What’s your alleyway?

June 25, 2010

Milan is not really famous for its ancient buildings or picturesque ruins, but there is an area which has some distinctive traits that make it very, very fascinating. This is Brera, a suggestive quarter where artists live with famous fashion designers and small craftsman who still crowd its streets. If only you wandered around a maze of tight streets, you would be caught in a sophisticated atmosphere, and you would find a wide variety of  flowers or, better, of ways of “using flowers”.

From the classical shop (1)…



…to the specialization on just one kind of  blossom, rose, maybe the flower par excellence (2)…



…to the attention to their incredible scent! (3)



But what is more curious about the relation between flowers and Brera? In the first half of XVIII century streets didn’t have a name, neither the buildings a number. Milanese people should orient themselves referring to the entrances of the cities, rich palaces, columns and churches. Was the Austrian Joseph II who established that the streets should have a name. And nowadays, they are entitled to famous people, jobs, curiosities…

Two opposite crossbeams of via Brera are  via Fiori Chiari and via Fiori Oscuri.




The first one is related to an old building for virtuous girls, while the second one to a whorehouse. It makes sense, because girls are all compared to flowers, but some are clear as their souls, others obscure as their jobs. Others think that the name are related to some cultivations of the past and organized separating the lighter flowers from the darker ones, but this thought is less taken in consideration.

Last, but not the least, is another tiny alleyway…



(1)  The shop I’m referring to is “Lami”, in piazza San Marco, where I went to ask some information about the differences between stallholders and shopkeepers I dealt with in past posts.



(2)  I’ve never seen so many kinds of roses as I did at “Au nom de la rose”! From soap, to perfumes, to candles, sweets, honey, oils… A small shop with 1000-1500 blooms from everywhere: France, Holland, Kenya, Ecuador. A corner of France where touch, sense of smell, eyesight and taste are stimulated.



(3)  Have you have heard about a “Bar à parfums”? Well, in Brera there is just the so called olfattorio, “Penhaligon’s”. They wanted to create  authentic perfumes, wrapping and delicate, using floral essences for most of them, such as Bergamot, Musk and Freesia, Iris, Rose, Jasmin de muet.



One comment

  1. Hey, you’ve got me really interested now! I’d like to take a walking tour round the shops you mention. You should publish an itinerary + map, a kind of “Lonely Planet” flower walk!

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