Adventures in Milan – Day 5, coming home

Milan Italy fashion clothes travel holiday Gucci Versace coffee D&GMy last day. I decide to skip the hotel breakfast and skip off on my own for a last perfect Italian coffee at Café Passarella, where my Milanese adventure started.

I sit under the outside heater with my laptop and wonder why the rest of the patrons are not at work at 9am. It’s still raining but I decide I have the time and inclination to get soaked whilst having a last walk through Milan.

I really want to go up and down those side streets that I spotted last night when we were looking for an open restaurant at 7.45pm. So I do.

45 minutes of walking up and down cobbled, almost empty streets peering into the windows of closed designer show rooms and it’s time to walk back to the hotel. As I come out onto the main street, I realise I’m only a few minutes away from the hotel and 30 minutes away from the taxi to take us on our journey back home.

It’s been ten years since I was last in Italy although not in Milan. I did fly back from Milan last time and as the plane took off, I noticed the biggest ever advert which simply stated ‘Giorgio Armani’ like the designer was the airport’s sponsor.

That and a lifelong study made me think that Milan, more than Florence, Rome, Venice and even gorgeous Verona will have row upon row of designer stores.

I’d expected them to be scattered across the city like McDonalds. I certainly expect there to be flagship homage to the great and good of Italian fashion. But no, they are mostly tucked away in a little area known as the ‘Fashion District’ and these are not for the average consumer; no these are for serious collectors, fashion buyers and editors. They certainly don’t look open. None of that spoilt my enjoyment of spotting each and every delectable store of course.

My favourite thing about visiting Italy is that I know every coffee will be great, no matter where I buy it from. The first day in the hotel was suspect but much improved when they made a fresh pot; they were replicating ‘American’ coffee for the tourist and I guess because it‘s lot easier for them if we can help ourselves rather than employing someone to make each cup.

However, ten years later, I’ve forgotten that big coffees don’t exist here so I cannot linger with a book or indeed my net book. I’ve yet to see what the world calls ‘Italian coffee’, I call sickly milky stuff and you will probably call latte in Italy.

On the other hand, I so rarely have it in the UK it’s lovely to spend a few mornings filled with cappuccinos. 

Discoveries: McDonalds’ McCafe, complete with above average coffee – i.e. better than most UK coffee shops (I said ‘most’) and I had no trouble finishing of the Tiramisu too. In regular cafes, coffee ranged from €2.80 to €4 and that’s just when I noticed the price so the €1.10 for a decent cup in McCafe is refreshing (excuse the pun).

Old discoveries that thankfully still hold true; fabulous coffee, pizzeria on every street, pasta at every cafe and everyone speaks English when they shouldn’t have to!

I love Italy!

Milan Italy fashion clothes travel holiday Gucci Versace coffee D&G

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Black is Black

5 ways to brighten up black

Hands up who wears black? Every day? Who has black as their fall-back, safe, easy, comfortable colour?

For the legions of fans of black there are many reasons to wear it, besides flattery and they are all good ones: black goes with everything…well, almost.

Read more of article published on Little Pink Book

Today at Biba – Adventures in Birmingham

House of Fraser
September 20th 2010

I am not in the market for clothes, in fact I rarely am. I have so many and I love them all so I never utter the line ‘I have nothing to wear.’ The fact that most of my clothes are being held hostage 3300 miles away does not mean that I won’t have them back, hopefully sooner rather than later.
I think it was writing about shopping for a couple of days that made me walk into House of Fraser for a little light relief.

Upon entering the new Biba section, I’m instantly transformed to the little girl I was in the 1970’s looking at fashion magazines over my older sisters’ shoulders.
I don’t recall the skinny jeans (so not 1970s, surely) but the trademark flowing chiffon, embroidery, puffed shoulders and bat wing sleeves all ring a bell. I’d imagine more browns than greys but of course this is Biba 2010, not 1975.

I browsed for a while and was about to leave when pounced upon by the enthusiastic sales lady who immediately ran around finding me dresses to try on despite me answering ‘no’ to her question ‘Are you looking for anything special’.
I protested that because there are at least six of each item, my concern would be running into someone else wearing the exact same thing, which is my worst* nightmare.

Biba lady said that won’t happen as each item is available in different colours too. Oh, so there are 12 of each, so that makes worst nightmare even more likely.
She then showed me a lovely dress that was their ‘best seller’, again highlighting the chance of me running into an identically dressed woman.

I said anyway, the dress despite having other colours, is still black and I don’t really like to wear black also propounding the fact that other people are more likely to be wearing that too.
Finally, after showing me yet another black dress, she heard me say I like wearing colours such as purple…..

Before I could say I’ve already got a purple dress, I’m shown two purple dresses. I’m even persuaded to try on a said purple dress, annoyingly in my size and the one above, which I do providing I can try on a long, perfect with skinny jeans, grey, wool top. (Or sweater if you must). Turns out the smaller dress fits me fine, if a little loose and this top is perfect.

I then leave all the items in the changing room and make my escape via the Mango section.

This is about listening to what your customer wants not about my dislike of wearing too much black.
If Biba lady had listened, I’d have happily spent £55 which on a quiet Monday morning I imagine her employer welcomes.
I’m not in the market for a gorgeous, grey top and it is rare indeed I pay full price for anything but this I will have got a lot of wear out of over the coming months.

I may still do, let’s see how I feel tomorrow.

*not worst nightmare generally, but in the ‘wearing same clothes a someone else in the room’ category.