasts professional sommeliers and a jaw-dropping wine list for tastings around the huge table in an atmospheric 15th century basement.

Heading a little north of the city centre into neighbourhoods all astir with renovation and redevelopment, Ceresio 7 is a sight to behold. This is the rooftop restaurant with pools and American bar opened by Dsquared2 twins Dean and Dan Caten to crown their new HQ. The interiors are all retro-modernist; the drinks American vintage with a potent local twist.

Superbly designed like a theatre set by art director Tanja Solci in what was once the family sawmill, Carlo e Camilla in Segheria, just south of the city centre this time, became the high-end cocktail and dining destination in 2014. And with Filippo Sisti at the bar, no one’s tiring of the cocktails any time soon.

Have we mentioned The Doping Club yet? More retro style and a British/US sporting theme with lots of intimate leather, rosewood, steel and jazz. A couple of moustachioed mixologists concoct the stimulants, among the best and most original in town. Concealed in a lovely Milanese courtyard at Porta Ticinese, trendy The Doping Club belongs to small, similarly-themed hotel The Yard.

And then of course, within spitting distance of The Doping Club but right on the Naviglio Grande, there’s more of that speakeasy atmosphere at Ugo: avant-garde drinks and delectable nibbles. Or, a little further down the canal, Pinch, with that blind tiger décor again and a barman-patron with a penchant for mixing Italian liqueurs and vermouths, revisiting old-time classics with contemporary flair.

Now there’s an appetizer if ever there was one. Contact mikaela@urbanitaly.com for more information and exclusive, bespoke hops – for their own sake or to round off any other Milan tour in glory.

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Florence | Recollection by Albricihttp://urbanitaly.com/shopping/clothes/florence-recollection-by-albrici.html http://urbanitaly.com/shopping/clothes/florence-recollection-by-albrici.html#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 17:11:36 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4038 recollection fi xIn Florence‘s Oltrarno district there’s a boutique as fascinating as a museum, a museum of 20th-century fashion. This is the ‘other’ side of the Arno, across the river from the hustle and bustle of the unique sights, the tourist traps and mainstream shopping. It’s a neighbourhood of independent traders, where there are still craft workshops, …]]> recollection fi x

In Florence‘s Oltrarno district there’s a boutique as fascinating as a museum, a museum of 20th-century fashion.

This is the ‘other’ side of the Arno, across the river from the hustle and bustle of the unique sights, the tourist traps and mainstream shopping. It’s a neighbourhood of independent traders, where there are still craft workshops, bakeries and vinerie established generations ago alongside more recent antiques, interiors and vintage shops. Here, then, in 2012, historic antiques dealer Albrici in Via dei Serragli branched out into fashion, vintage fashion, and opened a dedicated store next door. It’s called Recollection … Clever, that. And though the garments and accessories aren’t preserved in glass display cases, they do proclaim, in full colour, glorious shapes and not a little sparkle, the spellbinding history of haute couture through the 1900s.

Our clothes and accessories were once part of a collection, before dispersing in myriad combinations and eventually disappearing in forgotten closets. Here they are re-collected, stitch by stitch…  

        Alberto Albrici

Of the thousands of items in the Albrici re-collection, many are one-off dresses, tailor-made in Italy. The rest are limited editions – including shoes and bags – by the loftiest of international stylists, bespoke millinery, and a vast and gleaming range of costume jewellery. All in near-pristine condition.

Where do they come from? Alberto Albrici smiles when asked, and then tells how new arrivals always stem from new encounters with fascinating women and that most intimate, memory-linked part of their lives: their wardrobes. When, for whatever reason, those memories are let go, they’re welcomed into the store to tell their stories. Like the breathtaking gala wardrobe of Pupa Carmine Serandrei.

Alberto likes to showcase vintage that looks modern, rather than pushing a retro or costume aesthetic. The joy of shopping for vintage, he says, is in discovering something unique, unexpected and irresistible, be it an opulent gown, a 1950s cocktail dress, a trim ’60s suit or a romantic outfit from the ’70s. The trick is then to take the vintage piece and play it again in a contemporary key, creating a distinctive style that looks utterly new.

Whether you’re on the lookout for that amazing, one-of-a-kind dress that’ll redefine your look (and you), or just fascinated by the phenomenon that is fashion, set aside a hour or two for Recollection next time you’re in Florence.

Recollection by Albrici
Via dei Serragli 22R
50124 Firenze
+39 055 211095
recollection@albrici.com

 

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Turin | Turin Contemporary Art Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/turin-turin-contemporary-art-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/turin-turin-contemporary-art-tour.html#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 14:57:41 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4050 TCAT fiTurin, first capital and grande dame of Italy, was ever a stately hub of learning (and good food, and publishing, cinema, finance and sport, not to mention the once-thriving automobile industry). History abounds but post-industrial Turin flourishes, and contemporary art has become as much a speciality as bagna càuda, vermouth and gianduiotti. Guided by a …]]> TCAT fi

Turin, first capital and grande dame of Italy, was ever a stately hub of learning (and good food, and publishing, cinema, finance and sport, not to mention the once-thriving automobile industry). History abounds but post-industrial Turin flourishes, and contemporary art has become as much a speciality as bagna càuda, vermouth and gianduiotti.

Guided by a resident art expert, an Urban Italy Turin Contemporary Art Tour takes in the cream of museums, spaces and galleries at the leading edge of the art world. There’s an awful lot to choose from, and many are housed in fascinating ex-industrial premises. 

Let’s start at the Lingotto, the district renowned for its extraordinary 1920s FIAT factory later transformed by Renzo Piano. The Pinacoteca Agnelli, intimate and unmissable, is an ad hoc, futuristic addition up on the roof of that building (where the test track used to be). Its permanent collection includes works from the 1900s; temporary exhibitions are more present-day avant-garde.

Not far from the Lingotto complex, again – and significantly – occupying a disused industrial site, is the rather wonderful  Parco Arte Vivente or PAV, conceived by artist Piero Gilardi and designed by landscape architect Gianluca Cosmacini. In a sizeable park and an interactive indoor space for meetings workshops and studios, PAV explores all those pathways linking art and nature, ecology and biotechnology, artists and non-artists. The creative results include environmental installations, a mandala garden by Gilles Clément, an art project involving beekeeping, and much more of a similarly uncommon ilk.

Heading north, well worth a stop is the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, a spirited cultural institution entirely dedicated to contemporary visual arts and housed in a vast, purpose-designed structure by Claudio Silvestrin (on the site of a former car-parts factory) in Via Modane.  The Foundation works internationally with art-world  experts and emerging artists to present a range of educational activities as well as avant-garde exhibitions.  And right across the road is a sight to behold, public-space art at the intersection of Corso Lione and Corso Mediterraneo: the famous Igloo-Fountain by Mario Merz.

Which leads us nicely on to the Fondazione Merz itself, just a few blocks away in Via Limone. Founded in 2005 primarily to house and show the priceless legacy of the Milanese exponent of Arte Povera who lived and worked in Turin, it regularly places Merz’s works side by side with those of other contemporary artists or trends in comparative exhibitions. No prizes for guessing the origins of the structure: a fascinating example of 1930s industrial architecture, once part of the Lancia factory.

For a different kind of venue, how about the cutting-edge gallery established 45 years ago by Giorgio Persano. The prescient gallerista once welcomed and encouraged the artists of the Arte Povera movement, Merz among them. Today’s gallery in the San Donato quarter offers ample spaces for sizable experiments by the likes of  Lawrence Weiner, Michael  Biberstein, Jannis Kounellis, Lida Abdul, Jan Dibbets and well, too many more to list. And another private gallery we simply can’t ignore, again newly and felicitously housed in extra-large, ex-industrial spaces just north of downtown Turin is Galleria Franco Noero. It showcases works by emerging artists chiefly hailing from northern Europe and the US, specializing in site-specific installations, paintings and photography.

Back to the big museums with the Museo Ettore Fico, or MEF, up in the Barriera neighbourhood and bang in the middle of a huge urban renewal plan (of yet another abandoned industrial area), attracting studios, galleries and workshops from various artistic disciplines. Its cavernous spaces host exhibitions and various events focusing on modern and contemporary art.

And last of these, the GAM, Turin’s classic, public museum of modern art in the city centre.

There’s more.

We can’t leave Turin and it’s art scene without mentioning a couple of seasonal events. Luci d’Artista illuminates the city’s streets and squares with spectacular light installations by eminent artists from the beginning of November to mid January every year. And Artissima is the annual contemporary art trade fair, held over three days in early November at the Oval events centre at the Lingotto.

On the other hand, if we were to leave Turin… and head west for around 20km, we’d come to the Castello di Rivoli. Clearly there’s nothing ex-industrial about this location, on a hilltop overlooking the city – though it did house a brewery for a brief period in its eventful history as medieval castle, ducal then royal residence, barracks and shelter for the homeless, before restoration in the early 1980s. Admittedly,  the Castello is a little outside the range of an urban trek, but it is also unrivalled in Piedmont as a contemporary arts museum and – quite incidentally – houses Michelin-starred restaurant Combal.Zero too.

For more information and exclusive, tailor-made itineraries, contact mikaela@urbanitaly.com

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Rome | Caffè Braschihttp://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/rome-caffe-braschi.html http://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/rome-caffe-braschi.html#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:03:06 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3648 Caffe BraschiIt’s pretty much a given that you avoid the main tourist spots when choosing a bar or eatery in a city like Rome. Well here’s the exception that proves the rule. Caffè Braschi is just one of scores on Piazza Navona vying for the custom of all those travellers come to soak up the atmosphere of …]]> Caffe Braschi

It’s pretty much a given that you avoid the main tourist spots when choosing a bar or eatery in a city like Rome. Well here’s the exception that proves the rule. Caffè Braschi is just one of scores on Piazza Navona vying for the custom of all those travellers come to soak up the atmosphere of the Eternal City’s finest square and gaze at Bernini’s iconic fountain-sculpture, but it’s one of a kind. 

Superbly located in newly-renovated ground floor premises of magnificent Renaissance Palazzo Braschi, that of the Museo di Roma, Caffè Braschi is stylish in a disarmingly rustic sort of way, with a touch of the provençal.

That is, in fact, part of the concept behind the small, all-Roman catering set-up that runs it, ViVi Bistrot, founded by two enterprising women (and mothers) to serve up healthy food to adults and children in beautiful surroundings. They seem to have thought of everything.

Caffè Braschi opens at 10am so late breakfasts only, but deliciously just-out-of-the-oven and the coffee is great. Lunch menus are surprisingly varied, innovative, eclectic in ispiration, and built rigorously around organic, top-quality seasonal produce and a home-made ethic. Afternoon teas are a speciality here: they have a wide range of choice teas to choose from and sweet and savoury tea-time goodies, including home-made scones with real cream and jam – no kidding! And then comes the Roman aperitif, for which they’ve coined the term ApéRo’ : cocktails and a bounteous buffet of nibbles through to midnight.

Like the décor, presentation is unpolished, cottagey, artfully artless. Staff seem content to be where they are and do what they do. And again true to the ViVi Bistrot philosophy, Caffè Braschi is child-friendly. Is there more? Oh yes, they prepare urban picnic boxes to go. And it’s not even that expensive. 

No tourist trap, this, then. Customers come back again and again, and a lot of them are Romans.

They really did think of everything, Daniela Gazzini and Cristina Cattaneo. 

Caffè Braschi
Piazza Navona 2
00186 Roma
+39 06 6833779
braschi@vivibistrot.it

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Milan | Milan 20th-Century Design Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-20th-century-design-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-20th-century-design-tour.html#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:02:45 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4025 Milan 20CDT FIAnother Urban Italy-designed, expert-guided walking tour. This one probes the quintessential Milanese leitmotif of 20th century design: it takes you right inside the studios and workshops of designers and architects who shaped design history far beyond Italy’s borders, and delves into institutions dedicated exclusively to our theme. Achille Castiglioni (1918–2002) is a name practically synonymous …]]> Milan 20CDT FI

Another Urban Italy-designed, expert-guided walking tour. This one probes the quintessential Milanese leitmotif of 20th century design: it takes you right inside the studios and workshops of designers and architects who shaped design history far beyond Italy’s borders, and delves into institutions dedicated exclusively to our theme.

Achille Castiglioni (1918–2002) is a name practically synonymous with Italian industrial design. Where better to start the tour than his Piazza Castello studio, which opened to the public as a museum in a partnership with the Triennale di Milano in 2006, 4 years after his death. An immense archive of drawings and photographs, plans and models, prototypes and objects, books and films is conserved in this hallowed place, accumulated by Castiglioni over the span of a phenomenal 60-year career. He taught at universities in Turin and Milan, was a key player in the propitious designer-manufacturer partnerships of the era, and received countless accolades including nine Compasso d’Oro awards, the last in 1989 for having “elevated design  …. to the highest levels of culture”.

On to another temple of 2Oth century design, another studio-museum, that of Vico Magistretti (1920-2006) in Via Conservatorio. Parallel careers, though unlike Castiglione Magistretti  practised architecture all his life, combining it with design increasingly from the late 1960s as well as teaching at London’s Royal College of Art. He worked profusely with Cassina, Artemide and Oluce among others, and designed the iconic Maui chair for Kartell. He was awarded the British Chartered Society of Designers’ Gold Medal in 1986 and several Compasso d’Oro prizes, including one for lifetime achievement in 1994. New York’s MOMA and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, among others only slightly less prestigious, count his pieces in their permanent collections. The studio-museum combines original features with new installations for design and architecture exhibitions, and presents the legendary designer in ample video footage. 

The Triennale di Milano itself is the next, unmissable stop on our pilgrimage: contemporary and experimental design, architecture, urban planning, fashion and other visual/performing/media arts in all their combinations and permutations in this dedicated Design Museum and events venue. And just the place to take a lunch break too, at the DesignCafé and Restaurant, where the seating is a ‘revolving exhibition’ of over 100 design chairs and huge windows overlook the Triennale (Palazzo dell’Arte) gardens and the park beyond.

But for coffee let’s move on to another Milanese institution, the Design Library in the buzzing Tortona district of town. Now part of an international project, it’s a multi-media library and events space dedicated to international design, with a list of associates and contributors that reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the profession.

Good design is in all the things you notice. Great design is in all the things you don’t.

    Wim Hovens

Naturally a patron of the Design Library, overarching protagonist of the industrial design phenomenon in Italy and organizer of the Compasso d’Oro awards is ADI, the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (Castiglioni and Magistretti were among its founding members in 1956). Work on a brand new ADI HQ is due to be completed in spring 2015. The 5,000-square-metre ex-industrial space promises a permanent display of works that have won the prestigious award since its inception in 1954, as well as temporary exhibition and events halls. That’s definitely on our itinerary.

And to round off the Milan 20th-Century Design Tour, an aperitif at Ceresio 7, in what used to be the Electricity Board (ENEL) building on Via Ceresio. Canadian designer twins Dean and Dan Caten, otherwise known for their DSQUARED2 collections, have created the ultimate bar, restaurant and matching pools on the top floor of their new HQ. 

For more information and exclusive, tailor-made and/or themed itineraries, contact mikaela@urbanitaly.com

 

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Palma di Montechiaro| Mandranovahttp://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/palma-di-montechiaro-mandranova.html http://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/palma-di-montechiaro-mandranova.html#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 15:10:42 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3225 Mandranova fiLuxury-grade Sicilian hospitality of the genuine, farmhouse variety is what they do at Mandranova, a country district just outside Palma di Montechiaro. And if these sound like fictional names from a romantic novel, rest assured that the farm, the location, the cordial welcome and the food are as real as they are seductive. We’re not far …]]> Mandranova fi

Luxury-grade Sicilian hospitality of the genuine, farmhouse variety is what they do at Mandranova, a country district just outside Palma di Montechiaro. And if these sound like fictional names from a romantic novel, rest assured that the farm, the location, the cordial welcome and the food are as real as they are seductive.

We’re not far from Agrigento here, with its incredible UNESCO-listed Greek temple cluster, and only a few kilometres from some gorgeous beaches on the southern coast of the island. But Azienda Agricola Mandranova is also a working olive farm, where producing top-quality, single-varietal oils and preserves is a labour of love. And no less so, for growers and hosts Silvia and Giuseppe, is sharing all that bounty with travellers from afar.

To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything

        Goethe

They have 16 rooms including suites in the old farmhouse, surrounded by patios, gardens and luscious Mediterranean vegetation in spite of the arid Sicilian landscape beyond. Original architectural features and furniture that’s been in the family for generations define the décor and add depth to the experience. And there are two independent holiday homes in similar style, one which used to be the local railway station and the other a wine press. A former stone-built reservoir for irrigation water, perched on the hillside above the main house, has become a small but panoramic pool.

The other highlight of Mandranova is all to do with Silvia’s culinary passion and skills. Hers is the home-cooking served in the informal restaurant, based on traditional local or even family recipes and produce grown in the vegetable garden or not much further afield. And when not on restaurant duty she’s happy to show you how it’s done, with cookery classes daily, even on a one-to-one basis.  

Giuseppe, not to be outdone, finds time to accompany his guests on a tour of the olive groves and the press, and rounds it off with a flash course on the finer points of olive oil tasting. He can also fix you a boat trip along the coast in the dog days of summer, or mountain-biking excursions inland when it’s not quite so hot.

Azienda Agricola Mandranova
Contrada Mandranova
S.S. 115 – Km 217
92020 Palma di Montechiaro (AG)
+39 393 9862169
info@mandranova.com

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Venice | Contemporary Venice Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/venice-contemporary-venice-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/venice-contemporary-venice-tour.html#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 20:37:45 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3981 CVT fiArchitecture and art are inextricably linked in Venice, as indeed are the surviving architectural styles. Our Contemporary Venice Tour, a professional-guided urban trek, focuses on the architectural and places the accent decidedly on modern and contemporary. So while you might be temporarily seduced by the various masterpieces of Mauro Codussi (1440-1504), Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570), Andrea …]]> CVT fi

Architecture and art are inextricably linked in Venice, as indeed are the surviving architectural styles. Our Contemporary Venice Tour, a professional-guided urban trek, focuses on the architectural and places the accent decidedly on modern and contemporary. So while you might be temporarily seduced by the various masterpieces of Mauro Codussi (1440-1504), Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570), Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) or Baldassarre Longhena (1598-1682) along the way, your Venetian architect-guide will be gearing up to centuries XX and XXI, from Carlo Scarpa onwards.

What’s to see? Here are our suggestions, making their way more or less west to east on the main island (itself composed of 118 tiny islands or thereabouts… who’s counting?).

Main access point Piazzale Roma is a good place to start, not least because two conspicuous wholly-contemporary projects live at this address. One is the graceful if controversial arch of Santiago Calatrava’s Ponte della Costituzione, more commonly and prosaically known as the Calatrava Bridge. It opened for the business of crossing the Grand Canal at this focal point in 2008, after off-site construction in steel, glass and Istrian stone. The other is an addition by C+S to the Law Courts on the opposite side of the square, a compact geometrical volume reflecting the style of Venetian industrial buildings and the height of the huge car park next door, and wholly clad in pre-oxidised copper.

On the Grand Canal, in the historic district of Santa Croce, is Cà Corner della Regina, a superb seventeenth-century palazzo and the Venetian branch of the Fondazione Prada. The Milanese fashion house has been hosting contemporary arts events there (curated by Rem Koolhaas) since 2011, all the while restoring and adapting its small but exquisite share of the Venetian heritage.

Beyond the Rialto bridge and still on the shores of the Grand Canal, where Venetian nobles of yore vied to build the most magnificent family seat, is another arts foundation in another splendid palace. Palazzo Grassi is synonymous with the Fondazione François Pinault, which commissioned Tadao Ando in 2005 to restore neoclassical rooms for its collection and plan contemporary display spaces. The same maverick architect overhauled the Foundation’s second, stunning space, Punta della Dogana, a complex of monumental parallel warehouses on the triangular point at the other end of the Grand Canal, with a fascinating project to save it from water damage and forge unique exhibition halls.

Having jumped the Canal down to the Dorsoduro district for Punta della Dogana, we really should take a look at that temple of Venetian painting, the Gallerie dell’Accademia, and the renovations by Tobia Scarpa completed in 2013 which have doubled the museum area. And then wander down to the Fondamenta delle Zattere (where Venetians stroll and take one another’s measure while soaking up the views of La Giudecca across the water) for a rare spot of modernism in Casa Cicogna alle Zattere (Ignazio Gardella, 1958).

Back into San Marco now for Museo Mariano Fortuny, a favourite among natives. It’s dedicated largely to the fascinating life and works of the Spanish artist and his partner and muse Henriette Nigrin who worked and then lived here, one way or another, from 1898 until Fortuny’s death in 1949. It hosts contemporary art shows too. A stone’s throw away is La Fenice, Venice’s iconic opera house, rebuilt after a devastating fire in early 1996 to conservative plans by Aldo Rossi, and reopened in 2004.

Cà Giustinian of the majestic halls and design furnishings, HQ of the Biennale, lies at the very end of the Grand Canal, just short of Piazza San Marco. Its repair and revamp were completed in 2009. And on the square itself is the unmissable Negozio Olivetti of 1959, designed by Carlo Scarpa. A masterpiece of modern architecture, it’s also a design museum with a priceless collection of Olivetti typewriters and calculators.

We’re getting towards the eastern end of the island now – but not quite the end of our list.

Yet another arts foundation lives on splendid Campo Santa Maria Formosa: Fondazione Querini Stampalia. In a fascinating architectural complex, part of which dates back at least to the 1500s, are the sumptuous living quarters, library and collections of this venerable Venetian family, alongside twentieth-century interventions by Carlo Scarpa (1963), Valeriano Pastor (1982 to 1997) and Mario Botta (1994).

 And not far away is the Arsenale, a Byzantine complex of shipyards and armouries founded at the very beginning of the twelfth century and undergoing complex, long-term restoration. 50,000 square metres of it, half indoors and half out, are now one of the a stable venues of the Biennale.

And last, but only because it’s over on the little island of San Giorgio Maggiore (actually it is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore) come the architectural wonders in the care of another – you guessed! – no-profit cultural institution, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The complex consisting of church and Benedictine monastery was built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to plans by Andrea Palladio, Giovanni and Andrea Buora and Baldassarre Longhena. Vast contemporary exhibition spaces have been forged in lesser buildings, including a museum dedicated to the art and history of glass-making by Annabelle Selldorf, Le Stanze del Vetro (2012).

 

For more information and tours tailored to your needs and interests, contact mikaela@urbanitaly.com.

 

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Bologna | Lab Storehttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/bologna-lab-store.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/bologna-lab-store.html#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 15:25:15 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3944 labstore fiCreativity is unchained in the narrow streets of historic Bologna. Window displays on the corner where Via Marsala gives way to Piazza San Martino lure anyone with an eye for something a little extra-ordinary: the interiors reveal a store-cum-gallery-cum-workshop packed with design novelties and original artworks.                    …]]> labstore fi

Creativity is unchained in the narrow streets of historic Bologna. Window displays on the corner where Via Marsala gives way to Piazza San Martino lure anyone with an eye for something a little extra-ordinary: the interiors reveal a store-cum-gallery-cum-workshop packed with design novelties and original artworks.                   

Lab Store is all about experimenting. With design and craft techniques, with recycled and organic materials, with environmental and social sustainability, but also with state-of-the-art technology to create prototypes. Lab Store is, in fact, an offshoot of L.UN.A – Libera Università delle Arti, a showcase of some of the things they do and care about at this prestigious school of design, architecture, communications and marketing located just on the other side of Piazza Maggiore, in Via Massimo d’Azeglio.

So doing the R&D and flaunting their stuff at Lab Store are L.UN.A teaching staff and students, emerging and established designers, and even companies and institutions interested, one way or another, in innovating.

What you or I might find there are highly original, one-off and eco-friendly pieces of clothing (the hand-crafted garments by Lavgon are irresistable…), shoes, bags and other accessories, jewellery, ceramics, amazing furniture and lighting solutions – and various other arts and crafts too diverse to list. Much is for sale, some are prototypes on display. And there’s usually a themed exhibition too, like the current show of stunning artwork by people with disabilities working together in the Castello social coop near Milan.

But check dates and times for a hands-on experience too, because Lab Store does demonstrations, workshops and courses around advanced production techniques such as laser cutting and 3D printing. 

Lab Store
Via Marsala 25A
40126 Bologna
+39 051 267798
labstore@uniluna.com

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Milan | Milan Retail Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-retail-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-retail-tour.html#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:35:40 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3974 MJ for fiVibrant and innovative, Italy’s design capital is retail heaven. So packed with the flagships of international labels, stunning new concept spaces and entire districts of design and/or vintage chic, you could easily miss one of the current highlights. But not if your Milan experience takes the form of a walking tour masterfully guided by our …]]> MJ for fi

Vibrant and innovative, Italy’s design capital is retail heaven. So packed with the flagships of international labels, stunning new concept spaces and entire districts of design and/or vintage chic, you could easily miss one of the current highlights. But not if your Milan experience takes the form of a walking tour masterfully guided by our resident coolhunter, uniquely qualified to pick out those leading-edge boutiques and hybrid spaces which – never mind the goods on sale –  are revolutionizing the whole retail model. 

We suggest starting out in Brera, the city’s stylish heart, and more precisely in Piazza del Carmine now dominated by the new Marc Jacobs store. Brazenly chromatic, it carries the whole amazing range of clothing-bags-shoes-and-accessories for the delight of global fashionistas, who invariably meet up afterwards at the Café, part of the concept that spills out onto the square.

JV Store, a Milan exclusive in the Porta Venezia quarter, is a mandatory stopover for any design lover. Three storeys brilliantly created by the Janelli brothers themselves for Janelli & Volpi, brimming not only with their trademark wallpapers (printed to your own design too), wall-coverings and furnishing fabrics but also with extraordinary objects and accessories by internationally acclaimed designers.

And we couldn’t fail to show you Danese in Porta Romana, the legendary international design showroom frequented by the likes of Bruno Munari, Yves Behar and Enzo Mari over the years. It’s still as dynamic and innovative as ever, and we can take you behind the scenes.

Unmissable in Tortona-town is Sardinian designer Antonio Marras’ concept store. Accessed from a leafy yard in Via Cola di Rienzo, it’s housed in a stunning ex-industrial space all kitted out in perfect shabby chic. Alongside Marras’ latest extravagant collections are a tower of books, sundry artworks and comfy corners where you can linger over a coffee and some Sardinian sweetmeats from the bar.

No serious retail tour could pass over the exclusive space created by Rossana Orlandi, practically a cult figure in Milanese art and design circles. On two floors and structured around a typical leafy courtyard in the Magenta neighbourhood in the city centre, it is both gallery and store, and showcases superior vintage furnishings along with original contemporary art and design from young creatives the world over.

And last stop of your insider shopper’s experience could well be vintage clothing paradise Cavalli e Nastri, with its incredible and unique collection of haute couture from the 1900s in one of two locations in central Milan. 

At this point and still in a vintage state of mind, we’d close the tour with an aperitif and a stunning view from Giacomo’s, the restaurant in the lovely Museo del ‘900 on Piazza Duomo.

Therapy meets design research in Retail Milan. 

For more information, exclusive tailor-made tours and reservations, contact mikaela@urbanitaly.com.

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Pisa | De Bondthttp://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/pisa-de-bondt.html http://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/pisa-de-bondt.html#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 15:25:40 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3940 De Bondt fiDe Bondt is one of the Super Tuscans, chocolately-speaking. Up there with Amedei and La Molina, say, in that handful of extraordinary, rigourously artisanal chocolatiers that materialised around Pisa, Prato, Pistoia and the like a short generation ago, never to look back. The legendary Chantal Coady herself classified the newly established De Bondt brand among the global top 15 …]]> De Bondt fi

De Bondt is one of the Super Tuscans, chocolately-speaking. Up there with Amedei and La Molina, say, in that handful of extraordinary, rigourously artisanal chocolatiers that materialised around Pisa, Prato, Pistoia and the like a short generation ago, never to look back.

The legendary Chantal Coady herself classified the newly established De Bondt brand among the global top 15 twenty years ago. Tirelessly testing and tasting varieties of the prime ingredient and variants on choice pairings in their workshop near Pisa, founders Paul De Bondt and Cecilia Iacobelli have since attained and maintained a reliable record in the top 10, collecting a plethora of other national and international accolades along the way. You can’t argue with that.

What’s new, then? San Martino 82 is what. Well, actually, the new Casa De Bondt – chocolate factory and pâtisserie, café and store – opened last May but I only stumbled across it one very chilly afternoon it a few weeks ago, when a warm place and – coincidentally – hot chocolate were just what I had in mind.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Via San Martino. Right in the centre of town, running parallel to the River Arno, it used to be full of restorers’ workshops and antiques sellers alternating with the imposing portals of historic palazzi. Well, no more: but at least it now has this, a truly superior confectioner’s, at number 82.

To buy or try are coffees roasted by local expert Andrea Trinci; over 200 types of tea and infusions selected, imported, blended and/or flavoured by De Bondt; hot and cold chocolate drinks according to the season and various other beverages concocted on the spot. Cakes, pastries and desserts, as well as all the De Bondt chocolate and chocolates in multiple forms and flavours, are prepared on the premises, behind the glass wall of the kitchen at the back of the store in fact. And the rest of the ample shelf-space is filled with special spices (hundreds of them from every corner of the globe), sundry other sweet stuffs, and all the paraphernalia for making and serving tea and such like.

San Martino 82 occupies one of those ground floor shop-premises in a grand old building. It’s adorned with some fine frescoes but the rest of the décor is unpretentious-contemporary. The whole is light, airy and spacious enough to host courses, tastings and even events and parties in line with the concept that customers be treated as guests. 

Right now, with winter upon us, don’t miss the chance to cup your cold hands around a mug of hot De Bondt chocolate, flavoured to order. 

San Martino 82
Via San Martino 82
56125 Pisa
+39 050 2200285
debondt@mayasrl.eu

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