has long been known as Italy’s style and design capital, with season after season of ready-to-wear shows and the Salone del Mobile design fair attracting devoted fashion and design crowds. This year they were drawn as well to the recently opened Fondazione Prada Torre, in a once-dilapidated southern district of the city, which showcases a massive collection of 20th- and 21st-century art. But Milan also contains many hidden treasures—apartments designed by Renzo Mongiardino, houses by Piero Portaluppi, a tiny shop that sells exquisite bronze accessories—that take a little more work to uncover.
On Indagare’s recent Insider Journey, Martina Mondadori Sartogo, editor of Cabana magazine and author of The Interiors and Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino: A Painterly Vision, enabled us to see Milan as she does, through the eyes of an insider. “Some of the most renowned designers of the 20th century lived and worked in Milan, helping to create the design-city environment that one experiences today with Salone del Mobile,” says Mondadori Sartogo. However, she explains, much of their legacy is invisible to the casual visitor: “This is a city that lives behind closed doors. Many of its greatest treasures and pleasures are hidden in private homes to be shared only with close friends and family.”
Related: Milan Shopping Guide
Through her generosity, we were able to meet her friends and their families in their homes, view hidden gems by Mongiardino, Portaluppi and Giò Ponti and meet some of her favorite designers, dealers and collectors. There were many moments of beauty—from seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and visiting the Palazzo Crespi and Villa Necchi, where I Am Love was filmed, to our day on Lake Como. Mondadori Sartogo led us on several tours to amazing private homes in Milan, including her own and others designed by Mongiardino, the favorite decorator of such arbiters of taste as Lee Radziwill, Guy de Rothschild and Marella Agnelli.
As a result, the city unfolded to us in what felt like a revelation provided by an old friend rather than a simple discovery. By the end of the trip, it was the personal connections that made the biggest impact for many of us. “The Milan trip offered a bountiful visual feast, but the Indagare group truly fed my soul,” said Sabina Schlumberger, capturing beautifully what I think many felt. That combination will certainly provide memories to return to for inspiration and appreciation.
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