Maybe you’ve just seen Leonardo’s Last Supper and are in need of a relaxing walk to ward off the possible onset of Stendhal’s syndrome. Maybe you’ve got just one hour before seeing a musical at Teatro Nazionale or maybe your hotel happens to be located in the neighbourhood. Or, maybe you simply wish to take a stroll through one of Milan’s less touristy areas. In all of these cases, the Vercelli-Belfiore district, midway between the Conciliazione and Wagner metro stops, is a perfect itinerary: one of Milan’s best-kept secrets – though not by chance home to several of the world’s best brands – this area, though mainly residential and frequented during the day, is capable of surprising those visiting it, thanks, for example to an extremely wide, cosmopolitan offer of restaurants. One of the most characteristic and strategic tram routes in the city (from here trams run to Fieramilano City and its congress centre, the Expo district, but also the historic centre, where you can catch a glimpse of the spires of the Duomo as the tram trundles along), this district is definitely worth a visit, shopping bag in hand. In fact, its carousel of shops has few rivals.
Corso Vercelli, shopping bag in hand
If you access corso Vercelli starting from piazzale Baracca, at building number 1 you will immediately find a Montblanc boutique, home to high quality beautifully fashioned timepieces and writing instruments. At number 3, you will find Zadig&Voltaire, the French clothing brand that, in 2008, chose to open its first Italian monobrand store right here on corso Vercelli. While in the area, should you decide to pick up a new pair of uber-glam sunglasses, at number 5 corso Vercelli, Salmoiraghi e Viganò awaits you. One of the best-known opticians in Italy, it boasts as many as 500 sales points scattered across the country. Just a little further on, at number 7, your new sunglasses are likely to protect you from the glittering window displays of Luigi Verga Orologi, historic, high-class watchmakers offering a diverse selection of luxury brands including Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Pomellato. While on the subject of luxury, from number 11 onwards you will find a real mini-haven of elegance, mainly for men and mainly made-to-measure. The stores located here range from De Molfetta, the go-to shop for expertly handmade shirts and fashionforward men’s knitwear to Luca Calzature, a reference point since 1968 for artisanal footwear: all the beauty of Italian quality combined with the luxury of personalization and hundreds of models from among which to choose. At number 23 you can also find Brian&Barry (which, in spite of its name, is a 100% Italian brand, currently at the top of its form, as shown by its new, lavish megastore in San Babila) and Boggi, a surefire choice for men’s clothing where you can take advantage of the discounts reserved for you as a reader of Where.
In discovery of via Belfiore’s boutiques
On reaching piazza Wagner, you can make a small diversion in discovery of via Belfiore, even less touristy and, therefore, even more suggestive. And yet, even here, several of the most prestigious brands make an appearance, in quick succession. For a luxe pit-stop, at number 18, you’ll find one of the most iconic Nespresso points in the city. Now that you’re feeling a little more energized, you can return to the heart of Italian craftsmanship: in a singular “duel” two different artisanal shoe shops stand one next to the other, both boasting a storied past and the guarantee of Italian artisanal excellence. It’s up to you to choose between one of the two, either Calzature Belfiore, handcrafted shoes since 1950, or Calzature Cardinale, a small family-run business since 1977. On the contrary, at number 8, you’ll find Avirex, the legendary brand for “pilots” or simply for those who favour this type of look.
Back In Corso Vercelli And Via Rasori
By retracing your footsteps, you’ll find yourself back in corso Vercelli, where you can browse the other side. Starting from the other end, you’ll find Coin, the upmarket department store stocking a good collection of most of what you have seen until now. Further on, at number 14, you’ll find yet another classic of Made-in-Italy, i.e. Geox, which doubles up just a little further on down the road at number 8, with its upmarket cousins Fay, Hogan and Tod’s. Always at number 8, there’s also Nadine, an Italian chain of women’s fashion clothing. If children are your target, make a small deviation into the parallel of via Rasori, where, at number 4, you’ll find a delectable boutique, simply spilling over with surprises, SophiePetit. And while you’re here, bear in mind that there’s another gem, whose “toys”, in this case, are more likely to appeal to the ladies: Martino & Mazzolini, at number 8, is an intriguing goldsmith’s workshop that creates bronze jewellery using an ancient technique that has almost disappeared. Finally, walking towards Sant’Ambrogio, don’t miss a visit to the famed Belgian chocolate atelier Neuhaus.