Zegna Baruffa is an institution in the world of wool. Founded in the mid 19th century, the factory sits on the banks of the Sesia River in the foothills of the Alps in a town called Borgosesia. It’s been a progressive place since its inception, showing an unusual amount of respect to people, planet, and product.
We were given a behind the scenes tour of the factory, lifting the lid on what is widely regarded to be one of the most intricate and impressive wool production processes in the world. Specialists in merino wool, Zegna Baruffa’s techniques have been honed across 150 years of using the highest quality materials and settling for nothing but the very best.
Merino is the king of knitwear, combining the durability of its scratchier lambswool cousin with the luxury and sumptuous handle of cashmere. And if merino wool is the king of knitwear, Zegna Baruffa is the royal palace. It remains the only place that sees the entire merino production process happening in Italy, from fibre to yarn.
There’s an interpretation that espouses the notion that charm, in its truest sense, should never fully reveal itself on first impression. Milan might be the city that most clearly captures that interpretation.
Famously, it’s an industrial city. And when it comes to architecture, it’s certainly no Florence. But that doesn’t mean it lacks charm, it’s just a little bit less obvious. Certainly, a huge part of the city’s appeal—in our experience— is what it offers beyond the initial impression of its industrial façade.
Shopping & Culture.
Shopping and culture are synonymous in Milan. So deeply engrained is the influence of Milan’s luxury fashion houses that the industry has become a part of the fabric of the city. The whole scene there has a different complexion to what you see in London; more timeless, less transient. More double-breasted overcoats, fewer camouflage supercars.
Beyond the compulsory wander down Via Monte Napoleone, we recommend a stop at Biggi Milano for the very best in Milanese tie making, Rivalto 1883 for the most elegant handmade shoes, and the cavernous duomo for ecclesiastical intrigue.
Food & Drink.
In the hierarchy of Italian restaurants, there are three typical tiers: osteria, trattoria, and ristorante, in ascending order of formality. Milan has plenty of all three. Unless refinement is your thing, you don’t need to look further than the humble osteria.
It was opportune timing that a Milanese couple came into our shop the weekend before our trip. On their recommendation, we went to Osteria La Carbanaia. Almost indistinguishable from the road, it’s not a place you just stumble across. The primi (artichoke pasta), secondi (t-bone steak), and red wine (Morellino di Scansano) were glorious. Nestled into a corner table surrounded by immaculately dressed Italians, it was a rare eating experience.
Before you go, we’d endorse a quick pit stop at Camparino in the shadow of the duomo. There you’ll find delicious negronis— classic or sbagliato—in their spiritual home and waiters who take their craft very seriously. Exactly what you want from the Italian experience.
If you get the chance to take a trip to Milan, snap it up. You might be surprised at how much the city has to offer.