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Tadao Ando and Giorgio Armani

DESIGN WEEK – Our tips for you – 3. Armani and Ando

This year’s Design Week sees a special collaboration between two masters: Giorgio Armani and Tadao Ando.

"The Challenge"

“The Challenge”

Just opened in via Bergognone, “The Challenge” is the first exhibition at Armani Silos dedicated to architecture. It showcases the career of the Japanese architect that has distinguished himself for his original use of nature and the combination of elements like water and light in designed spaces.

Giorgio Armani and Tadao Ando share an affinity for minimalism, and their joint work culminated in the early 00s with the visually striking Armani/Teatro building, a project the Japanese architect was called upon due to his sensibility towards the designer’s unadorned style, creating a neutral base for the reveal of new collections. Armani/Teatro is usually not open to the public, but it will be accessible all through the Design Week until April 14th.

“The Challenge” reviews the career of Ando, who won the Pritzker Price in 1995, and is structured around four major themes: Primitive Shapes of Space, An Urban Challenge, Landscape Genesis, Dialogues with History. The retrospective includes over 50 projects, illustrated with sketches, original models, video installations, technical drawings, travel notes and photographs taken by Ando himself.
The creative principles of the master of contemporary architecture are explored through his most significant works, from Row House in Sumiyoshi – Azuma House (1976), to Project in Naoshima (1988 to today) and La Bourse de Commerce in Paris (2019).



DESIGN WEEK – Our tips for you – 2. Brera Design District

Brera is one one the most stimulating hubs during the Design Week.
This year, Brera Design District celebrates its 10th anniversary, and the cobblestone streets of the picturesque neighborhood will host a wealth of initiatives and events.

Design Your Life

Design Your Life

The 2019 theme is “Design Your Life”, that draws inspiration from Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ book “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” (Alfred a Knopf Inc, September 2016). “Design your life” is a call to awareness: designers have been asked to be more committed to the sustainable impact of their work.

Our favourite project is definitely “Planetario”, by Cristina Celestino. In Brera Design Apartment, Celestino has designed a scenographic retrofuturistic interior project, featuring a new collection of carpets created for Besana Carpet Lab. It is a dreamy, unexpected home scenario inspired by the themes of space and its antithesis, the underwater world. Brera Design Apartment is in via Palermo 1, 3°floor, and is open until April 14 from 10 am to 7 pm.

We recommend to spend some time at the majestic Basilica di San Marco – gateway to Brera Design District – and in its historical cloisters, which have been turned into an enchanting urban garden thanks to dOT & ABLE TO. Green settings and outdoor solutions create an authentic oasis for everybody in the city center, where nature, design and beauty blend in offering unique views and relaxation.

If you happen to be in Milan with kids, they will love RoBOTL: a stately and massive 6 meters-tall installation located in piazza XXV Aprile. RoBOTL is the sustainability superhero, a symbol and warning that reminds us how important it is to safeguard the environment in which we live. The work is made of recycled plastic bottles and production scraps from the design industry, and is the official spokesperson to raise awareness to act in a conscious and responsible way, starting from the city in which we live. The project is signed by Timberland and Giò Forma, multi-award winning international studio made of designers, architects and artists, led by Cristiana Picco, Florian Boje e Claudio Santucci.

Leonardo Horse Project

DESIGN WEEK – Our tips for you – 1. Leonardo’s Horses

DESIGN WEEK – Our tips for you – 1. Leonardo’s Horses

Design Week + the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death = 13 Leonardo’s horses!

Yes, during the most hectic week of the year in Milan, the famous Leonardo’s horse will be replicated in 13 scale reproductions, or rather reinterpretations made by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.

The Leonardo Horse Project is part of Milan’s celebration programme for the anniversary of Leonardo’s death. The genius from Vinci was commissioned a huge sculpture by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, in memory of his father Francesco. Of that sculpture, only the original sketches survived, and in 1999 american artist Nina Akamu cast a reproduction of it. Seven meters high, weighing 10 tons, Leonardo’s horse is one of the largest equine bronze sculpture in the world, and welcomes visitors to Milan’s hippodrome.

During the Design Week, the giant horse will be accompanied by its 13 replicas, made by designers such as Matteo Cibic and Markus Benesch and fashion designers such as Roberto Fragata. Colourful or kitsch, inspired by Native American culture or minimalistic, next week the 13 horses will be scattered around the city and placed in different Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic places, as a visual reminder of the coming opening day for the official celebrations, May 2nd. The day when Leonardo died 500 years ago.

Find more about Leonardo Horse Project, the history of Leonardo’s Horse and the 13 reinterpretations through a new and immersive experience provided by the free app.

Cimento del Naviglio


Things to do in Milan this week – January 23-29
The best things to do in Milan this week, including Music, Art, Museums, Shopping and Restaurants, chosen by Bella Milano Tours.

Cascina Cuccagna

Cascina Cuccagna

ARTISAN MARKETCascina Cuccagna is a unique place: formerly a farm in the surroundings of Milan, it has been swallowed by the growing city and it is located now in a rather affluent residential district, close to the subway station Lodi. Sunday 27 the Carrousel Market, whose theme is going to be “Sales Mon Amour”, will welcome you with more than 50 stalls of artisans and fashion designers. January is traditionally the month of discounts. what better chance to find original handmade bargains in a special venue.

MUSIC – January 27 is the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. On Saturday 26th at 8.30 pm, a very special violin will be played at the Auditorium di Milano, in largo Mahler (tram 3 from Duomo square). It has a Star of David engraved on its bottom, and it belonged to a young Jewish woman who was deported to Auschwitz and died there. After the  war it was found and restored, and it is now owned by violinist Alessandra Sonia Romano, who will play it in a duet with renowned pianist Bruno Canino. Tickets 10/15 euro.

Shoah Memorial of Milan

Shoah Memorial of Milan

SHOAH MEMORIAL OF MILAN – The weekend will be full of initiatives to remember the persecution of the Jewish people. In Milan, victims of the racial laws introduced in 1938 were deported by trains leaving from Platform 21 in the Central Railway Station. And Platform 21 is now the Shoah Memorial of Milan. Friday 25 (9.30 am to 2 pm), Sunday 27 and Monday 28 (10 am to 7 pm) it will be open to visitors and it will be possible to follow free guided tours.

CIMENTO DEI NAVIGLI – Navigli, the canal district of Milan, is the place of a century-old tradition, the so-called Cimento invernale (Winter Feat): 50 brave (or crazy) people will dive into the chilly waters of Naviglio Grande on Saturday 26 at midnight, and 50 more on Sunday 27 at midday. They will have to swim for at least 50 meters if the ordeal is to be considered valid. Anybody may join the group of divers. Fee 50 euro; for more info contact Canottieri San Cristoforo, which will provide swimming suits, swim cap and bathrobe.

MUST DO – A guided walking tour in Milan with us! This week we recommend the Ghost Tour, which will take you to unusual, surprising places of our beautiful city.
Merry Christmas from Ciccio

Merry Christmas from Bella Milano Tours

Merry Christmas from Matilde

Merry Christmas from Matilde

Merry Christmas from Bella Milan Tours

Mirella & Valeria – together with our four-legged family members – wish you all a very merry Christmas! Whether you are celebrating a secular or religious Christmas, your day is sure to be filled with happiness. You may be wondering what we do for Christmas in Italy. Actually, traditions and customs are quite different in the 20 Italian regions, so there is not just one answer to such question. But all through our country, food is going to be on the front stage during the Holiday Season. So, follow us on a little virtual food tour of Italy and discover what Mirella and I are going to do on Christmas Eve and Day.


Merry Christmas from Lo Smilzo

Merry Christmas from Lo Smilzo

In the South of Italy, Christmas Eve is the peak

Valeria’s husband Andrea is from the South of Italy, where Christmas Eve is the peak of season’s celebrations. We will gather at Andrea’s parents’ house and his mamma Iolanda will prepare for us all a so-called “cena di magro”, literally “meagre dinner”, that is meatless dinner. It is supposed to be a light dinner, as a token of respect for the imminent birth of Jesus. But, come on, we are in Italy, a light dinner is blasphemy! So our menu will include risotto with cuttlefish, codfish with bellpepper, and a dessert named “calzuncini”, sort of sweet ravioli stuffed with wine must and chocolate. Definitely, no meagre dinner here. Late in the evening we will go to church for the solemn midnight mass, and when we are back it is finally time to open our gifts.


Merry Christmas from Dana

Merry Christmas from Dana

In Piedmont, Christmas day is the day

Mirella is from Alessandria, in Piedmont, a Northern region with a spectacular food and wine tradition. In the North of Italy Christmas Day is the day, and Christmas lunch the crowning moment. The menu at Mirella’s parents’ always includes typical agnolotti del plin, made with small pieces of flattened pasta dough, folded over a filling of roasted meat or vegetables. A triumph of roasted meat will follow, as lavish and generous as on the table of Henry VIII. Panettone will be the dessert; as a matter of fact it is traditional of Milan, but nowadays it can be found on every Italian table on Christmas Day. And presents? Unwrapping time is in the morning, when the family reunites, after the hugs and kisses and laughter, while everybody is sipping a heart-warming glass of wine and getting prepared for the festive lunch that lies ahead.

This is how we celebrate family ties and show our gratitude for all the things we have. We wish everybody wonder and warmth and happiness and joy. Merry Christmas!

Tony Cragg

Art at the top

Tony Cragg

Tony Cragg

Our guided walking tours in Milan always include a visit to the rooftop of the cathedral. When we climb the last few steps and reach the upper terrace, the view of the tall spire holding the majestic golden statue  of the Virgin Mary is a moment of pure awe.

But these days the “wow effect” is enhanced by  the presence of weird masses of stone and metal scattered on the upper terrace of Duomo. The mistery is soon unveiled: it is a monographic exhibition of pieces by British artist Tony Cragg, whose “Paradox” is already housed inside the cathedral.

Cragg’s works weigh tonnes, and yet, balancing on small bases,  they look weighless. Exactly like Milan’s Duomo, a solid mass of marble but at the same time a delicately yarned lace of statues,  pinnacles and flowered crests.

It is a sort of dialogue between modern and gothic art, surrounded by one of  the most fascinating view of the city. Add a sunny, warm April day, and magic is here.