My planned spring retreat to the scenic Italian Lake District had a bit of a detour when my travel companion scored a last-minute ticket for Cenacolo Vinciano, as the Milanese call The Last Supper. So we made the stop before heading to Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como. And with so much happening in Italia the past several weeks, Pasqua, Pasquetta, National Liberation Day, Primo Maggio, the latest Berlusconi updates and Giovanni Paolo II’s Beato, hard to believe Italians were able to do anything. On Milan television this past weekend we were able to watch a recap of William and Kate’s vows, ”Vestito bianco – Kate wore a white dress!” with The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” and Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” as background music, spliced in were photos of Kate Moss, “otra Kate,” explained the newsreader about the other Kate who did not marry William; a segue into a lengthy snippet on the US Pole Dancing Championships; followed by a live in diretto from the concert festivities for Papa Giovanni Paolo II’s beatification with a quick shot of a smiling Silvio Berlusconi. Osama’s demise was a brief mention and a trailer item.
With Milan at the ready with so many swell mega-Euro hotels, and not opting for something middle ground, my friend and I went for the most modest accommodations we could find, landing at the Hotel Palazzo delle Stelline near Piazza Cadorna. The former convent turned hotel-meeting center is where Leonardo is said to have slept while at work on the Cenacolo across the street at Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie. We were pleased with the Stelline, what with its magnificent art collection and proximity to the Bar Magenta and Chocolat on via Boccaccio, two of our fave neighborhood spots.
After my friend soaked up the late XVth century, we hopped over to Spazio Rossana Orlandi, the temple of Modernissimo, only two blocks from the Stelline. Although Sgra. Orlandi and staff were unpacking crates from the recent Milan International Design Show, they kindly gave us carte blanche at the former factory turned templo moderno. Opened in 2002, Spazio Rossana Orlandi features a second-floor gallery where you can find contemporary and vintage furniture. Three years ago Orlandi opened another gallery space dedicated to limited editions and unique pieces, a showcase for promoting young and upcoming designers. Then, a look at this past weekend’s Primo Maggio scenes at Milan’s iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a few clicks at the scene along Via Montenapoleone, and a look inside the Palazzo delle Stelline and its art collection.
Hotel Palazzo delle Stelline Corso Magenta, 61 Milano
Readapting the 16th century for 21st century life can be challenging. Thus, discovering the superb adaptive re-use of Palazzo delle Stelline can be exhilarating for anyone who values historic preservation.