El Resentin

resentin.jpgThis restaurant has a story with a happy ending!
El Resentin* used to be a wine-bar, or better a “grappa” bar open ’til late every night, where actors from the nearby theatre could find a quiet place to have a drink after the show. It opened 25 years ago on the ashes of a bistro that had been there since the 1920s. But in the spring of 2007 it closed down.
Then Rome-born Eros Ramazzotti, the famous singer, who lives nearby in the Brera neighbourhood and used to have breakfast in a café on the other side of the street, noticed the closed windows and thought it could be nice to open a restaurant to build even stronger roots in Milan and in the neighbourhood that had always made him feel welcome.
He bought the place and last September the “new” Resentin opened for business. The idea was to have a nice and welcoming place where one could eat like at home, and where families could feel welcome.
The menu is simple with a few starters, about five “primi piatti” of pasta and rice, about five mains (meat and fish), a few nice salads and very good desserts. Complemented by a serious wine list. The selection is modern and traditional at the same time, quite a good mix! (more…)

Handbags’ paradise

galleria.jpgI recently took a stroll in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the only covered gallery in Milan that connects the Duomo Square to the La Scala Square. It was built in the second half of the nineteenth century and traditionally it was considered Milan’s ‘good sitting room’. It used to be lined with luxury boutiques and nice cafés, and they all had black signs with gold writing.  Then in the 1980s the quality of the shops fell and the Galleria wasn’t a shopping destination anymore. The central octagon still hosts a MacDonalds (with a very sober black sign!), but now the wind has changed and in the space of 50 meters, under the same glass volts, you can find Tod’s, Prada, Gucci and Luis Vuitton.  So if you need a handbag you know where to go!  (more…)

Kid-proofed holiday

hotel.jpgSay that you want to go on holiday, that your husband cannot take days off, that you can’t handle all (or one) of your kids by yourself, that you have no nanny to take along, and that you do not want your mum or his mum around.  This is when you should seriously think about Hotel del Bambino in Finale Ligure, on the Italian Riviera.
This small hotel accommodates only families with children and is TOTALLY baby-proofed, most likely more than your own home. It is obviously fully equipped to welcome children of all ages with cots, baby baths, changing tables and all sort of electrical equipment you may need.
But these are just things. What I think makes the difference in this place are the owners: Mr. Gianni and his wife, Sapienza. They truly love children and have devoted a lot of effort and thinking to how they can make your life on holiday with kids easier. (more…)

Butterfly Oasis

farfalle.jpgLast Sunday we decided to face the afternoon heat (we are now in the 30s here) and head to the Giardini Pubblici to visit the new Butterfly Oasis next to the Natural History Museum. It’s a pavilion that hosts an exhibition of many species of butterflies, imported weekly from Africa, South America and Sout-East Asia. The 200 sqm area is divided in two sections. The first part explores the meaning of colours in nature, with loads of pictures and a few live animals. The second part is the true butterfly exhibit, where a tropical environment is recreated to showcase butterflies and cocoons in their habitual settings. The visitor can walk through plants and climbing orchids while butterflies fly all around him. The Butterfly Oasis is, at this stage, a temporary project open until the end of September but the administration says they will, by the end of the year, open a permanent butterfly house that will be four times bigger, making it the largest in Italy. We had a nice time, and although it is not as big and nice as the one in the London Zoo, I highly recommend it, especially if you or your kids have never seen a butterfly house!
Another positive effect: after standing in true tropical heat to look at the butterflies, even Milan weather is more bearable!

-Michela

Temporary but cool!

benetton2.jpgThe latest trend in Milan is something called temporary shops. These are stores which are open for a short and fixed period of time. The reasons may vary — sometimes it’s because the flagship store is being refurbished, sometimes an outlet for last season’s collection is needed, sometimes it’s a rehearsal for something new to come.
The last reason is what is behind the new Benetton temporary shop in the very centre of Milan. It’s a baby/children concept store that will stay open for two months, until the end of July. The clothes on sale belong to the Autumn-Winter 2008 collection and you can also find a maternity range. The decor is quite cool and there are also a few services new to any children’s shop in Milan.  There is a personal shopper that can help with selecting the next season’s key pieces, and there is a hair stylist from the Aldo Coppola team that will cut your child’s hair for free!
Benetton PR claims a new store with these characteristics will open permanently in Milan by the end of this year.

-Michela

Customise your stroller

bonnebonnet.jpgThe Bugaboo, although not perfect, is still my favourite stroller… but I’m not the only fan, so it can happen that at some mothers’ gatherings, there are so many Bugaboos you may get confused and not recognize your own. It’s true that the fabric combinations allow some diversity but you may still feel the need to show your personality a bit more.
In that case the new BonneBonnet Canopy may just be what you need!  It will perfectly fit (any type) of Bugaboo and comes in an extensive selection of lovely fabrics (both summer and winter weight). This stylish makeover kit was invented by two New York mums with a passion for mixing style and creativity with babygear. They have a small selection available online (they ship internationally) and a few retailers in the US.
Fortunately, for those living in Milan, there is something very similar. At Salina (my favourite baby equipment shop) they sell a summer cover for the Bugaboo (with a terry lining) and matching canopy. You can get funky ’70s style dots, summery prints, or more serious solid colours. They are made specifically for the shop by an artisan, who can make you one with your chosen fabric if you do not find anything you like!

-Michela

Design, Michelin stars and kids

design.jpgWhat have they got in common? Nothing you’d think. But they successfully coalesce in the new Coffee Design here in Milan, which reopened in full swing this April.
The place has just been refurbished by Michele De Lucchi, and it is now more sleek and airy. The kitchen is now behind a huge glass wall and chefs can been seen working from the main bar counter. The menu is the fruit of the cooperation of Carlo Cracco — a Michelin starred chef, and the Autogrill group, already present in more than 50 locations where food and culture mix, like the Prado museum, the Jardin de Versailles or the Empire State Building. sedia4.jpgThe menu is a balanced mix between delicious sandwiches, healthy salads, selections of cheese and cold cuts and a few warm traditional Italian dishes presented in a very modern way. There is also an impressive wine list!

So where do the kids fit in? You can get every dish in a child’s portion for about 2/3 of the price! So civilized, and so rare in Milan…

-Michela

Flower show in Milan

orti2.jpgThe 13th flower show of the Orticultural Association of Lombardy Orticola” took place last weekend in Milan in the nice surroundings of Giardini Pubblici.  It was obviously nice to look at all the flowers, plants and garden furniture on show, but what I thought was surprising was the effort made to make children feel welcomed! For the three days of the show, children (who enter free until they are 12) could attend all sorts of labs, where activities were designed to put them in touch with nature… and I believe city kids need all the contact they can get. (more…)

She does not look older than 25…

sacco-1.jpg….but she is 40!!  I am talking about the Sacco chair by Zanotta.
It was designed in 1968 by three architects: Gatti, Paolini and Teodoro, and it hasn’t gone out of fashion since. The cover can be leather, leather-like, heavy cloth or plastic, and it is filled with highly resistant polystyrene pellets. Over the years it has been produced in every possible colour! In 1972 it went on display at the MoMA and now a total of 26 museums have included Sacco in their permanent collection of contemporary or applied art. (more…)

Affirmative action for young men

amelia.jpgClothes shopping is probably the only place where being a woman has its advantages, even from a very early age. More choice, more styles, more colours. If you are a mother of a boy I’m sure you have experienced some frustration when shopping for your son. Typically in shops, there is much more devoted to little girl’s clothes.
Maria Cristina, owner of ‘Lunamora Boy’ here in Milan, had a boy after 3 girls and when shopping for the little one she realised she was not as happy with the choice available as when she was shopping for the girls. That’s why she decided to open a shop where she would sell only boy’s clothes. This tiny boutique at the end of Via Solferino, in the Brera neighbourhood, is heaven for stylish little men – from newborn up to 12 years. She stocks mostly Italian brands, like Amelia, Kangra, Grifoni, Brooksfield, Gant, Sun68. (more…)

A week in Milan

trammilano.jpgMonday:
Take it easy on Monday morning, as so many things are closed! Go to a nice bar and have the typical Italian breakfast: cappuccino and cornetto (the italian croissant) and get a babyccino for your kids. To get the full experience you should have it quickly and while standing up, but that may not be ideal with children in tow.
Wherever you are you should not be too far from a stop of the 29/30 tram line: it’s a line that does a complete loop around Milan following the (now inexistent) Spanish walls. The trams in service on this line are very old, similar to San Francisco’s cable cars, and children love them! Wait until rush hour is over and board one, tickets are 1 euro and kids below 10 go free.
Get off in Corso Vercelli, one of the nicest shopping streets in Milan. Corso Vercelli, together with its continuation Via Belfiore and Via Marghera is probably one of the best places for shoes, kid’s shops and jewellery (together with everything else). Take a break and have a gelato at Grom, undoubtedly the best ice cream in the world! Reboard the tram and complete your tour. (more…)

Ice cream season is now open

grom2.jpgSpring is here! Days are longer and warmer… which means more ice cream to me.
I’m very lucky to live a short walk from one of the best ice cream makers in the world. I’m talking about Grom.
Grom is a pretty young company, started by two thirty-somethings living in Piedmont and already active on the wine scene. They noticed that there was a gap in the market — nobody applied to ice cream making the same attitude that top restaurants have with cooking: buy the best and freshest ingredients. So they started their business venture and it’s going very well. (more…)

Pasqua

uova_di_pasqua5.jpgEaster is quite an important day in Italy given our Catholic inheritance.
It comes at the end of Lent — a period during which for religious reasons (or simply for tradition) many people make sacrifices and give something up… like sweets, or shoe shopping! During lent it is also quite common not to eat meat on Fridays; fasting is instead prerogative of the very religious.
Despite this period of abstinence, the windows of patisseries and confectionery shops are full of chocolate in the shape of eggs, rabbits and lambs, all in very sweet pastel colours resembling the coming of spring. Children open their eggs on Easter morning and find a little surprise in them. If you have something special you wish to give on Easter day, you can ask a confectionery to prepare an egg especially for you and insert your little gift inside (quite romantic I must say). Egg hunts are not part of our tradition here in Italy. (more…)

The Italian way

maternita_320x250_255.jpgI’ve had two babies. One born in London, and my second born in Milan. I found the whole experience of childbirth to be much different here in Italy compared to northern Europe (and probably the U.S).

For starters, women in Italy get to stay in hospital much longer after the birth. Even with a straight-forward, uncomplicated delivery, the minimum hospital stay is 3 days. During those three days mummy is checked daily by doctors, midwives and nurses. Baby sees a paediatrician everyday. And then once you leave the hospital everybody forgets about you; post-natal care at home is non existent here! (more…)

Design immersion

triennale1.jpgMuseums in Milan are not too exciting for kids; they could do with some re-styling and the addition of some hands-on activities. So when Esther came for a visit on one of the few rainy weekends in January, I was not sure where we could go with our four kids! (Shopping all day was definitely out of the question)!
I opted for a lunch at the cafeteria of la Triennale followed by a visit to the just opened Design Museum. poltrona_proust.jpg
La Triennale foundation di Milano is a cultural institution that funds and hosts exhibitions and various cultural activities in the fields of architecture, design and contemporary art. Since 1933 it has been based in Milan, in the Palazzo dell’Arte, which is located quite conveniently (on a sunny day) next to Parco Sempione, a decent-sized urban park.
The choice couldn’t have been better… even though they were refurbishing the kitchens so all we could get for lunch were (nicely filled) paninis! (more…)

Snow & kids

buffaure.jpg


My family spent last week in Pozza di Fassa, in the Dolomites region of northern Italy. I knew from the start that it was not going to be an intensive skiing holiday (my daughter is breastfed and my older son has become quite clingy since the birth of his sister). There was no way I could escape for a whole day for some much needed activity on the slopes… but I was hoping for a few hours of freedom here and there.
My plans were immediately offset when my mother-in-law broke her wrist on the first day. (She was supposed to help me entertain the kids and let me have some alone-time).

It was then that the ParkBimboNeve, a sort of ‘kinderheim’ (which I didn’t take into great account at the very beginning of the holiday), suddenly looked like the best invention after the pill and the washing machine–all of which work in favour of women liberation! (more…)

In-depth interviews and time in the spotlight…

Gosh, we feel rather important this week…

The girls at Tangled and True just did a week-long feature about us (and some of their favourite things from Europe). They interviewed each of us on separate days, making us feel oh–so special and very cool. We’re so flattered that they like our site and are interested in our daily lives. It was a privilege to be featured on their very lovely site!

Thank you • Dank u wel • Merci • Grazie!!!

Milano Sofa Beds

Milano Sofa BedIn this expensive city I call home– where houses (er flats) are small and space is a great commodity– only the very privileged have the luxury of a guest bedroom. But many of us are ex-pats here in London who have friends and family making regular visits from abroad. Guest bedrooms (or at the very least, an extra bed) are in high demand!

After making our guests sleep on an air mattress for over a year, I decided there must be a better solution… And after a very long search (scouring at least 20 different furniture and sofa stores), I found it: a sofa-bed that is comfortable (and good-looking as well)! The Milano Sofa Bed is an extremely well-designed and sleek sofa that converts effortlessly into a sturdy and comfortable bed. (Even my mom, who has been known to buy and return more than 10 mattresses before finding one she agrees with, thinks it’s comfortable)!

(more…)

Vietato non toccare.

munari.jpgI took my older son to this exhibition whose title could be (freely) translated as “Please do not touch”. It’s in the Triennale, and it’s only for kids between the age of 2 and 6. It’s an interactive exhibition dedicated to the little ones and inspired by Bruno Munari ’s work. Munari, a famous Italian artist, had a great consideration for children and used to think their games were “very serious pastimes”. The exhibition is an interactive circuit where children discover things by touching them.

(more…)

Sleeping bags and the duvet generation.

grobag3.jpgI definitely belong to the duvet-generation; I believe that nothing beats the feeling of being snugly wrapped in a light down-filled duvet! But more importantly, I hate making the bed in the traditional way (or more precisely I am not able to properly make such beds). Layers of sheets and blankets are a burden in many ways!
So there was not a chance I was going to make a traditional bed for my kids!

(more…)

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