Four years ago, the Museo del Gioiello (above) — Italy’s first museum dedicated entirely to jewelry — opened in this longtime goldsmithing city.
Its current exhibition, open through the end of the year, chronicles the progression of jewelry, from hefty Iron Age earrings to high-tech designs produced using 3-D computer modeling — a signature of local powerhouse brand Roberto Coin (a major supporter of the museum).
Where to stay & play: Soak up the Palladian architecture by staying in the city center, at Glam Boutique Hotel, and try the fish-heavy Venetian cuisine at trattoria Al Pestello (Contrá Santo Stefano, 3).
Bulgari’s love affair with Rome began early: Its first flagship, dubbed the Old Curiosity Shop, in a nod to Dickens, opened there in 1905.
Always philanthropic, Bulgari underwrote the renovation of the city’s famous Spanish Steps, a $1.7 million project completed in 2016.
Its latest commitment to the Eternal City? The just-opened New Curiosity Shop (above, Via dei Condotti, 11a). A quirky temple to the brand, this site focuses on limited-edition watches and jewelry, mostly exclusive to this store. You’ll want to make more than one trip, as its design and concept will reboot entirely every six months.
The debut theme: mirabilia — Latin for “marvels.”
Where to stay & play: The chic crowd hides out at Hotel Locarno, a Belle Epoque gem whose al fresco courtyard is the place to see and be seen (ideally, drinking negronis) every evening.
Call it the City of Light and Enlightenment. The latter is on offer at L’École des Arts Joailliers, a 6-year-old school (right) offering classes on every aspect of jewelry, from history to gemology. Housed in the 18th-century Van Cleef & Arpels maison at 22 Place Vendôme, its (bilingual) gem-world cred is impeccable.
Between classes, check out the handsome three-story global flagship for Chanel’s jewelry line (left), two doors down at No. 18.
Where to stay & play: The hippest hood in Paris is SoPi, or South of Pigalle. Hang with the bobos (that’s “bourgeois bohemians”), whether crashing at the hipster-meets-Poirot Grand Pigalle hotel or partying till dawn at DJ-powered club Glass.
Forget the “David” — Florence’s newest attraction is the Gucci Garden (Piazza della Signoria, 10), set in a 14th-century palazzo not far from Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
Don’t expect trees, though: This is an Eden for lovers of the brand, a three-story concept store with more than a whiff of Wes Anderson whimsy. Browse exclusive merch (look for the ornate bracelets from the Garden collection), settle in for some avant-garde movies at the 30-seat cinema or learn the history of its many design signatures at the onsite museum.
Then grab a table at Gucci Osteria (above), a cafe masterminded by Michelin-anointed Massimo Bottura. Surprisingly affordable, it’s the fash pack’s new canteen.
Where to stay & play: Take your pick among Ferragamo-run hotels — the grandest, the Lungarno by the Ponte Vecchio, has just reopened after a major renovation. Indulge in hearty Tuscan-style cooking at Trattoria 13 Gobbi — sit outside and linger over a glass of Chianti.
Make Milan your base to visit Valenza, the goldsmithing hub just 90 minutes’ drive south, near the River Po. One-third of the city’s inhabitants work with jewelry, scattered between 1,200 or so workshops.
There are mom-and-pop operations alongside some major names, including Vhernier and Pasquale Bruni. The latter offers a two-day guided tour hosted by creative director Eugenia Bruni, including visits to the workshop (above) and indulgences like a truffle dinner.
Back in Milan, make a pilgrimage to Pomellato’s historic flagship on Via San Pietro all’Orto, 17. This is where the brand, founded in the 1960s, pioneered the now-obvious idea that jewelry isn’t to be saved for special occasions but worn every day.
Where to stay & play: Indulge at Ceresio 7, the rooftop pool/restaurant owned by Dsquared2 twins Dan and Dean Caten. The gorgeously renovated Excelsior Hotel Gallia is a discreet crash pad walking distance away.
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