While I was in Milan last month, I made some time to go view an exhibition at the Triennale di Milano. It is a contemporary art museum located in Parco Sempione very close to the Cadorna train station. The show was titled ” The New Vocabulary of Italian Fashion”.
A few weeks ago I had posted about a visit to the shop Nonostante Marras in Milan, Italy. Along with the many things they sell in their boutique, they regularly feature local artists. Back in February I was introduced to artist/photographer Paolo Ventura. Boy, was I smitten.
This Italian born photographer creates scenes that are rich, dreamy and sometimes surreal. He does this by creating miniature sets into which he then places realistic dolls and props ~ then he photographs them. The result is part fantasy, part realism. They are captivating images that take you right into his nostalgic world.
His painstaking attention to detail is what makes them so charming. Ventura creates every detail from start to finish. He chooses the costumes (sometimes designing them himself), makes or sources the props and paints the dioramas. He also becomes part of the picture, putting himself in costumes and posing in front of the camera.
Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, away from the city center, away from the Brera, the Duomo, and the hustle and bustle of a typical downtown corridor lies a magical and wondrous place. Antonio Marras has created a place full of old world charm and whimsy. It is called Nonostante Marras. Translated as “despite Marras”, this shop is where Antonio showcases his RTW clothing line. But the experience is so much more than shopping a typical designer boutique.
Its humble entry leads you to an open courtyard filled with plants and if you wander for a little bit you will see Snow White and the seven dwarfs standing guard. Glance past the old factory windows, and you get excited at the thought to see what lies inside.
I just recently returned from my bi-yearly buying trip to Milan. I stay in what I like to think is a non-Milan neighborhood called the Navigli. When most people think of Milan, they think of chic shopping on Via Monte Napoleone, gazing the glass tiles of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II or touring the majestic and iconic Duomo. Don’t get me wrong, I like to do these things too. But I am most at home in the Navigli district. And though it’s mostly known for its late night activities. I like to experience it in the late afternoons and early evenings before the crowds of twenty-somethings take over the neighborhood bars.
Being a small business owner myself, I like to support small local businesses, whether I am Seattle or in another city. The Navigli is a neighborhood of hard working small establishments that are offering independent goods and experiences. Here is a very small guide on what to see, drink and eat while visiting this burrow of Milan.The easiest way to get there is to take Milan’s “Metropolitana” subway. Take the green line towards Abbiategrasso/Assago and get off at Porta Genova.
Start off your visit with a late lunch or an afternoon coffee at one of the many cafes along the Naviglio Grande. I particularly like to have lunch at L’Altro Luca e Andrea. A small cafe with delicious homemade pasta. Weather permitting, sit outside where you can watch the locals sipping their espressos or taking afternoon strolls.
When you finish lunch, walk along the Naviglio Grande. Ripa di Porta Ticinese and Alzaia Naviglio Grande are the two main roads in the Navigli. Pop into the bookstores, vintage furniture and clothing shops that flank both sides of the canal.
If you happen to be there during the flea market, you have hit the jackpot! Both sides of the canal are filled with over 400 vendors selling their antique and vintage collections. A must see occurrence that happens every last Sunday of the month.
The adjoining streets to the Naviglio Grande have some fun little independent designer shops and boutiques too. Along Via Corsico, a new discovery for me was a small little gallery shop called Brandstorming. This little shop features local artists who use found objects and recycled materials to create unique jewelry and gifts.
If you have room in your suitcase, check out and do not miss La Vineria on Via Casale. A wine distillery that makes and bottles there own wine blends. They also bottle olive oil which is my favorite thing to bring home. No room in your suitcases? You can still buy a bottle of wine and drink it in front of the shop. Feel like having a little treat? The Gelateria Orso Bianco up and across the street has wonderful organic frozen treats.