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One shop that we wanted to visit is Alessi‘s flagship store, because we want to add a few more pieces to our set of cutlery (Achille Castiglioni). According to our guidebook, it is on Corso G. Matteotti.  Instead, we found Spazio Fornasetti which was a pleasant surprise.  Lina Cavalieri’s face remains mysterious and enigmatic even after having seen 100’s of variations of it.  The storekeeper was friendly but followed us so closely that it was uncomfortable.

Continuing with our search for Alessi, the people at Driade (see earlier post) told us that it is further up via A. Manzoni.  All we found there was a half-renovated/dismantled storefront which says Alessi.  Can’t tell if it is yet to open or just closed.  We gave up. So we walked up and down via  A. Manzoni many times before exploring via della Spiga and via Montenapoleone.

Across the street from Driade at Via A. Manzoni 31 is Spazio Armani – an entire building of Giorgio Armani’s businesses, including a soon-to-open hotel. The front of the entrance is covered by a giant billboard (below).

Given the floor size and varieties of stuff (including electronic gadgets) sold in this retail space, it really feels like an emporium and not a boutique – the real Emporio Armani.  It carries Armani Jeans and their EA7 sporty line in collaboration with Reebok.

In the building, there are separately a book shop (graphics, art, fashion focused) and a caffe with entrances on the side next to the Montenapoleone metro.

Every surface inside Spazio Armani is dark and glossy – yet the caffe is decorated in red, green and black with screens which makes it feels like a Chinese dim sum house from the 90’s.

Tiramisu from the caffe – the layer of chocolate powder on top was so fine that I inhaled some, potent stuff.

Just behind Spazio Armani is this neat looking newstand for the fashionistas.

We also wandered into Manzoni 37 which says Armani Casa.  Upon entry, we noticed that it is only a kitchen and bathroom showroom.  Apparently, Armani has joined forces with Roca (Spanish brand) to make kitchen and bathroom hardware – I mean the large pieces of sink, toilet, etc.  A saleswoman came to tell us that the store that sells furniture and household items is somewhere else (via Sant’Andrea 9) and gave us a map.  I think it happens at this store several times a day.

We did eventually go to the GA boutique on via Montenapoleone which was packed with tourists.  With a rather un-boutique like attitude, one of the saleswoman was trying to hard-sell Sue a python handbag for 2000 euros !  She followed us around and even tried to convince me of the merits of the bag.  I wondered if this sales tactic is used because it had success with Asian tourists before.

Further up via A. Manzoni 12 is the showroom of Artemide, it was closed at the time but one can see Zaha Hadid’s Gensey light in white (placed next to the steps).  Have to go back next time.

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