Mikaela Bandini's insider Italy http://urbanitaly.com the travel guide to contemporary Italy Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:34:21 +0000 en-EN hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Bologna | L’Inde Le Palaishttp://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/bologna-linde-le-palais.html http://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/bologna-linde-le-palais.html#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:30:49 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4197 L'inde le palais fiL’Inde Le Palais comes straight out of left field, tucked away as it is in the labyrinthine streets of old Bologna, overshadowed by the enormity of Piazza Maggiore and the Basilica di San Petronio. Ambling by or headed elsewhere, it’s easy to miss the shop front in historic Via dè Musei, and that would be a …]]> L'inde le palais fi

L’Inde Le Palais comes straight out of left field, tucked away as it is in the labyrinthine streets of old Bologna, overshadowed by the enormity of Piazza Maggiore and the Basilica di San Petronio. Ambling by or headed elsewhere, it’s easy to miss the shop front in historic Via dè Musei, and that would be a shame because it’s a great deal more than it seems.

Very much a concept store, L’Inde Le Palais fans out over two floors and 700 square metres, dedicated – in its own words – to beauty, luxury and sophistication.

For the most part that means haute fashion, women’s and men’s: clothing and all the accessories from a vast range of lofty and/or gritty collections stretching from classics Givenchy, Chanel, Emilio Pucci, Valentino etc. through visionary and niche designers like Gareth Pugh, Haider Ackermann or Peter Pilotto to offbeat lines and exclusive creations like those of Kd2024 or Our Exquisite Corpse. And these are but drops in an ocean of labels.

Another of those drops is in-house brand Amen, lately forging ahead in the international luxury market and boasting a new flagship store and showroom in Milan. For L’Inde Le Palais belongs to Jato, acronym for designer Jacopo Tonelli who launched Amen from his textiles and embroidery business just outside Bologna around 10 years ago.

But back to the store, where all this rare bounty is exquisitely displayed against a contemporary backdrop of bare, industrial-shabby walls and flooring enriched by ornate vintage frames, chandeliers and other occasional props: a seductive, 360° mise-en-scène you immediately want to photograph from every angle.

L’Inde Le Palais is also exclusive perfumes, selected books and interior design pieces, and has its own spa and beauty salon on the second floor. 

Another branch of the same creative project is Cafè Le Palais, under the ancient arcade right opposite, a refined boho-baroque hangout for followers of fashion. 

In line with the concept, both store and Cafè host some of the city’s more exclusive events. Valentino and John Galliano, to name just a couple, have been protagonists on the fashion scene, while the most recent was an exhibition of photographs by Alessandro Gui. The Cafè is a favourite venue for society receptions as well as concerts and vernissages.

All terribly swish and milanese in a Bologna better known, or perhaps stereotyped, as a hotbed of political and cultural radicals. But then Bologna is full of surprises. 

L’Inde Le Palais 
Via dè Musei 6 
40124 Bologna 
+39 051 6203015
customercare@lindelepalais.com

Cafe’ Le Palais 
Via dè Musei 4  
40124 Bologna 
+30 051 6486963 

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Bari | La Ciclaterahttp://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/bari-la-ciclatera.html http://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/bari-la-ciclatera.html#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:14:31 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4259 la ciclatera mokaNot so long ago it was a no-go area, even before dark. Nowadays a stroll through the labyrinthine alleys and under the many arches of medieval Bari or Bari Vecchia - restored, refined and respectable – is an engaging experience, worth making time for before catching a ferry or heading for Apulia’s more obvious attractions. It’s …]]> la ciclatera moka

Not so long ago it was a no-go area, even before dark. Nowadays a stroll through the labyrinthine alleys and under the many arches of medieval Bari or Bari Vecchia - restored, refined and respectable – is an engaging experience, worth making time for before catching a ferry or heading for Apulia’s more obvious attractions.

It’s said the old town, built on a spur of land projecting into the Adriatic Sea, was designed to confound invaders, and you’ll believe that as you lose any sense of direction among the weaving passages. But when you’re tired of wandering, key Corte Colagualano into your navigator app and head for La Ciclatera.

You’ll find a tiny café and bar in the shadow of the cathedral, where a low, vaulted ceiling and walls in exposed stone are offset by cosy upholsteries and damask panels, in a décor which borrows genially from art nouveau, boho and vintage all at once. Soft lighting and candles as well as a crack choice of background music enhance the aura. 

The host of this charming establishment and leader of a team of professionals is Massimo Vox. He opens almost every evening of the year at 7 pm to serve cocktails and beers with (or without) appetizers, toasted sandwiches, platters of cheeses and cured meats, as well as specialty coffees, teas, chocolate drinks and mouth-watering, home-made desserts. One of the trademarks is variously-flavoured coffee brewed and served in the iconic, household Moka coffee maker - la ciclatera in the local dialect. 

Indoors is intimate and atmospheric, a table outdoors in summer is a cool Bari vecchia experience. And you won’t be disappointed by the fare or dismayed by the bill.

La Ciclatera 
Corte Colagualano 36
70122 Bari
+39 333 3735155

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Florence | Soprarno Suiteshttp://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/florence-soprarno-suites.html http://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/florence-soprarno-suites.html#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 15:49:01 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4036 Soprano suites fresco fiForget about A Room with a View. Try waking instead to the sight of a gloriously frescoed ceiling in one of the gorgeously appointed chambers of a 16th-century Florentine palazzo. One of the Soprarno Suites, in other words.  Soprarno Suites is a new guesthouse with 10 rooms and a great deal of attitude, occupying the first and …]]> Soprano suites fresco fi

Forget about A Room with a View. Try waking instead to the sight of a gloriously frescoed ceiling in one of the gorgeously appointed chambers of a 16th-century Florentine palazzo. One of the Soprarno Suites, in other words. 

Soprarno Suites is a new guesthouse with 10 rooms and a great deal of attitude, occupying the first and second floors of one of many lovely old buildings in Via Maggio. The setting is historic, the hospitality utterly contemporary. Interiors are fashioned lavishly using antique and vintage pieces – as they were or reworked ad hoc - and original artworks, in ample spaces with warm wood or terracotta flooring. All mod cons are present and correct. 

It boasts a library, and breakfast is served in a kitchen available for guests’ own use too.

So impressive are the Soprarno Suites that I wasn’t surprised to find out who’s behind the project: a charming and talented graphic designer by the name of Betty Soldi, who I met while filming in Florence last year (she has a shop in the same street). Or, at least, Betty is one of the team that saw the premises beautifully renovated and conceived the design B&B. The others are a lawyer with a passion for art (Betty’s partner Matteo Perduca), an architect and a carpenter, and together they refer to themselves as …

…travellers who settled to accomodate other travellers, as a labour of love.

       Soprarno Suites

In Via Maggio, we’re in Florence‘s rive gauche again, the artisan neighbourhood south of the river. Palazzo Pitti is just around one corner, the Basilica di Santo Spirito around another. Five minutes’ stroll takes you to the Ponte Vecchio.

Who needs a view of the Arno anyway?

Soprarno Suites
Via Maggio 35
50125 Firenze
+39 055 0468718
info@soprarnosuites.com

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Rome | Mostly Rationalist Rome Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/architecture/modernist/rome-mostly-rationalist-rome-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/architecture/modernist/rome-mostly-rationalist-rome-tour.html#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 17:56:32 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4162 MRRT Palazzo Poste detail for fiSome of the highlights of architectural achievement in Rome during the 1900s (as promised), and the basis for another of our exclusive, tailor-made urban excursions guided by professionals with insider know-how. No better place to start than the Europa district, still better known by the acronym EUR for Esposizione Universale di Roma. That’s what Mussolini had …]]> MRRT Palazzo Poste detail for fi

Some of the highlights of architectural achievement in Rome during the 1900s (as promised), and the basis for another of our exclusive, tailor-made urban excursions guided by professionals with insider know-how.

No better place to start than the Europa district, still better known by the acronym EUR for Esposizione Universale di Roma. That’s what Mussolini had in mind when he commissioned plans for a whole new quarter of monumental buildings representative of the Fascist ideology (and with those trademark grandiose names) in an area south of the city centre, by which to impress the world. Expo 1942 never took place, of course, in Rome or anywhere else, but Italian rationalist architects had already had a field day before work ground to a halt during WWII.

If Marcello Piacentini was director of the whole project, the most impressive constructions were designed by others. The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is the emblematic centerpiece of the EUR, an icon of Fascist architecture also known as the ‘square colosseum’ (and recently rented out to fashion group Fendi). Entirely clad, like most of the others, in travertine marble and sporting a deal of symbolic statuary, it was designed by Giovanni GuerriniErnesto Bruno La Padula and Mario Romano and inaugurated in late 1940. The Palazzo dei Ricevimenti e dei Congressi by Adalberto Libera, started in 1938 but only completed 16 years later, is another fine example of its genre, as indeed is the building officially called Palazzo Mostra dell’Autarchia e del Corporativismo (which probably takes the cake for pompous naming) designed by Mario De Renzi, Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini and housing the state archives. And if this is your cup of tea, then at least another 3 or 4 squarely solid and imposing constructions (the Palazzo degli Uffici and the Basilica, for example, as well as the lake and the obelisk) are worth a look while we’re in the area.

A little closer to the centre is another pile by Libera and De Renzi, the Palazzo delle Poste (1935) in via Marmorata, shaped like a squared C. And more of a similar geometric ilk by Marcello Piacentini, with the new (1935) campus of La Sapienza university, the città universitaria  covering almost 440,000 square metres near Roma Termini railway station, and, along with Attilio Spaccarelli, Via della Conciliazione (1936), the grand thoroughfare connecting Piazza San Pietro to the west bank of the Tiber.

For a little respite from weighty rationalist edifices while we’re in this part of town, we could check out Basil Spence’s rather wonderful British Embassy building (1968-71) in Via XX Settembre. And then stop by the Quartiere Coppedè on our way north, going back in time to what rationalism was actually reacting against. It’s a compound of apartment buildings rather than a neighbourhood, fundamentally art nouveau but capriciously borrowing from a host of other styles, named after the architect, sculptor and decorator who planned it in 1915.

On we march northward to the Flaminio neighbourhood and Pier Luigi Nervi’s Palazzetto dello Sport. A 3,500-seat indoor arena designed for the 1960 Olympic games, its architect was actually Annibale Vitellozzi, but the signature reinforced, thin-shell concrete dome, diameter 61 metres and braced by flying buttresses, was engineered by Nervi. 

Still on the sporting theme but back where we started style-wise, across the Flaminio bridge is the area known as the Foro Italico, the vast sports complex imagined by Mussolini and planned by Enrico del Debbio by 1933 though not completed until 1968. While we’re there, the Palazzo della Farnesina (Enrico Del DebbioArnaldo Foschini and Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo, started 1937 finished 1959) is worth a look.

And to close the tour in a mood of glorious meditation, how about the awesome Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in the Parioli neighbourhood, designed by Paolo Portoghesi and  inaugurated in 1994, the biggest in Europe?

Contact mikaela(at)urbanitaly.com for more information and a customized tour, which could take in must-sees from the 21st century too.

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Tradate | Museo Fisognihttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/tradate-museo-fisogni.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/tradate-museo-fisogni.html#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:52:28 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4234 img-museo-fisogni-455x252A new museum, a singular theme, a private collection: meet the Museo Fisogni, where petrol pumps are finally admitted to the noble order of industrial design. An 18th-century country house in Tradate, between Varese and Milan, is now home to a museum of petroliana. Now that’s a new one on me, but it appears collecting old fuel dispensers, enamel …]]> img-museo-fisogni-455x252

A new museum, a singular theme, a private collection: meet the Museo Fisogni, where petrol pumps are finally admitted to the noble order of industrial design.

An 18th-century country house in Tradate, between Varese and Milan, is now home to a museum of petroliana. Now that’s a new one on me, but it appears collecting old fuel dispensers, enamel signs, globes, oil cans, pourers and funnels and all the other paraphernalia of filling stations is a perfectly respectable hobby with dedicated clubs and websites. And Giudo Fisogni is a master collector, such that the array he’d assembled was already a Guinness World Record holder 15 years ago.

There’s a story behind this, of course. Guido Fisogni’s business is construction and his speciality is building service stations. Sometime back in the early 1970s he saw an old petrol pump abandoned in a sand quarry. It was love at first sight; he had to take it home and look after it. Friends helped in sourcing more of the same, a craftsman was employed to restore the collectables, and soon there was a worthy display at the company HQ.

Now the whole collection, after 15 years in packing cases, is back in the limelight, scientifically ordered and exhibited with a wealth of historical information in a wing of the family home, renovated ad hoc. There are over 5000 pieces from all over the globe dating from 1892 to 1990, some of them unique.

The museum belongs to Milan’s Triennale Design Museum network. Its exhibits are examined by students of design and history of technology, and lent out to cinema, television and advertising productions as props. A glossy coffee-table book of professional photos stands in lieu of the exhibition catalogue and is orderable online

Museo Fisogni is open on Sunday and Monday mornings (9 to 12) and in the afternoon on Mondays too (2 to 6pm). Groups can book to be admitted at other times. It’s free unless you want to make a donation.

If petroliana doesn’t already do it for you, try it this way.

Museo Fisogni
Via Bianchi 23/25
21049 Tradate (VA)
+39 335 6777118
fisogni@museo-fisogni.org

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Milan | Milan Vintage Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-vintage-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-vintage-tour.html#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 17:03:20 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4224 Cavalli e nastriA contemporary urban expedition in a retro state of mind, that’s our Milan Vintage Tour. A  professional guide and design expert will lead you on the insiders’ route through some of the Lombard capital’s coolest neighbourhoods, stopping where nostalgia rules ok and venerable styles have the edge on this year’s models in concept, décor, clothing …]]> Cavalli e nastri

A contemporary urban expedition in a retro state of mind, that’s our Milan Vintage Tour. A  professional guide and design expert will lead you on the insiders’ route through some of the Lombard capital’s coolest neighbourhoods, stopping where nostalgia rules ok and venerable styles have the edge on this year’s models in concept, décor, clothing and accessories.

Now vintage is really at home in those areas that still have an authentic feel. So let’s start on the banks of the Navigli, the old canals south-west of centre, which really start to buzz as the sun sets. There’s a boutique hotel there, in a typical balustrade home with a gorgeous inner courtyard, which sets a benchmark for low-pressure vintage styling. It’s called Maison Borrella and will likely charm you to bits. In the same neighbourhood is a small showroom with a big name: Mauro Bolognesi is well-known to lovers of modern collectables in this neck of the woods, with an inspiring selection of designer furniture much of which hails from northern Europe.

A walk through Vicolo dei Lavandai, where women once did the laundry under a tiled canopy, is a must before leaving the area: it’s now an atmospheric setting for small restaurants and ateliers.

Zona Tortona next, or thereabouts: not far to walk and home to more vintage landmarks. The amazing Nonostante Marras concept store is one of them, a multifunctional space where retro fashions and the new Antonio Marras collections mingle with books, art and food in an eclectic vintage and/or upcycled setting. Then there’s Cavalli e Nastri, vintage clothing heaven and pretty much a classic by now, with three stores in central Milan – one dedicated to menswear – packed with haute couture from the 1900s.

On we go up into the heart of the city, and a couple of retro-interest stops in a labyrinthine old district that’s lately taken out a new lease of life, the Cinque Vie. The first is Wait and See, tucked away in a former convent in Via Santa Marta: a cosy concept store with a retro aesthetic and vintage pieces in a unique collection of womenswear and accessories sourced the world over by fashion and interiors designer Uberta Zambelletti. The other is Susanna Ausoni’s My Room. Stylist to the Milanese upper crust, she’s the pro to go to when you need the perfect outfit, selected from her own mix of new and vintage.

Pure, certified and exclusive vintage fashion, on the other hand, is what you get at the Vintage Delirium showroom, in a charming courtyard not far from La Scala. Franco Jacassi hails from the art world, and collecting is a habit. He has a stunning range of haute couture, fabrics and haberdashery dating from the 19th century to the 1980s, and his own collection of accessories exquisitely made up from vintage fabrics and trimmings.

Another exclusive courtyard space – and a must on almost any Milan tour – is Spazio Rossana Orlandi. Rossana is practically a cult figure in Milanese art and design circles. Her gallery-cum-store in a former factory in the Magenta neighbourhood showcases contemporary art and design by emerging creatives from all over the globe as well as fine vintage furnishings.

We should be heading south again for a well-earned aperitif now – but if anyone’s in need of attention in the hairdressing line, we’ll call at Gum, Milan’s coolest salon and barbershop with its perfect US vintage fittings and old-school formula of personal attention.

And the drinks? The Milan Vintage Tour will take you to Fonderie Milanesi, to sip on a classic cocktail in the 250-year-old former metal workshop. Or maybe to The Doping Club back in the Porta Ticinese area, getting trendier by the day: this is the refined, vintage-sports-theme cocktail bar at The Yard hotel. Or even back to the Navigli, where the night could be long at the exclusive 1930 club, hidden at the back of a seemingly ordinary bar, clearly inspired by the speakeasies of the era of prohibition.

Tempted? Contact mikaela(at)urbanitaly.com for more information and your bespoke Milan Vintage Tour.

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Siena | Osteria Il Vinaiohttp://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/siena-osteria-il-vinaio.html http://urbanitaly.com/food-wine/hot-spots/siena-osteria-il-vinaio.html#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 15:05:03 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=1766 Vinaio-0066-IMG_4217As Siena revs up for the Palio, serious devotees of the Contrada Sovrana dell‘Istrice - the Porcupine quarter – can be found enjoying a light breakfast of salted cod, anchovies in pesto or tripe – quite possibly all three – at Osteria Il Vinaio in Via di Camollia. Such is their tradition. Il Vinaio is one of those …]]> Vinaio-0066-IMG_4217

As Siena revs up for the Palio, serious devotees of the Contrada Sovrana dellIstrice - the Porcupine quarter – can be found enjoying a light breakfast of salted cod, anchovies in pesto or tripe – quite possibly all three – at Osteria Il Vinaio in Via di Camollia. Such is their tradition.

Il Vinaio is one of those wonderful taverns Tuscany does so well, where they shun refinement and stick to their traditional guns with good simple food, a merry mood and rudimentary décor. Neither shabby nor chic, just honest-to-goodness.

Brothers Bobbe and Davide Porciatti opened here a couple of years ago, after a glorious experience running a smaller but historic Siena eatery. This one’s roomier, with counter space enough for a full deli service. If not smack in the town centre, it’s still within the medieval walls, tucked beneath the brickwork vaults of one of the ancient buildings which once housed craftsmen and labourers on the historic Via Francigena pilgrim route. 

So the location changed, but not the winning style, or indeed the winged-pig logo.

Dishes at Bobbe and Davide’s osteria are as Tuscan as they come, traditional country recipes made up with genuine, organic ingredients, locally sourced and certified when not actually home-grown. Excellent wholesome crostiniminestre, sausages, meatballs, tongue and other such no-nonsense fare. And then the specialities: the cheeses, cured meats and pickles crowding the counter, from selected local producers. All washed down with a grand house red – their red – or a craft beer.

They’re open all day Monday to Saturday, 10am to10pm, for whatever kind of meal or snack. The mood is invariably jovial, irreverent. You can see it as you watch them, Bobbe, Davide and the rest of their ‘dream team’, enjoying hard work and principled fun. 

You won’t be dazzled by design, but you’ll likely come away feeling replete and warm inside with all that honest-to-goodness goodness.

Osteria Il Vinaio
Via di Camollia 167
53100 Siena
+39 0577 49615
info@osteriailvinaio.it

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Turin | Turin Contemporary Architecture Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/architecture/contemporary/turin-turin-contemporary-architecture-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/architecture/contemporary/turin-turin-contemporary-architecture-tour.html#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 20:46:40 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4151 Norman FosterAnother Urban Italy architour guided by professionals. This one takes you through one of the most fascinating urban reconstruction projects in Europe involving an entire city. Twentieth-century Turin was known as a one-company town. Turin was Fiat and Fiat was Turin. When that all-encompassing power began to wane, the city became a case study in …]]> Norman Foster

Another Urban Italy architour guided by professionals. This one takes you through one of the most fascinating urban reconstruction projects in Europe involving an entire city.

Twentieth-century Turin was known as a one-company town. Turin was Fiat and Fiat was Turin. When that all-encompassing power began to wane, the city became a case study in post-industrial rehabilitation. An original masterplan drawn up by Vittorio Gregotti in 1995 set the tone with its Spina Centrale, a futuristic, 6km north-south axis taking the place of the railway (which was to go underground). The Spina Centrale itself, development of the surrounding areas prosaically known as Spina 1,2,3 and 4, infrastructures for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games and celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy in 2011 are all steps in the ongoing process of making-over Turin.

Our tour follows the north-south axis too, starting with the post-industrial park planned and partly completed up in the Spina 3 area: Parco Dora. Modelled on similar situations in Germany’s Ruhr valley, the park by Latz and Partner sees green areas embrace industrial remains and exhumes the river from which it takes its name.

Nearby is another park, green in spirit as well as architecture. Envipark (2005) is an urban complex providing research, development and other services to businesses with eco-friendly plans, and is itself an ambitious green architecture project by Emilio Ambasz, transforming a former industrial site into a built landscape. Bordering on Parco Dora and unmissable is Mario Botta’s 2006 Chiesa del Santo Volto which pays visible and ample homage to the area’s industrial heritage.

Before hitting the centre, we could veer to the east for a passing look at Cineporto, a business centre for the film world inaugurated in 2008 and designed by local firm Baietto Battiato Bianco, and some of the new university buildings by Norman Foster (2013 with a membrane canopy roof), Camerana & Partners (2012) and Luciano Pia (2007) among others.

And then on to the new Porta Susa station, destined to be Turin’s main rail hub. From the outside, a glass and steel tunnel 385 metres long with a big dent. It was designed by Silvio D’Ascia collaborating with Arep and Agostino Magnaghi and inaugurated in early 2013. In the same Spina 2 zone but vertically arranged is the skyscraper (just short of 170 metres tall) by Renzo Piano for the Intesa Sanpaolo banking group, largely completed by 2013.

This brings us to the heart of the Spina Centrale axis, the earliest part as designed by Vittorio Gregotti and completed in 2001, where we stop to look at the impressive Officine Grandi Riparazioni. A massive industrial complex of around 200,000 square metres built at the end of the 19th century to produce and maintain rolling stock, much of it is now restored and converted as the city’s Politecnico university campus. Architects involved include Gregotti AssociatiStudio Valle, Baietto Battiato Bianco and Stefano Seita. The ambitious project isn’t yet finished, and other spaces are destined for the arts.

Still heading south past the famous igloo fountain by Mario Merz, with perhaps a detour to take in the Fondazione Sandretto and Fondazione Merz buildings included in our Turin Contemporary Art Tour, we reach the facilities designed for the 2006 Olympics. You could see the main sports hall or PalaOlimpico by Arata Isozaki; the Area Internazionale and athletes’ village by Camerana & Partners, Diener & Diener, Steidle,  Albert Constantin and others; the Palasport Tazzoli by Studio Lee and De Ferrari; the Arch by Hugh Dutton and the Oval by Hok. And more.

And this brings us down to the Lingotto, the extraordinary 1920s Fiat factory transformed by Renzo Piano into a public space housing a theatre, concert halls, a museum, a convention centre, shopping arcades, hotels and the Automotive Engineering School of the Politecnico. Practically next door is Italy’s first Eataly (Negozio Blu, 2007).

And a couple of blocks away, if you still have the energy, the all-new, aluminium-clad M.Au.To., the automobile museum designed by Cino Zucchi inaugurated in 2011; the Palavela made over for the Olympics by Gae Aulenti; and lastly another archistar skyscraper, the new Piedmont Regional HQ by Massimiliano Fuksas, still under construction.

That’s probably more than enough for one day.  And yet… if you’re an architecture lover, you really shouldn’t leave Turin without checking out the legendary works of Pier Luigi Nervi  and the genius of Carlo Mollino, both 20th century. Maybe they even deserve an itinerary of their own…

Contact mikaela(at)urbanitaly.com for more information or to arrange an exclusive, customised tour.

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Praiano | Casa Angelinahttp://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/praiano-casa-angelina.html http://urbanitaly.com/sleeping-around/praiano-casa-angelina.html#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 14:36:50 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4174 casangelina newfiFor unadulterated luxury on the Amalfi Coast, it’s hard to beat Casa Angelina. It’s a world apart: superbly appointed, unbelievably immaculate, utterly contemporary. And the views are simply and literally breathtaking. With 39 rooms or suites it’s hardly a boutique hotel, but Casa Angelina is small and discreet enough to feel intimate. It wears all five …]]> casangelina newfi

For unadulterated luxury on the Amalfi Coast, it’s hard to beat Casa Angelina. It’s a world apart: superbly appointed, unbelievably immaculate, utterly contemporary. And the views are simply and literally breathtaking.

With 39 rooms or suites it’s hardly a boutique hotel, but Casa Angelina is small and discreet enough to feel intimate. It wears all five stars with nonchalance, so that being there isn’t about being seen there: the concept is beachside and low-pressure. 

White prevails throughout and gives way only to natural hues and wooden flooring in the common areas and the splashes of colour of original artworks. So all windows become picture windows: white frames for endless blue sea, green vegetation and the rocky coastline stretching into a misty distance: beautifully contrived. Almost anything else would detract, so the design furnishing is minimalist.

Rooms in the main building, perched on the mountainside above Praiano, range from spacious signature suites on the uppermost floor, each with its own huge panoramic terrace and more hi-tech gadgets than you’ll be bothered to use, to classic doubles still with balconies and sea views.

Down below and almost on the beach, accessed via the lift and a fair number of steps, are four more gorgeous rooms in what used to be fishermen’s cottages: just a touch of their rustic charm is retained in patches of exposed rock. (They’re named, by the way, after the Sirens and other females characters in Homer’s Odyssey – I can’t resist this – and staying there is the EAUDESEA Experience…!) They’re potentially independent of the rest, having their own little eatery and staff for breakfasts and other light meals cooked to order.

The hotel bar with its cliff-edge terrace is perfect for sundowners. And Casa Angelina has its own gourmet restaurant, Un Piano nel Cielo, where chef Vincenzo Vanacore sources the freshest produce – including lots of fish and seafood – locally. It’s on the top floor of the hotel and faces west, so whether you’re inside or out on the ample terrace, you dine watching the sun set over the Tyrrhenian Sea. They know their wines too. 

The outdoor pool has a sundeck flanked by yet another restaurant serving light meals and snacks, while the indoor pool is among the stylish spa-treatment and cutting-edge gym facilities. Even these have sea views!

And yet there is more to the Amalfi Coast. And you have only to request concierge services and the hotel’s private boat to relish it all.

Pure luxury, as I said.

Casa Angelina
Via Capriglione 147
84010 Praiano
+39 089 8131333
info@casangelina.com

 

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Milan | Milan Tortona Tourhttp://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-tortona-tour.html http://urbanitaly.com/art-design/milan-milan-tortona-tour.html#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:39:48 +0000 http://urbanitaly.com/?p=4118 zonatortona_salonedelmobileAn Urban Italy walking tour in the former industrial area south-west of central Milan. Industry is back, and how, but now it’s all about creative energy. Zona Tortona has become one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods, where architects strut their stuff in real-estate conversions and boundless talent is liberally applied to fashion and design. Zona …]]> zonatortona_salonedelmobile

An Urban Italy walking tour in the former industrial area south-west of central Milan. Industry is back, and how, but now it’s all about creative energy. Zona Tortona has become one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods, where architects strut their stuff in real-estate conversions and boundless talent is liberally applied to fashion and design.

Zona Tortona climaxes every year during Milano Design Week’s Fuorisalone, when a swarm of global visionaries and design junkies descend to show or soak up what’s new, network and party in some of the most fascinating locations. Still, the area buzzes all year round with the vibes from art studios, design workshops, showrooms, stores and multifunctional spaces. Our expert guide guarantees an insider experience of architecture and design hotspots and introduces you to some of the protagonists.

We start out at the Design Library in Via Savona, now a veritable institution of the design scene in Milan (plus branches in Shanghai and Istanbul too) with its multimedia library, cosmopolitan café and regular events featuring eminent architects and designers. No better place for a briefing on the area and its history.

A stone’s throw away, in Via Bergognone, we’d take a passing look at the former Post Office buildings reworked by Mario Cucinella Architects for Hines in 2004, now the Milanese offices of Deloitte. And then stop, just a few doors along, at Teatro Armani, commissioned by Giorgio Armani in 2000 to host his fashion shows and just about any other event. Tadao Ando was the architect called in to makeover the former Nestlé factory: he came up with 3400 square metres of minimalist elegance featuring bare concrete, water and light.

On to mega-venue complex Superstudio Più in Via Tortona, created from the former Milanese HQ of General Electric by renovating existing volumes and adding new ones, the work of Flavio Lucchini of the original Superstudio and architects Giorgio Longoni and Marco Sironi. 10,000 square metres in all, with variously-sized spaces and facilities needed for exhibitions, fairs, performances, conventions and studios in all the creative disciplines. It boasts innovative concepts such as MyOwnGallery, a concept gallery for contemporary art events, and two design eateries: the Dada Café with interiors by Slide and panel sculptures by Flavio Lucchini himself, and the Superstudio Café from a project by Michele De Lucchi.

Enclosed by Via Borgognone, Via Tortona and Via Stendhal is the fascinating and historic former Ansaldo engineering works – all of 70,000 square metres, taken over by the Municipality in the 1990s as a generic space for the arts. Area Ex Ansaldo is variously occupied by cultural associations, the Teatro alla Scala and as a unique venue for Design Week and Fashion Week. It’s now also the site of the brand new MUDEC, the Museum of Cultures designed by David Chipperfield. Now that’s worth a look.

Another brief stroll brings us to Tortona 37, or one of the liveliest hubs of fashion and design in Europe. Five new blocks of 6 floors surrounding a courtyard garden were completed in 2009 on another ex-industrial site to plans by Matteo Thun and Partners including avant-garde measures for energy efficiency and environmental impact. It offers lofts, showrooms, workshops, offices and all the services required for temporary venues.

And right next door is the Nhow Hotel, opened in 2006 but still a design landmark with interiors by Matteo Thun brimming with cult pieces. It’s as much a gallery as a hotel, celebrating art and design in ever-changing exhibitions and hosting showrooms and studios. We take you inside.

Via Stendhal and Via Savona are favoured by the big fashion houses, with the showrooms of Diesel, Allegri, Fendi (a recent makeover by Marco Costanzi Architects in premises previously occupied by the Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro), Ermenegildo Zegna, Hogan and Stone Island, among others. But there’s also Roda furnishings, arts publisher Corraini’s 121+ bookshop, and more.

Just around the corner, back in Via Bergognone, is a roomy exhibition space dedicated to architecture: Spazio FMG. We can call in to check out their current show.

Our last stop would be another hotel – with a difference. Magna Pars Suites, hi-tech and eco-friendly,  is also a fragrance hotel, the first of its kind when it opened in 2013. Designed by Luciano Colombo, its luxury suites are each inspired by a different essence, while furnishings are by the top, all-Italian brands or locally crafted ad hoc. No better way to round off the Milan Tortona Tour than with glass in hand at the elegant hotel bar Liquidambar.

Pick and mix for a customised tour. Contact mikaela(at)urbanitaly.com for more information.

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