Eat, shop and sleep your way round a de­sign cap­i­tal of the world.

Simply You Style - - Contents - WORDS: JOELLE THOM­SON.

– eat, shop and sleep your way round a de­sign cap­i­tal of the world

Style and seren­ity take on a whole new mean­ing when you wake in the mid­dle of Mi­lan’s fash­ion dis­trict, with traf­fic on one side and a vast, tree-lined court­yard on the other. It’s so quiet at Mi­lan’s Four Sea­sons Ho­tel that you can sleep with the win­dows open and wake to the sound of very lit­tle. It feels like you have been trans­ported to the mid­dle of the Tus­can coun­try­side, ex­cept that the ho­tel of­fers the best of both worlds – Via Mon­te­napoleone is within five min­utes’ walk.

This street is a fash­ion­ista’s par­adise, home to ev­ery big name de­signer imag­in­able. Be pre­pared for eye-wa­ter­ing prices and to be wooed by gar­ments un­seen in many other cities, from the top names in global de­sign. It may pay to leave the credit card in your ho­tel safe on your first foray.

Like Italy it­self, Mi­lan is full of sur­prises and con­trasts. The city’s fa­mous mod­ern, de­con­struc­tion­ist de­signs sit com­fort­ably along­side his­toric ar­chi­tec­ture – a stun­ning con­trast. The city’s Duomo cathe­dral is one of many such ex­am­ples. It is said to be home to over 3,600 stat­ues and 165 spires, all of which can be seen by climb­ing the steps into the dome – or tak­ing the lift, if you’re suf­fer­ing from shop­per’s feet.

One of the key times to visit Mi­lan is in April, dur­ing the city’s an­nual de­sign event. The Salone In­ter­nazionale del Mo­bile (fur­ni­ture fair) is the biggest event in the city, with over 1,270 ex­hibitors and open days to the pub­lic at week­ends. If plan­ning a visit around this time, it pays to book ac­com­mo­da­tion in ad­vance. And you can ex­pect to see a bit of ev­ery­thing, from un­der­stated de­sign to down­right out­landish. It’s all part of the charm. As is the city’s old-world vibe, which can best be ex­pe­ri­enced while sip­ping a cock­tail at the Ho­tel Principe Di Savoia on the Pi­azza della Repub­blica.

Mi­lan is viewed by many as a stop-off to make after vis­it­ing France, on the way to East­ern Europe or Rome. But it is a des­ti­na­tion in its own right, thanks to its de­served rep­u­ta­tion as a de­sign cap­i­tal of the world. Its well-pre­served, im­pres­sive­lypro­por­tioned his­toric ar­chi­tec­ture adds another string to its stylish bow.

Im­press­ing vis­i­tors was no doubt the aim of those who con­verted the once-di­lap­i­dated con­vent into the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel. While it oozes au­then­tic charm, with its over 500-year-old fres­coes on the walls and ceil­ings, the ho­tel is specked with ev­ery mod con imag­in­able.

Above: Mi­lan and its fa­mous shops. Right: the Ho­tel Principe di Savoia.

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