There’s no better place to do it than Milan. So why not take the slog out of Christmas shopping and enjoy the lights, the atmosphere, the warmth of Italy’s most cosmopolitan city in full Yuletide swing? That you can do by putting yourself in the capable hands of a professional guide and design expert, a personal Christmas shopper who can lead you straight to the coolest spots for exclusive and original gifts – whatever kind you’re looking for.
Design starts at home. How about looking for inspiration at Solamente Giovedì, the new showcase for the ideas of venerable decorator Enrica Stabile, in her signature countrified style heavily laced with nostaglia? Or in another hidden courtyard space down by the Darsena, 100FA, for some serious vintage furnishings sourced mainly in the UK and France. In the same neck of the woods but with a strong leaning towards 20th-century design collectables, there’s Mauro Bolognesi gallery. If vintage is beginning to look a tad worn, then Untitled Homeware has a decidedly more contemporary bias: it’s where you’ll find Massimo Locatelli’s wonderful and accessibly-priced collection of tableware and furniture. And for the ultimate in Milanese design, there is always – will always be – Memphis and its Galleria Post Design.
We have some real gems to show you in the jewels and trinkets line. One of the Pellini stores, for example, for iconic contemporary pieces by Donatella Pellini handmade in the Milan atelier. Or Rosantica, where Michela Panero updates ideas rooted in Greek and Roman classics.
You could play safe with perfume and cosmetic gifts, so long as they’re the exclusive artistic brands you’ll find at, say, historic Profumo in Via Brera, established 1984 and so refined, or in the contemporary gallery-like spaces of Perfume by Calé. The Bar à Parfums by Olfattorio, again in the heart of town, offers the ultimate testing experience.
If you need to browse categories in search of insight, be guided to one of Milan’s extraordinary concept stores. Carla Sozzani’s 10 Corso Como, for example, is still a must for just about anything except a power tool, while Wait and See, the store opened by designer Uberta Zambeletti, stocks women’s fashion and accessories with a difference but also quirky stationery and unusual objects sourced around the globe.
Now you’re going to need a break from all this shopping. We suggest historic Cova in Via Cusani, for a slice of Milan’s finest, their exquisite panettone washed down with the exclusive panettone-based cocktail G. Cova & C. Shake - just to keep up your spirits. But then their packaging is so gorgeously retro you’re likely to be making purchases here too… On the same confectionary theme, supremely elegant Pasticceria Marchesi is another classic: since 1824 in Via Santa Maria alla Porta; also in Via Montenapoleone; and now in its latest incarnation in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, perfect for the tree and lights in Piazza Duomo.
And if gourmet goodies are beginning to sound like really good gift ideas, we won’t let you miss the bounty at Peck.
This is not an exhaustive list. You might have more traditional gifts or classic brands in mind, the latest in hi-tech gadgetry, the finest of fine art, old-fashioned books or just offbeat stocking-fillers: your guide knows where to go.