Mikaela Bandini's insider Italy http://urbanitaly.com the travel guide to contemporary Italy Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:48:13 +0000 en-EN hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 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 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 …

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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 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 …

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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 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 …

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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 fi2
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.                    …

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labstore fi2

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 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 …

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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 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 …

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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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Naples | Naples Art&Design Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/naples-naples-artdesign-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/naples-naples-artdesign-tour.html#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 22:25:52 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3949
Naples ADT Toledo fi
If you thought Naples didn’t have a lot to offer in the way of contemporary art, it’s time to think again – and take a walk in the company of our professional guide. The place is actually in a state of artistic fermentation second to none in Europe, with the public sector amazingly leading the …

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Naples ADT Toledo fi

If you thought Naples didn’t have a lot to offer in the way of contemporary art, it’s time to think again – and take a walk in the company of our professional guide. The place is actually in a state of artistic fermentation second to none in Europe, with the public sector amazingly leading the way.

In Naples, you see, the underground art scene is an expression with a quite literal meaning. Something like 15 Subway stations are stazioni d’arte: not daubed with the gothic fantasies of perennially dissatisfied youth but designed by archistars (among whom Dominique Perrault and Oscar Tusquets Blanca, just to drop a name or two…) around stunning installations such as those by Karim Rashid at the Università station, Joseph Kosuth and Jannis Kounellis at DanteFranco Scognamiglio and Maria Cristina Crespo at Augusto, Sol LeWitt at Materdeiand so on. It’s a far-reaching project initiated some 15 years ago and still ongoing. See to believe.

Now that’s an awful lot of art, and we haven’t even started on the museums. Take the Madre, three whole floors of a grand 19th-century palazzo in the heart of historic Naples, redesigned by Alvaro Siza and devoted to contemporary arts. And another having the same calling, the Museo Nitsch. The Plart is one we’ve already had good reason to write about on Urban Italy. Avant-garde only at The Fondazione Morra Greco. And then there’s a mercurial exhibition space utterly transformed by whichever artist is showing: the Museo Apparente. And if you can take any more, there’s always the contemporary collection at the Capodimonte national museum.

On to the galleries? Naples has some of the finest spaces, owners and dealers in the art business. Lia Rumma is a legendary Milanese gallerista who chose to open her second space right here. And of course Studio Trisorio with traditional and new media on the Riviera di Chiaia; Alfonso Artiaco where Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt and Carl André have exhibited; Casamadre gallery; La Casaforte in the Spanish Quarter, a private/public space where where Antonio Sacco, Valeria Borrelli and family live, work and host artists and shows; and others too numerous to list.

And that brings to mind a host of ateliers where we’ll find artists and designers on the job. Michele Iodice is an old friend, unmissable. But you might want to visit interior designer Franco della Femmina and photographers Luciano Ferrara and Luciano Romano. Or you could see installations (video and not) by Marisa Albanese,  the beautiful, recurring-motif panels painted by Sergio Fermariello, wall paintings by Mariangela Levita and just about anything from eclectic artist/designer Riccardo Dalisi. This is not an exhaustive list.

Now if this is beginning to sound exhausting, bear in mind that time-outs and refueling stops are allowed.

Retail downtime on the art&design theme could include checking out Idem for Marietta Tramontano’s gorgeous bags and other accessories, or E. Marinella for the finest neckties and tailoring, strictly Made in Naples. Or taking in fabulous design jewellery by Paola Grande or some home restyling ideas at La Casa Brutta, for example. Just let us know your druthers.

Refreshment with the arts in mind is available at Trip and Spazio Nea, while cooking is an art for Mario Avallone of La Stanza del Gusto. But enough: it’s a given that you’ll eat well in Naples, whatever you fancy, and your Naples Art&Design Tour guide is an expert.

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

 

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Milan | Palazzo Segretihttp://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/milan-palazzo-segreti.html http://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/milan-palazzo-segreti.html#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 14:33:59 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3804
Pal Seg fi
It may sound paradoxical, but a period palazzo bang in the bustling heart of Milan harbours what must be its coolest contemporary sanctuary. Palazzo Segreti is within shouting distance of Piazza della Scala. A handsome nineteenth-century building in Via San Tomaso, one imagines its original discreet interiors, elegant rooms and sober décor. And that’s what …

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Pal Seg fi

It may sound paradoxical, but a period palazzo bang in the bustling heart of Milan harbours what must be its coolest contemporary sanctuary.

Palazzo Segreti is within shouting distance of Piazza della Scala. A handsome nineteenth-century building in Via San Tomaso, one imagines its original discreet interiors, elegant rooms and sober décor. And that’s what you get when you stay in this luxury hotel. But the hushed, intimate atmosphere’s been recreated with raw concrete walls, wood plank flooring and lots of gusty iron among the furnishings. Add to those a generous scattering of state-of-the-art design furniture in warm colours that sing but piano, and perfect soft lighting that enhances the mystery of the shadows, and voilà Hotel Palazzo Segreti.

It has 18 rooms, including 3 suites, spread over 4 floors. No two are the same, but they all have clean, simple lines, ultra-modern furnishings, hi-tech fittings, spacious, seductive bathrooms, and again that atmosphere of quiet and secrecy.

And then there’s the lounge-cum-wine bar - complete with art exhibits provided by the Lia Rumma gallery – where the freshest and manically selected organic and craft products make up bounteous sweet and savoury breakfasts and light dinners of cold cuts and cheeses.

Hotel Palazzo Segreti is the dream-turned-reality of Roberta and Francesco Tibaldi (marketing expert and designer respectively), their ideal guest house. They called in architects Antonio Brizzi and Babette Riefenstahl for the renovation.

Palazzo Segreti
Via San Tomaso 8
Milano
+39 02 49529250
info@palazzosegreti.com

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Rome | Palazzo Montemartinihttp://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/rome-palazzo-montemartini.html http://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/rome-palazzo-montemartini.html#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:01:45 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3928
pal mont fi
Epicurus himself couldn’t have faulted it, and he’d probably have felt quite at home in the location. Palazzo Montemartini is Rome’s latest, no-holds-barred luxury hotel, practically across the road from the main railway station and, more to the point, within a still-undiscovered mosaic or two of the Baths of Diocletian and practically on top of the …

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pal mont fi

Epicurus himself couldn’t have faulted it, and he’d probably have felt quite at home in the location. Palazzo Montemartini is Rome’s latest, no-holds-barred luxury hotel, practically across the road from the main railway station and, more to the point, within a still-undiscovered mosaic or two of the Baths of Diocletian and practically on top of the 4th-century Servian Wall.

Inspired by the majestic ancient spa next door, Palazzo Montemartini sports a spectacular zen cascade in its restaurant, a water feature in the lobby, and a rival (but of course utterly contemporary) spa of its own: consummately appointed, 600-square-metre ExPure Spa and Beauty, complete with sound therapy and salt room.

Senses restaurant and lounge bar is another bid for the hedonists: a superb Roman-palatial ambiance, sophisticated cuisine which adds eclectic flourishes to Italian traditions, and views over the archaeological treasures mentioned above. 

No boutique hotel, this one, but 5-star sumptuousness and services (including conference facilities) on a grandish scale, where hi-tech and ultra-modern elements commingle with the generous spaces, marbles and stuccos of the late 19th-century palazzo.

If the 82 rooms or suites are all individually furnished and decorated, the general style is contemporary white, blatantly elegant, a tad flat. Some are standards, some come with their own spa and fitness equipment, some are business suites with a meeting room, a couple have a small terrace or winter garden, and lastly there’s a penthouse suite which is actually a sizeable apartment suited for private events.

Palazzo Montemartini opened just a month ago. Our private concierge Valentina went to the eye-popping, jaw-dropping opening and, after getting her eyes and jaw under control, took the pictures. 

Palazzo Montemartini 
Largo Giovanni Montemartini
00185 Roma
+39 06 45661 
info@palazzomontemartini.com 

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Milan | Milan Skyline Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/architecture/contemporary/milan-milan-skyline-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/architecture/contemporary/milan-milan-skyline-tour.html#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:15:34 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=3916
MSTOUR
An expert-guided walking tour among the stunning skyscrapers, the plush, green infrastructures and the radical retail spaces of one of Europe’s most impressive urban regeneration sites, Porta Nuova. This is Milan’s brand new, ritzy business district, designed by 20 world-class architecture studios from 8 countries and crucially located right between the historic heart of the …

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MSTOUR

An expert-guided walking tour among the stunning skyscrapers, the plush, green infrastructures and the radical retail spaces of one of Europe’s most impressive urban regeneration sites, Porta Nuova.

This is Milan’s brand new, ritzy business district, designed by 20 world-class architecture studios from 8 countries and crucially located right between the historic heart of the city and its central railway station in the Garibaldi, Isola and Varesine neighbourhoods. If the 290,000 square-metre area is still a vast work in progress racing against the Expo 2015 deadline, there’s enough of Porta Nuova up and running to guarantee a fascinating visit. And that’s what you’ll get with the Urban Italy Milan Skyline Tour.

Piazza XXV Aprile is where we start, in the Garibaldi quarter, and the first stop has to be bakery Princi designed by Antonio Citterio. On to Eataly Smeraldo and then more shopping heaven at the Cargo HighTech store, a former ink factory now packed with design objects, fashion accessories and perfumes. We check out Dammann Frères boutique with its incredible selection of teas and herbal infusions, and then head on down Corso Como into the now legendary world of Carla Sozzani, 10 Corso Como, where fashion, art design and cuisine meet in an amazing space designed by Kris Ruhs.

Next calls are the Residenze di Corso Como by architects Muñoz + Albin in collaboration with Milanese Tekne; pedestrian Corso Como District, a fashion, design and culture hub where the Costume National store occupies just one of 50 new spaces; and the 4@1 Home apartments – all you need and desire in just 40 square metres – created by Dolce Vita Homes along with Coima Image and Nauta Yachts.

The tour then hits Piazza Gae Aulenti, already a must-go for its skyscrapers, water features, plays of light and not least its art installations:  Alberto Garutti’s 23 gilded ‘trumpets’ connect the square with underground sounds, while eco-lighting comes courtesy of a Solar Tree designed by Ross Lovegrove and given to the city of Milan by Artemide.

Here it’s wise to halt while we do a little star-gazing, architecturally speaking, to take in the full spectacle of the spanking-new Hines complex, including the Piuarch Porta Nuova building and the unmissable Unicredit tower (Italy’s tallest at 230m) designed by Cesar Pelli. Silvery-white and sinuous, it houses – just to give you an idea – the Alexander McQueen showroom, the Porta Nuova InfoPoint where you can browse the plans and models for the whole area, the spectacular Nike store and concept bookstore Feltrinelli RED, where RED stands for Read, Eat, Dream and provides the wherewithal for all three.

On we go to see La Corte Verde di Corso Como designed by Cino Zucchi Architetti, and then into Via De Cristoforis to ogle the displays at Y3, passing the Virgin Active Classic gym, the AXA insurers building and the Porta Garibaldi railway station in the shadow of the renovated twin Post Office towers.

We’re now heading into the Isola quarter of Porta Nuova and right up ahead is the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), the two residential towers designed by Milanese architect Stefano Boeri for Expo 2015 and hosting around 900 trees on its many terraces. Next door is William McDonough‘s new Google Italia HQ, where Pandora used to be.

In the heart of the Isola quarter, the nerve centre of the city, we stop to visit the Casa della Memoria and then the Fondazione Riccardo Catella, housed in a small art nouveau palazzo. On the ground floor of the same building is Ratanà restaurant, serving contemporary versions of typical Milanese fare. 

LIncubatore per l’Arte in Via De Castillia is our next call, a space devoted to social and cultural happenings and budding crafts enterprises. And then we swing by the covered piazza in Palazzo Lombardia, a zero-emissions skyscraper designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York and Milan’s Caputo Partnership and Sistema Duemila.

We’re into the last stage of our trek now, approaching Porta Nuova Varesine and the three residential towers called Solea, Aria and Solaria deigned by Miami studio Arquitectonica along with Caputo Partnership again, and, in Via Vincenzo Monti, the Porta Nuova Villas in a more traditional residential style as conceived by M2P Associati of Milan. The last stop is at the foot of the steel and glass Diamond Tower, a multifaceted jewel 137 metres tall designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, emblematic of the new Milanese skyline. 

 The Milan Skyline Tour described above lasts around 6 hours and takes advantage of green pedestrian routes that link the parts of Porta Nuova. For more information, tailor-made tours and reservations, contact mikaela@urbanitaly.com.

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