What makes the Golden Rectangle, or Quadrilatero d’Oro so special is its density. In an area that is just 270 by 500 metres (about ten streets) you can shop the very finest fashion, watches and jewellery in the world. This lack of space makes the area very much in demand for luxury brands, and Via Montenapoleone is the sixth most expensive street in the world for retail property.
But its not only shops that makes this area special. There is much much more to see, with two beautiful museums and many hotels and restaurants offering delightful culinary experiences. Here's our whistlestop guide...
The building dating to 1937 presents the entire Armani world, and you could spend hours here moving from the seventh-floor hotel to the Emporio Armani Caffé for coffee or brunch, Armani/Nobu for sushi, and all the Armani fashion universe, including flowers and chocolates.
For many years, the brand founded in 1884 worked above all with its original Rome boutique, much loved by Elizabeth Taylor (her husband Richard Burton said “The only word Liz knows in Italian is Bulgari,” and on another occasion, “I introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari”). The Milan boutique was opened in the lovely courtyard on Via Montenapoleone in 2006.
The heels are superbly showcased on the organic, curving shelves in Zaha Hadid’s glorious interior design that attracts architecture and design enthusiasts as well as footwear fanatics.
Tiffany & Co.
Few brands have become such an integral part of modern culture as Tiffany, with its name appearing in the film classic ‘Breakfast at ...,’ in the Tiffany setting, probably the most famous engagement ring in the world, and the light robin egg colour better known as Tiffany Blue.
The first Tory Burch flagship for Italy is in Via della Spiga, and it opened in December 2014, presenting the designer’s colourful collections whose principal feature is their versatility, ideal for use during the day and through to the evening.
Rolex – Pisa Orologeria
The recently-renewed Rolex boutique is hallmarked by the classic colours and materials, timber and beige plaster, but with green accents from the long sales desk whose colour recalls the marine environment that has always been associated with the brand. Inside, there is a panoramic lift looking onto a vertical garden by Patrick Blanc, and an exquisite garden-terrace on the fourth floor.
The brand opened its flagship store in June 2014, a three-floor fantasy in plate glass, bronze, dark ribbed wood panelling, marble and travertine, displaying the products to perfection and hosting bespoke services such as the sartorial atelier.
Poldi Pezzoli Museum
This collection is based on a private collection gathered by Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli in the late 19th century, comprising works of art, armour, sculpture and more. Highlights include the profile of a noblewoman by Pollaiolo; other artists include Piero della Francesca, Giovanni Bellini, Botticelli, Canaletto and more. One of the few museums to be open on Mondays.
Poldi Pezzoli Museum
Bagatti Valsecchi Museum
Curiously, both the museums in the Quadrilatero are museum-houses originating in the 19th century. The Bagatti Valsecchi is particularly interesting because it is an attempt to recreate a Renaissance home by the eponymous brothers, who had no qualms about commissioning copies or period-style interpretations to accompany the genuine Renaissance objets d’art.
DINING IN THE QUADRILATERO
A pageant of historic restaurants specialising in traditional cuisine
A classic for Milan, a Tuscan restaurant that has been in Via Borgospesso since 1939 and still works with the same impeccable professional skill, attracting Milan’s high society. It is named after the founder Beatrice Mungai, born in 1901. In addition to Tuscan classics there are some Milanese recipes such as ossobuco, risotto allo zafferanno and cassoela. www.bicemilano.it
Antico Ristorante Boeucc
Impeccable service and a beautiful setting, the restaurant expresses the classical sophistication of Milan, with a menu that includes local specialities, as well as excellent fish. www.boeucc.it
This restaurant has been operating for 90 years, the first Italian book prize began here, and it has traditionally been a favourite amongst writers, painters and intellectuals. This is why the interiors are covered with paintings, murals and frescoes. Tuscan cuisine, service with a touch of that idiosyncrasy that is often a feature of Milan’s most authentic venues. www.bagutta.it
THE DUEL OF THE CAFFETTERIE
There are two of Milan’s most famous pastryshops in the Quadrilatero, Cova and Sant’Ambroeus, and one of these august institutions has been at the centre of tough strategic competition. Cova, founded in 1817, was finally purchased by LVMH in 2013, after negotiations between the pastryshop and Prada came to naught. In March 2014, Prada bought 80% of Marchesi, another pastryshop on Corso Magenta, and the fashion brand will open two new Marchesi caffetterias, one in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and one in Via Montenapoleone, right opposite Cova! Things are warming up on the coffee front...
In the Armani flagship on Via Manzoni, right under Armani/Nobu, this club is perfect for fashionistas, who have a perfect backdrop in the minimalist Japanese-inspired décor with red lanterns by Armani/Casa. Strict entry selection, good cocktails.
More Milan area guides...