Embracing Italy

A sublime blend of art, fashion, architecture, gastronomy, and spectacular scenery!

Monarch takes you on a six-day tour of Milan and Florence.

When it comes to a location that possesses everything that a traveler loves, one can not find a better location that Italy.

Italy satisfies a world traveler’s tastebuds in numerous ways. It evokes the historian, inspires the fashionista within us, and brings forth the latent culinary gifts that we believe are suppressed.

So visiting Italy any time will enable you to capture these moments, but a stand-out moment is during Fashion Week! There is a electricity in the air that seems to be only happening at this moment.

Starting at the Via Montenapoleone to the bar at the Four Seasons, the electricity is everywhere. It is amazing watching the fleets of black Range Rovers pull up at the Four Seasons to drop off the likes of Ana Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld, and Valentino. The paparazzi surrounds the area, waiting to capture images of the fashion elite.

If that experience is not for you, but you would like to start with more of a history lesson in design, then move on to the Triennale Design Museum. The museum is dedicated to Italian design. From Ferrari to Versace the museum gives an evolution of legendary Italian design. And as a bonus, go to the

Piazza del Duomo. The piazza marks the center of the city, both in a geographical and artistic sense.

The piazza includes some of the most important buildings in Milan including the magnificent Duomo di Milano. The Duomo (or Cathedral in English) is an icon of over-the-top Gothic architecture and took six centuries to complete. No trip to Milan would be complete without a climb up to the roof top to see the incredible craftsmanship up close and get great views of the piazza. Within the piazza is the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Galleria has a cool mix of stores; so now that you are inspired you can fully enjoy the shopping. And right across from the Duomo is the new Museo del Novecento. Striking and modern, it has a spiral ramp that brings visitors up to the galleries. I mean one can never get sick of twentieth-century Italian art by some of the masters: Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, and many other incredible talents. The view from the top floor is nothing short of spectacular. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame an unobstructed view of the Piazza del Duomo.

After A big day of sightseeing we worked up an appetite so it’s time to head back to La Veranda, at the Four Seasons Hotel for an incredible Italian dinner. Greeted withelegant décor and lovely views of the inner gardens, large French doors open to a terrace that offers al fresco dining during clement weather. A seasonal menu features regional cuisine prepared with a contemporary twist, accompanied by exceptional Italian wines.

After a stellar Italian meal we needed to see a couple more things to make our Florentine getaway complete. I have always wanted to see Michelangelo’s original “David.” We made our way to the Galleria dell’Accademia to view the seventeen-foot marble masterpiece. It literally takes your breath away. People just stand there and stare at it in awe. It is nothing short of perfection in every sense of the word. A lot of people think the statue of David that is in the Palazzo della Signoria is the original. In fact it’s a copy. The original was moved to the Accademia in 1873 and was replaced with a replica.

Last but certainly not least we entered Palazzo Pitti. Located on the south side of the Arno River the Pitti Palace was originally the private residence of a wealthy banker but was purchased by the Medici in 1549. It currently houses a series of galleries including the Palatine Gallery which is room after room of floor-to-ceiling opulence. Renaissance paintings jockey for space on the elegant walls and the effect is completely overwhelming. Behind Pitti Palace is the wonderful Boboli Gardens which is an eleven-acre oasis of sixteenth-century Italian design. It’s the perfect place for a stroll or a picnic lunch. I think I learned more about art history in six days than I learned in four years of college!

To this day Italy feels like a preserved tomb of riches. What you still see, feel and embrace is a place where art, culture and passion are a lifestyle. I understand why so many people who were born here might not want to leave. The next time people ask me where they should go on vacation, my answer will be Italy for sure.