At home in fashion capital Milan

Fresh Italian cheese and a pasta with saffron and green peas in Bolognese sauce are some of the favourite foods in Milan of Mr Johnny Manglani, who owns a chain of luxury menswear boutiques.
Fresh Italian cheese and a pasta with saffron and green peas in Bolognese sauce are some of the favourite foods in Milan of Mr Johnny Manglani, who owns a chain of luxury menswear boutiques. -- PHOTO: THE UOMO GROUP

Who: Johnny Manglani, 49, Mumbai-born, Singapore-based owner and founder of Uomo Group, which operates a chain of luxury menswear boutiques, five of which are at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

Favourite city: Milan, Italy

Why: As someone in the fashion business, I feel at home in Milan, which is recognised as one of the fashion capitals of the world.

It is a classy city, full of elegant, well-dressed people.

I go there six times a year, mainly for the unveiling of new collections and Milan Fashion Week.

It is wonderful meeting my peers from all over the world during such occasions.

Favourite places to stay
There are three hotels I frequent in Milan. The first is Bvlgari Hotel (Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7/b, 20121 Milano, tel: +39-02-805- 805-1), a luxury hotel in the city centre which has a large and beautiful garden. Room rates start at €650 (S$1,140) for a superior room.

On some business trips, I like to stay at the Hotel Principe di Savoia (Piazza della Repubblica 17, 20124 Milano, tel: +39-02- 62301).

The location is ideal as the showroom of one of my boutiques, Stefano Ricci, is situated in this hotel. A classic room typically costs between €300 and €400.

If I’m travelling to Milan with my wife, we stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Milano (Via Gesu, 6/8, 20121 Milano, tel: +39-02- 77088) as it is right smack in the shopping district.

The hotel has a lovely lobby lounge called Il Foyer, where many gather for drinks.

Room rates can range between €550 and €1,010 for a superior room, depending on the season.

Favourite restaurants
Ristorante Bagutta (Via Bagutta, 14, 20121 Milano, tel: +39-02-7600-2767, open Mondays to Saturdays from 12.30 to 10.30pm, closed on Sundays) is a trattoria loved by my family. I always have some burrata (fresh Italian cheese) with ham, and its Rigatoni Bagutta – a pasta with saffron and green peas in Bolognese sauce. It costs about €35 a person for two courses and a dessert.

My all-time favourite dinner trattoria is Il Giardino dei Segreti (Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 17, 20129 Milano, tel: +39-02-7600- 8376, open for dinner on Mondays, open from 9.30am to 2.30pm and 7.30 to 11.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, closed on Sundays).

The decor is simple but the food is amazing. Have some of its focaccia bread with freshly cut ham, and thinly sliced fried zucchini with potatoes. For mains, you must try its steak – wonderful Florentine meat. You cannot have this for lunch; it will sit like a bomb in your stomach.

To soothe my chest after dinner, I usually have a few shots of Mirto (a digestive aid) at this restaurant. A meal here costs about €70 a person.

Favourite bar
Il Bar, Milan (Via Santa Radegonda, 1 la Rinascente, 7th floor, 20121 Milano, tel: +39- 02-88521, open daily 9.30am to midnight) is located on the top floor of la Rinascente department store.

This is the best spot for you to take in stunning views of Milan’s Duomo cathedral all day long. Have a seat and have a glass of wine or order an Aperol Spritz, an Italian cocktail.

Favourite places to shop
The Golden Mile of Milanese shopping is made up of several avenues, with Via Montenapoleone and Via Monzoni being the best-known stretches.

Here, you can pop in and out of shops such as Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Versace, the Armani Megastore and the flagship store of Ermenegildo Zegna.

Fashion aside, there is a fancy shop for souvenirs that I like to stop by each time I go to Milan – 10 Corso Como (Corso Como, 10, 20154 Milano, tel: +39-02-2900-2674, open daily 10.30am to 7.30pm, with longer opening hours, till 9pm, on Wednesdays and Thursdays).

You can buy really nice coffee-table books on fashion from this shop and great food items such as olive oil and handmade pasta, which I get my wife to cook for me at home.

Must-see places
The church-cum-convent Santa Maria delle Grazie (Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano, tel: +39-02-467-6111, open Mondays to Saturdays from 7am to noon and 3 to 7pm, Sundays from 7.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30 to 9pm), which contains the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Be prepared to queue.

The other place I would recommend visiting is the Teatro alla Scala (Piazza della Scala, 20121 Milano, tel: +39-02- 7200-3744), the legendary opera house in Milan. It is beautiful.
If you want to watch a performance, do book in advance.

Must-buy and must-try
Wines in Milan are cheap. You can get a really good bottle of wine for €20, so order some to accompany your meals at the restaurants.

Go for a gelato – any shop will do. They usually have tons of flavours. One of my favourite flavours is pistachio with vanilla.

One piece of advice
Watch out for pickpockets, especially around the popular shopping districts.

Do not be careless. They communicate with hand signals and can snatch that new branded bag of yours in seconds.
brynasim@sph.com.sg