The 152-room Villa d’Este resides about an hour north of Milan in the quiet surrounds of Lake Como. The 16th century palatial estate has 25 acres of manicured Italian gardens, and it’s been a favorite escape for Hollywood types (Alfred Hitchcock used to retreat here every September) and Milanese who come for the weekend or for fine Italian fare at the hotel's famous lakefront restaurant, Veranda. Don’t leave without taking a dip in the pool, which juts into the lake on a floating dock. From $843. Via Regina 40, Cernobbio Como, 39/031-3481
Milan is home to some of the finest designer boutiques in the world. The best ones (and the best-dressed locals) cluster around Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. Many shoppers go straight to Spiga 2, Dolce & Gabbana’s 2-year-old incubator for young design talent, which often hosts fashion-themed events.
The café Erba Brusca sits on a plot of land at the city’s edge, where concrete blocks meet grassy meadows. Italian staples such as buttery white polenta and roasted speziata sausage are made with herbs and greens grown on-site. Reserve a table on the garden terrace near the vegetable beds and pond. 39/(0) 02-8738-0711. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
Lovers of furniture from past and present cannot leave Milan without stopping by the Triennale Design Museum. The permanent collection holds an interesting cross-section of Italian furniture and housewares, including the 1957 Superleggera (superlightweight) chair by Gio Ponti and espresso makers by Richard Sapper. 39/(0) 02-72-4341. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
Home design and antique shops have elbowed their way onto Via Spiga and Via Montenapoleone, Milan's modish lanes. Nilufar sells a huge array of furniture and intricate, contemporary carpets commissioned exclusively for the store. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
A 1930s building by architect Enrico Griffini is now the Armani Hotel, the second urban inn for the Milan-based brand. The city’s fashion set can be found at the Armani Lounge and Bamboo Bar, a lofty hangout with backlit onyx detailing and panoramic views of the Duomo and historic district. From $766. 39/(0) 02-8883-8888. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
Style and design filter into day-to-day life in Milan, but Women’s Fashion Week (September 19–25) is the height of the city’s creativity. The event, staged by fashion’s biggest labels, also spurs local restaurants and galleries to show off their ingenuity. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.