Rome’s Fountains, Brought to You By…

Recently, city officials in Rome unveiled the Barcaccia fountain, which had been under wraps for the past year so it could be cleaned. The Barcaccia is now gleaming, as you can see in the photo above, and provides a pleasing visual for all those tired souls taking a breather on the Spanish Steps. Continue reading Rome’s Fountains, Brought to You By…

Italy at Home: Renaissance Rivals in Boston and Valentino Everywhere

No time or money to plan an Italy vacation right now? Here’s another installment of what we call “Italy at Home.” Here are two things you can put on your calendar.

If you’re in Boston, head to the Museum of Fine Arts where the show “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice” is underway. A recent review by Holland Cotter of the New York Times said “You can pretty much kiss goodbye, at least for now, the prospect of more exhibitions like [this one]. Transatlantic loans of the kind that make this show the breathtaker it is are a big drain on strapped museum budgets. Boston was lucky to partner with the Louvre on this project, but such masterpiece gatherings are likely to be rare in years to come.” The exhibit runs through August 16. Get your tickets now.

Another Italy-related show may be coming to a theater near you beginning March 18. Valentino: The Last Emperor, a documentary about legendary fashion designer Valentino Garavani played to huge audiences at various film festivals (Venice, Toronto) all last fall. Cinemas in New York will begin screenings on the 18th, followed by Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. You can follow the film on its own Facebook page to see if more dates are added.

Italian Fashion Designers and Their Hotels

Castiglion del Bosco

Fashion designers have known for a long time that it’s good to diversify. Not only have Italian fashion houses like Armani, Versace, and Dolce & Gabbana ventured beyond clothing to include perfume, accessories, and restaurants among their branded items, they’ve also gone into the business of designing and/or maintaining luxury hotels and suites. This weekend, in the wake of the end of Milan Fashion Week, Sophy Roberts profiles Ferragamo’s Tuscan Estate Castiglion del Bosco for the Financial Times. As the writer points out, discussing this vast estate in today’s economic climate seems “absurd.”

The numbers involved in the project – by spring 2010 it will include 20 villas, 26 “hotel” suites, a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, spa, two restaurants, winery and stud – are clearly not for the credit-crunched. Nor are the sums easily accessible: Castiglion del Bosco has been set up as a membership club where fees are confidential. One source recently estimated it to be 120 memberships at €2m each.

Nevertheless, Castiglion del Bosco does allow non-members (“discerning guests,” according to its website) to stay at Il Borgo, the so-called heart of the 4,500-acre estate, for roughly €600-€3000 per night, based on availability. This latest Ferragamo venture is located in Val d’Orcia, but the Ferragamos also own other (more reasonably priced?) properties in Tuscany that are open to guests. Il Borro (not to be confused with Il Borgo, above), near Arezzo, has villa and farmhouse accommodations starting at $475 per night. In addition, the family also runs Lungarno Hotels, which includes several hotels in Florence and some suites in Rome.

Of course, the Ferragamos aren’t the only designers in the hotel game in Italy. The FT article also lists The Bulgari Hotel in Milan, the (Alberta) Ferretti’s Castello di Montegridolfo and Carducci 76 near Rimini, and the Bottega Veneta suite in Rome’s St. Regis Hotel.

If luxury and design are important criteria for you when choosing a hotel, you can also check out the Fashion Designer Hotels round-up from Forbes Traveler, which includes properties from around the world designed by Italians and other big names in the fashion world.

Photo of Castiglion del Bosco

More Money Saving Tips for Milan

We recently got such a good response from our posting on Designer Outlets in Italy, that we thought we’d try to find more bargain shopping resources. What we found was Entrepreneur’s How to Shop in Milan – Without Spending a Fortune, a short article with tips on outlet shopping.

This isn’t a cheapskate’s guide to Milan, but a way for fashion-conscious bargain hunters to get the most out of Italy’s fashion capital. There’s contact information for outlets such as The Place, Fidenza Village, 10 Corso Como Outlet, Basement, and Il Salvagente. Sale items included a black cashmere Miu Miu coat for €235 (reduced from €650), Furla handbags for €185, and Dolce & Gabbana men’s shoes (from the Dolce and Gabbana Outlet) for €168.

Where the Fashion Forward Eat and Sleep in Milan

Nhow Hotel, Milan

Here’s a hotel and restaurant that we hope Jessica over at Italylogue will have a chance to check out while she’s in Milan.

Located in the hip Tortona district, Milan’s Nhow Hotel, which opened last year in a defunct General Electric power plant, has put a high-design touch on all of its rooms and common areas. There are bedrooms decorated to look like comic strips, a “crystallized” Swarovski chair, and a flowering Alexander Calder-type installations in the dining room. According to the Nhow brochure (PDF file), the hotel changes the look of the common areas every four months. So, it’s like staying at a gallery almost every time you visit.

If the Nhow’s minimalist design starts to bore you, then head over to Dolce & Gabbana’s Gold, the fashion design duo’s restaurant/bistrot/lounge bar. Like D&G’s, Gold is deliciously over the top. Though we wonder if anyone actually eats there.

Designer Outlets in Italy

Update 5 August 2015: This is one of the most popular posts on Italofile. I’m not sure how so many readers arrive here, as the post is ancient by online standards. So here are a few more current resources for you:

I have not had a chance to re-vet all of the places listed below, so I advise you to do some extra research before making your itinerary.

I do most of my shopping at sample sales in Rome, secondhand stores, and during the seasonal sales, so I am very keen to learn about other locations for discount shopping. Feel free to help me and other readers out with your recommendations by leaving a comment below!

And now, the original post…

We figure that few, if any, readers of this blog are flush enough to pay retail for Prada, Gucci, or any of the other Italian design houses currently showing their lines at Milan Fashion Week. That’s why we wanted to highlight Corriere della Sera’s helpful list of the fashion outlets, which are located all over northern Italy. We’ve provided the link. But in case CS’s list gets zapped from cyberspace, we’re recreating the list below. Please also note that this list is from a few years back. For a more updated list, with detailed descriptions of shops, check out Designer Bargains in Italy. Happy shopping!

LOMBARDY
Spaccio Luciano Soprani – Luciano Soprani’s outlet
(a bit less classic than Armani, but still very elegant)
Via Morosini 30, Milano, tel. 02-55183913
Spaccio Etro – Etro’s outlet
(clothings, tissues, scarves, shoes…)
Via Spartaco 3, Milano, tel. 02-798168
Factory Store Valextra
Bags, suitcases, shoes… by Valextra
Via Cerva 11, Milano, tel. 02-76003459
Factory Store Samsonite
Suitcases, bags, shoes… by Samsonite
Via Milano 18, Corsico (Milano) , tel. 02-4408363
Via Clivio 23, Viggiù (Varese) , tel. 0332-440200
Spaccio Kookai – Kookai’s outlet
(trendy clothing and so on for youth)
Inside via Quintiliano 33, Milano, tel. 02-58016368

TUSCANY
The Mall

Luxury factory outlet center with outlets by some of the greatest brands: Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Sergio Rossi, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Loro Piana
Via Europa 8, Leccio/Reggello (Firenze), tel. 055-8657775I
Pellettieri d’Italia – Prada’s outlet
Località Levanella, Montevarchi (Arezzo) tel. 055-91901
Fendi – Fendi’s outlet (clothings, parfums, shoes…)
Via Giuseppe Di Vittorio 9, Rignano sull’Arno (Firenze), tel. 055-834981

SAN MARINO
San Marino Factory Outlet

Via Tre Settembre n. 3 (1 Km dopo il confine)
REPUBBLICA DI SAN MARINO
Tel 0549-904014
www.outlet-spacci.it

LE MARCHE
Spaccio Della Valle
Factory outlet of the top shoes in the casual-chic style: Tod’s and Hogan
Via Garibaldi 134, Sant’Elpidio a Mare (Ascoli Piceno), tel. 0734-871671

ITALIAN SWITZERLAND
Fox Town
(Gucci, Prada, Versace, Ferrè, Krizia, Dolce &Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Missoni-Les Copains, Bally, Diesel, Esprit, Nike, Replay, Adidas, Johnny Lambs, Superga, Ralph Lauren, Richard Ginori, Etro, Samsonite…)
A great factory outlet center in a post-modern building very close (seven kilometres) to the border between Italy and Switzerland. There are 140 top Italian and international brands
Via Maspoli 28, Mendrisio – Canton Ticino (Svizzera) – tel. 0041-848-828888
www.foxtown.ch

PIEMONTE
McArthur Glen Designer Outlets
(Aspesi, Byblos, Dolce & Gabbana, Cacharel, Clarks, Lacoste, Fratelli Rossetti, Invicta, Levi’s/Dockers, Marina Yachting, Nike, Reebok, Stonefly, Valextra, Versace, Slam, Phard, Fiorucci, La Perla, Bulgari, Loro Piana…)
First italian outlet village. Near Serravalle exit on the motorway
Milano-Genova: there are over one hundred outles of the top brands, national and international
Via della Moda 1, Serravalle Scrivia (Alessandria), tel. 0143-686003
www.mcarthurglen.com
Spaccio Alessi – Factory outlet of the famous kitchen and tableware by Alessi
Via privata Alessi 6, Crusinallo di Omegna (Verbania), tel. 0323-868648

IN MORE THAN ONE REGION
Timberland Factory Outlet (shoes, clothes…)
* Via Piave 24/26, Pero (Milano) Lombardia, tel. 02-3536687
* Via Nazionale 9, Tavagnacco (Udine) Friuli Venezia Giulia, tel. 0432-46087
* Via dei Castelli Romani 15/a, Pomezia (Roma) Lazio, tel. 06-91602237
* Strada Statale 12 del Brennero 46, Vipiteno (Bolzano) Trentino Alto Adige, tel. 0472-767670 Armani Factory Store – Giorgio Armani’s outlet
* Strada provinciale per Bregnano 13, Vertemate CO, tel. 031-887373
* Via Merloni 10, Matelica MC, tel. 0737-782352
Dolce & Gabbana outlet
* Località Santa Maria Maddalena, Pian dell’Isola/Incisa Val d’Arno (Firenze) – Toscana -tel. 055-8331300
* Via Rossini 70, Legnano (Milano) – Lombardia – tel. 0331-545888
Diffusione Tessile – Factory outlet by Max Mara group
(Max &Co., I Blues, Marina Rinaldi…)
www.diffusionetessile.it
* Galleria del Corso 2, (Milano) – Lombardia – tel. 02-76000829
* Strada statale Rabuiese angolo provinciale Farnei, Muggia (Trieste) – Friuli Venezia Giulia -tel. 040-235089
* Strada Pontina Km. 28,400 – Pomezia (Roma)- Lazio – tel. 06-9105673
* Via Padana Inferiore Ovest 15, Legnago (Verona) – Veneto -tel 0422-602811
* Corso Francia 313, Collegno (Torino) – Piemonte – tel. 011-4157840
* Inside Centro Commerciale Valle Scrivia ,via Isorelle 15/B, Savignone (Genova) – Liguria – tel. 010-9761200
* Via Goleto 13/B, Boretto (RE) – Emilia Romagna – tel. 0522-964415

Photo © brooy

2,000 Years of Style in Rome

 

Way back in 1999, I remember walking up to the pile of rubble and marble that was the Ara Pacis and feeling amazed that such an ancient monument had been left so lonesome on the banks of the Tiber to weather the elements. Most of the rest of Rome’s monuments were under scaffolding at that point, getting ready to shine for the new milennium.

Shortly after that, it was announced that the Ara Pacis would undergo a huge refurbishment by American architect Richard Meier. His winning proposal would envelop the Augustan memorial under an ultramodern glass and steel structure. Romans were outraged, the project was on-again-off-again-on-again. Finally, in spring 2006 the Ara Pacis complex opened to mixed (mainly negative) reviews.

According to Newsweek, by way of this Ara Pacis blog, “the building has become a flash point for…disaffection for efforts to modernize the ancient city.” This is one reason why it seems fitting to me that the Ara Pacis will host an exhibit about a man who has singlehandedly kept Rome on the map through his modern approach to traditional style: Valentino.

From today (July 6) to October 28, visitors to the Ara Pacis will have the chance to enjoy “Valentino a Roma: 45 Years of Style.” The exhibit will display more than 300 of the design legends garments and other items. Of course, the anniversary itself is being greeted with all sorts of fanfare in Rome, including fashion shows at Santo Spirito in Sassia and at the Villa Borghese. For those not on the guest list, a stroll by the Valentino mother shop at Via Condotti 13 will not be disappointing because it, too, will be decked out for the occasion (not that Valentino or its affiliates need any occasion to be decked out…that’s haute couture for you).

Romans can argue all they want about how Meier’s Ara Pacis complex destroys the cityscape with its modernity. But then those Romans who complain about “the new” don’t deserve the innovative designs of their native son.

While I am a huge Valentino fan, I am wont to laud him here in hopes that I can get on the guest list for the 50-Year retrospective. Please oh please. Oh yeah…and throw in a dress, too. Thank you.