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I have to say I had a great time in Milano.  I don’t think I could live there with all the fog and smog.  It’s too cold during the winters (ten years in Los Angeles, has clearly thinned my blood) and too grey.

The “rivalry” between Rome and Milan is similar to the one between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  I swear when I hear Milanese talk about Rome it sounds like a person from San Francisco complaining about flaky Angelenos. Meanwhile many Angelenos say San Francisco is a fake New York and needs to get over itself.

The vibe in Milan is completely different from Rome’s. As a Milanese friend said to me once, “Milan is an European city. Rome is an Italian city.”

It’s a smaller city, with Milan’s city limits population at 1.3 million compared to Rome’s 2.8 million.  Milan is the business, fashion, media/advertising, and design capital of Italy and many international companies like Google and Sony base their Italian offices there.

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One thing that cracked me up was that every single cab driver (I took a lot of cabs thanks to the strikes. Sigh) told me they thought Rome was beautiful but could never drive there.

When people who drive for a living tell you a place has insane drivers, one must pay heed.  One cab driver said, “Look at this traffic!  See how we have lanes here and it’s orderly?  That doesn’t happen in Rome.”  I learned to drive stick in Rome and had to agree with his observation.

I’ve often heard that the Milanese were not friendly.  That wasn’t my experience at all.  Maybe everyone I met was in a good mood because of the Salone?

On Saturday morning I was looking for a textile showroom located on a small side street not far from the stock exchange. I couldn’t get over how quiet it was. I felt like I was in NYC’s Financial District.  At 10:30 a.m. Rome is already crowded with tour buses and huge groups of tourists following a tour guide holding an stick/flag/umbrella.

When I saw Cattelan’s (one of Italy’s most famous contemporary artists) piece, I gasped.  I could not imagine a work of art like that on Wall Street, especially as the finger is being given to us, the public.  I thought it was a very astute comment on the financial meltdown of 2008.  When it was unveiled many business people were not pleased but the mayor stood firm.  It was only supposed to be there for a month.  It might remain in its current location until 2013, then moved to a museum.

Next time I go to Milan, I hope I have time to see some art. And the Prada flagship store.

This was the first time I’ve been in Milan for longer than 24 hours and only my second visit.  I had a great, yet exhausting, trip.

I do realize I saw the city at its most happening.   I will write a separate post about Milan. I cannot wait to return.

The Salone (April 17-22) is one of the most important and popular design exhibitions in the world.

Over 300,000 people attend and there are events all over the city.   Fiera Milano Rho was the main exhibit hall. It’s massive.  I was shocked at how organized everything was.  It’s not easy to put on an event of this scale.

Listed below are a few of my favorite things from the Salone 2012.

The bathroom and kitchen exhibitions at RHO:

The Miele and Bosch cooking demonstrations.

The Diesel/Scavolini kitchen collaboration.

SMEG refrigerators with denim covers.

In the Center:

MERCI pop-up store – located in a courtyard off Via Tortona, the Parisian concept store was packed.

Idarica Gazzoni – This Italian textile designer is one of my favorite artists.  I love her use of color.

Paola C. – The studio spotlights young international artists working in glass, ceramics, and metals. The Foxy pitcher won the Wallpaper Design Award in 2011.

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Boffi – I had no idea their bathroom line was so extensive.  I could’ve stayed in the showroom for hours.

Dimore Studio – This interior, furniture and lighting design firm had one of the most beautiful spaces of the Salone.  No photos were allowed.  I saw some people sneaking shots anyway, which I thought was kind of rude.

Dedar – The firm where I interned used Dedar’s fabrics frequently.  Having the opportunity to visit the showroom was a highlight of my trip.  Their Hermès collaboration is everything.

Alessi – The Piana chair designed by David Chipperfield.

I just got back yesterday and I’m still processing my trip.  Now comes the downside of traveling, unpacking.

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