The Quad d’Oro (literally the ‘golden square’) lies sandwiched between Via Manzoni and Corso Venezia in central Milan, the shining pinnacle of luxury-label shopping in a city dedicated to the pursuit of fashion and bella figura. Sophisticated Italian fashionistas stalk the four hallowed streets of Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant' Andrea, Via Borgospesso and Via della Spiga with frightening intent to seek out the latest offerings from Chanel, Gucci, Armani, Tod’s, Versace, Vuitton, Prada and a multitude of other famous international brands. These elegant streets are lined with soft-stoned 16th-century palazzi and are also home to the HQs of several fashion brands as well as numerous smart cafés – Cova on Via Montenap is a particular favorite with shoppers for its gloriously strong coffee and tasty pastries – plus cool, stylish bars, clubs and restaurants.
Among the other shopping treasures to be found in the Quad d’Oro is the glittering Vetrerie di Empoli Milan (also on Via Montenap), where exquisite hand-blown glass is sold, and Acqua di Parma (Via Gesù), founded in 1916 and still selling lovingly packaged and gorgeous-smelling colognes in hand-made bottles. The Quad d’Oro is within easy walking distance of Milan’s Piazza del Duomo in the centro storico; bargain hunters should wait for the sales, held in January and July.