Grazie Leonardo—Food, Fashion, and Everything Fabulous in Milan
With the tails of a long, linen apron rustling behind her, the woman clutched a gorgeous red pepper in one hand and the most amazing tomato I have ever seen in her other hand. You could see the sun baked into this tomato. I know how it divine it must smell. I want this tomato. Just olive oil and some salt. Maybe not even. Ok, I digress. Tomatoes, they do that to me. Tomatoes, well, and Sicilian men. Not necessarily in that order. OK, tomatoes first, always. Yes, tomatoes first.
The woman quickly ducked back into the café (my afternoon hangout near a friend’s apartment on Piazza Risorgimento). She was preparing lunch for a handful of customers and had clearly run out of ingredients. How convenient for her that the fruit man is next door. How convenient to have my gelato spot (coconut and pistachio are my faves) next to my afternoon hangout. How convenient that literally downstairs from my apartment was La Cantina di Manuela (frequented by employees of Dolce & Gabbana which is headquartered just around the corner) so I can satisfy my craving for the most perfect tuna carpaccio.
OK, you’re thinking that I never left the 20 or so yards around my Milanese abode. I did, really. Just a couple weeks prior, I spent my Milan time at the Four Seasons. A dramatically reborn 15th-century convent with only 118 rooms and suites, the intimate property encompasses service and style. My room suite faced the inner courtyard, offering exceptional quiet within this busy neighborhood.
Interiors blend the original architectural details – frescoes, columns and vaulted ceilings – with a sense of contemporary chic. Each room is a unique reflection of Italian design, with Fortuny fabrics, Frette linens, custom-loomed carpets and custom-designed sycamore burl and pear cabinetry. La Prarie bath amenities highlighted the opulent marble bathrooms and deep soaking tub (there was actually a sign that told me that the bathtub filled in 90 seconds). Mario brought my espresso each morning and lovely little cookies and fresh fruit. This hotel makes you feel like you have your own private staff. Everything – from my morning coffee to my evening aperitivo – was seamless.
The famed hotel is situated in the epicenter of Milanese fashion on Via Gesù, conveniently tucked in between acclaimed Via Monte Napoleone and Via della Spiga. You can’t walk out of the hotel without quite literally bumping into designer boutiques. This turns running next door for a tomato into running into Prada because you left your clutch at home. Which then turns into running into Missoni for a caftan to bring to Porto Cervo for the weekend, because, well, you didn’t leave your caftan at home, but this one is so, necessary? And it was July sales!
Four Seasons Milan’s Head Concierge Leonardo insisted I try the new Il Bacaro al Sambuco for lunch (it opened a week ago! I must!). So after the new caftan (it was 40% off after all) and the clutch, I made the short walk around the corner to the restaurant. Only about six tables dotted the inside courtyard. Seashell pink peonies filled massive hammered metal vases, while verdant green succulent plants accented the celadon blue metal slabs that served as tabletops on rot iron bases. Night-blooming jasmine climbed the walls and I made a mental note to come back and smell the intoxicating flower this evening. Just because.
The menu was a mix of sandwiches, salads, and pastas, but the highlight (as told to me by Leonardo) was the risotto alla veneziana con fornetto di pesce. “You will eat the risotto,” he said. He was right. I most certainly ate it. I reveled in its delicate broth. Pink gamberioni (prawns) poked out of perfectly prepared aborio rice. Grazie Leonardo.
The next day, I headed out to give a nod to another Leonardo, at da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The 15th century mural painting is nearly impossible to see (tickets need to be purchased at least two months in advance), but I combined it with a walking tour of the key historical spots in Milan through My Special Guest, a travel company based in Milan. The inspirational masterpiece has been restored many times (to much controversary), but the last restoration brought newfound magic to Da Vinci’s original brushstrokes. The silence of the refectory is mystifying and indeed I said again, Grazie Leonardo.
Four Seasons Milano
Via Gesù, 6/8
20121 Milano, Italy
Tel. + 39-02-77088
Attention all Shoppers!
The Four Seasons Milano is running a shopping package for the summer, which includes two nights accommodation, American breakfast daily, special welcome amenity, three-course lunch or dinner for two guests, shopping privileges in select stores and a discount of 20% in all limousine services. Low season rates run from July 30-September 8, 2010 and start at 1200 Euro for a superior room. Book at Four Seasons or email directly to: mil.reservations @ fourseasons.com.
Il Bacaro al Sambuco
Via Monto Napoleone 13
Open from noon to 15h. Snack menu from 16h-18h.
Ingresso Via S.Andrea 8, Via Monte Napoleone
Via Monte Napoleone, 6
For the nearly impossible tickets to The Last Supper, book it with a combined walking tour of historical Milan hot spots. Contact My Special Guest:
info @ myspecialguest.com
La Cantina di Manuela
Via Carlo Poerio 3, Milano
Corso Concordia, 11, Milano
Via Carlo Poerio (adjacent to Gelateria)