Written by our guest blogger Yidan Wang:
“‘Porta Genova,’ the woman said when I asked her where in Milan we might find furniture or lighting stores that would sell independent designs. Sitting behind an elegant white desk at Meritalia, she wore a colourful African head wrap and spoke in a manner with just the right amount of friendliness.
We continued to walk along Via Durini, passing by some of the world-renowned furniture shops. There were B&B Italia’s contemporary cosmopolitan lifestyle in display, Barovier & Toso’s fragmentedly mirrored reality lit by white Murano chandeliers, and Fendi Casa’s enormous monogram door, opening into a fur-armoured living room. As high maintenance as a living room could be.
At the end of Via Durini we walked down Via della Signora. A crew was filming 1992 with the Italian actor Stefano Accorsi outside the University of Milan. The sunlight shining through the Milanese mist added a more romantic notion to the scene.
Hanging out in Milan, I have always favoured the small streets tucked minutes away from Duomo, mainly because of my young and urbane Milanese friends who led a busy city life. We would have aperitivo in the Art Nouveau Victoria Café, or sometimes stumble upon a book talk or live music in a hip cocktail bar. There the girls often look immaculate all in black, and the men definitely know how to dress well. When it comes to style, men in Milan and Florence are naturals.
Duomo during the day could not be more overwhelming and annoying, just like any other touristy and overpopulated place. But what is so brilliant about Milan is not only a designer bottle of water with a mere price tag of three hundred euros, it is the fact that even a policeman on the street can easily amuse you with a line such as, ‘you’re going window shopping Via Montenapoleone? The new spring and summer collection just came out’. How quintessentially Milanese!
The next day before the flight back to London, we made a stop at Porta Genova, going south as suggested by the Meritalia woman. The part of Porta Genova near the metro was covered with Graffiti, making this side of Milan a bit like Barcelona or Berlin. Unfortunately for us, even though shops in Milan are closed on Monday mornings, this Sunday none of them appeared to be open either. The mission to speak with some quirky furniture and lighting stores failed miserably.
The day was sunny and warm. Turning on Via Savona, the neighbourhood became trendy, away from the city noises and chaos. Since a few years ago, a lot of big design houses have picked this area as the location of their warehouse showrooms. We were all very fond of the winter garden at Ermenegildo Zagna, where a vividly sculptured white dog laid lazily on a white bench and behind him, stood a white apple, as tall as the double height ground floor space.
We walked into Caffe Savona. The interior was contemporary with a raised kitchen behind its sleek bar. The clientele were artsy and glamorous. My gnocchi with spinach and blue cheese both smelled and tasted heavenly.
Having always cut it short, we had to run to catch the plane again. On the street, a man was playing violin. Incidentally, the melody was dramatic, echoing the panic mode we had just switched on. Whilst we realised we had misread our flight time, the violin also calmed down. Whether it was the irony, or the quintessential Italian drama, we had a good laugh.”