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Rediscovering Milan Through These Unchanging Must-Visit Sights

It’s been over twenty years since my last visit to Milan; but like so many of the great cities of the world, there’s a distinct double-edged nature to these metropolises. While things are constantly in flux, and new developments are always on the rise, it’s also like things don’t change, and the Milan I remember still exists today. Some of the places to visit remain the same; and while new restaurants and attractions rise, they may have a veneer of familiarity or deja vu—or they operate on a strata that co-exists with the historical Milan we know in our memory banks. Cities like New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong all possess this wonderful schizophrenic personality.


The Duomo by day, and by night.


In Milan as the sole media guest of INAX, as they participated in this year’s Salone del Mobile; I became the default ‘tour guide’ for the INAX Philippines group on matters outside the Salone. While I pleaded ‘nolo contendere’ as it would have been 1995 when I was last in the city; it didn’t seem to matter, as my recommendations, the Piazza del Duomo, with the Cathedral and the Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II, still know how to take your breath away. 


It’s all in the details, at the Duomo.


The colors of Milano—how regular buildings contribute to the vibrancy of the city landscape.


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At the Rinascente

Recommending the Obicà Mozzarella Bar as our lunch destination had the party beaming. Located on the 7th floor Food Hall of Rinascente (Milan’s Harrods), it has this wonderful view of the Duomo, and got very busy quickly—apparently a favorite of the smart and fashionable set. And yes, the food is wonderful—especially loved the fresh Mozzarella di Bufala that came with Beetroot and Pumpkin slices.


The Obicà, at the 7th floor Food Hall of Rinascente, Milan’s Premier Department Store.


Garden Salad with Tuna fillets


The Tagliata di Manzo


The Mozzarella di Bufala with Pumpkin and Beetroot


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Returning to the Galleria

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is a sight to behold. It’s the oldest active mall, four stories of restaurants and shops set amidst the stunning architecture, and iron and glass roof, that dates back to 1865. And by sheer sorcery, the nets that straddle the four entrances are set down to a height that allow people to walk in, but keep the birds that populate the Piazza out.


The Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II, the oldest active mall in the world. 


Vision of the future

Off the city center, one finds the GROHE Italy showroom. This German bathroom and sanitary wares brand is now part of the LIXIL family, a sister to INAX; and its emphasis on technology and design, make it a veritable showcase of the future of this product category. The detachable kitchen sink faucets are an array of color, and the collaboration they have with ceramic makers have resulted in bathroom walls that deceptively look like wallpaper, but are actually tiles and ceramic wall panels that are easier to clean, and won’t peel off because of steam or heat.


The GROHE showroom; and some of their ‘hero’ products.


One hero product is the overhead shower that has a load of functions, a driver to GROHE’s commitment to creating that ‘smart’ home—in this case, the bathroom. Either side of the overhead shower can be temperature and flow-controlled. There’s even a waterfall effect that can be availed of. One modern sink had features were hot water could be immediately flowing, and one could even get sparkling water from the faucet. A 3-D customized feature also allows one to design and create unique faucets—where, at first glance, you can’t figure out how the water is flowing into the faucet head. Indeed, GROHE is building the bathroom of tomorrow today!

A must—the Bistecca 

And how can you go to Italy and not eat Bistecca Fiorentina! At Ristorante Quattro Mori (near the Sfronza Castle), we shared and gorged on the delectable way Italians handle this T-bone cut. A delicate Risotto di Piselli (green peas) was a great companion to the side of beef. 


At the Ristorante Quattro Mori, and their fabulous ‘in the pink of health’ Bistecca Fiorentina.


These are just some of the sights from the short (but sweet) return to Milan—beyond the must-visits is the pleasure of seeing INAX and GROHE with its global counterparts, a celebration of Japanese craftsmanship, technology, and design mixed with function. 


Photographs by Philip Cu-Unjieng