Friday, July 1, 2011

Photoless Friday (19): sensorial delights for a Friday afternoon

At a loss for something to do with such a gorgeous Friday afternoon, as today promises?

Have I got some powerhouse suggestions for you for some wonderful gems known well, perhaps, only by a discerning few!...More......

Via Bagutta.

A little strip passing obliquely from Piazza San Babila towards via Manzoni...where it never arrives. It stops, instead, on via S. Andrea, home of the marvelous Civic Museum of Milan offering even centuries old painted views of the picturesque Milan of canals that is no more. The museum deserves its own post...that'll be for another day.

Today, we're first headed somewhere else that had piqued my interest each time I passed it, too much in a rush to get to work on time to even look properly in the windows.

Finally en route with a little bit of time to spare, I slipped into via Bagutta to walk calmly, not squashed by the crush of locals and tourists, at least in that short stretch parallelling the beginning both of Corso Matteotti (originally Corso del Littorale) and the famous via Montenapoleone...which is not just important for the high fashion readymade wear shops that have gobbled up the street. "Montenapo," as we locals call it, also deserves a post all its own...another day.

As I leisurely stepped along the paving stones, I felt a bubbling idea..."Wasn't there a...?," and, as soon as the idea jumped full-formed out of my head like Athena from the skull of Zeus, I was already at this place promising wonders: L'Artisan Parfumeur, via Bagutta, 8.

"Nomen omen" ('the name is a prediction'), I bet myself.

"Oh how marvelous, I wonder just how costly their tailor-made perfumes are? If you have to ask, you can't afford it. Oh, what the heck, I've got time, I've always wanted to stop in, and so just go for it."

Very glad I did.

First off, I learned that they don't do "tailor-made" perfumes, but their chain did start with a master perfume craftsman (setting up his own shop in the years after WWII, as I recall!), so the "artisan" part of the title still is apt and well-deserved.

And guess what?

The clerk was friendly (surprise of all an Italian boutique of any type?! I'd go back just for that!) and helpful. He asked my scent preferences, then offered spritzes of them in little specially made paper cones set onto plexiglass stems so that--how fun!--to sniff them was like sipping champagne. (Very smart marketing tool, that.)

The two responding to my preferences are heavenly, the third, the first perfume created, is very nice, too, a bit like fresh clean delicate soap.

The shop is so chic, the experience, too, all so lovely, I almost didn't ask, but got up my courage for you. And you know what?

Their perfumes are only a tad more expensive than the other important large chain well known ones, so they're not out of reach, and would make a very neat treat for oneself, or an impressive gift for a female significant other (I forgot to ask if they have perfumes for men, too...stop in, ask, and let me know).

Very very much worth it.

Well, that was so satisfying, what could I possibly do, next, to top that?

"Top" is a bit strong, but there still are some fun things to come that at least equal it.

Just a few steps ahead, and if you plan right, you'll be able to have lunch at "Bagutta," one of Milan's famous culinary traditions: via Bagutta, 14. Very pleasant, very tasty, very authentic Milanese experience.

When you've finished eating and leave the restaurant, continue in the same general direction, and you'll get to another wonder: ladies' shoes so gorgeous, so expressive of fanciful yet good taste, consequently so hard on the budget, but so easy on the eyes.

Rene Caovilla di Venezia.

Couldn't see a street number, but you can't miss it at (or almost at) the corner of via Bagutta and via S. Andrea.

So, we've treated your eyes, mouth and nose to a little bit of heaven. What could possibly be left?

An excellent coffee (with, perhaps, a dessert...why not, just think of all the walking you've been doing) in yet another Milanese tradition, then stimuli for the eyes and mind.

COVA - Pasticceria-Confetteria (cake and sweets shop), founded in 1817 (that's just a couple of years after Waterloo, remember? What courage the founder of Cova must have had), via Montenapoleone, 8, at the corner of via S. Andrea, near to where via Bagutta deadends (did I forget to tell you to turn to the left onto via S. Andrea out of via Bagutta?).

After coffee, how can I resist?, why not continue a few more meters/yards on Montenapo, turn right onto via Gesù, and treat your eyes and mind to a visit of the museum where I work, the marvelous Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, one of Europe's most important and best preserved historic house museums (which is just a fancy way to say that it's a "time capsule" of the late 19th century, with the Italian Renaissance art and decorative arts collections not only intact, but--importantly--displayed as the brothers and collectors wanted them to be, so it's also a great place just to be nosy about how a newly aristocratic Milanese family lived then

If, after seeing the museum, you want to head back down Montenapo to the San Babila stop of the red line, I'll say goodbye to you, now.

If you want to keep going down Montenapo in the direction of via Manzoni (this time, we'll get there), I have just one more thing to say: outlet big name brand shopping in a shop about two shops shy of via Manzoni. The percentages off sound pretty good...until you look at the starting price. Frankly, the prices still are ridiculously obscene for most of the stuff, whether of important fabrics and complex construction, or a simple light cotton with a bat wing sleeve (no tailoring there, just a couple of straight quick seams, and it's done). If you absolutely HAVE to have something from one of the big names, though, you'd might as well start here.

It's time for a quick pre-close reminder: I get no kickbacks, or perks, of any kind for mentioning any of these places.


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