Milan is a wonderful city, and the Carlton Hotel Balglioni is a wonderful hotel. It is easy to love Milan. There is the magnificent Gothic Cathedral and an abundance of art and architecture – which includes one of the mankind’s finest paintings, Leonardo’s Last Supper. And there is more: the town’s obsession with clothes. For most Italians, dressing well is a daily routine. But for the Milanese it is a lifelong passion. I do not always share their taste, but I have to recognize that a Milanese without style is a contradiction in terms. Indeed, many of the town’s inhabitants are deeply involved in the business of buying and selling some of the most desirable garments in the world. And the epicentre of this activity is the famous Via della Spiga. Here are to be found the emporia whose names make the ladies (and not a few gentlemen) swoon. And here, too, is the splendid Carlton Baglioni.
Hidden away, a few steps from the tourist trail, in the pretty jewel of a town which is Ostuni, is an oasis of cool chic called La Sommità. Ostuni is known as ‘the White City’, and much paint and hard work is expended each year in ensuring that it is worthy of its title. Buildings in this ancient and albino place are pristine, and the 16th Century residence which has been converted into an hotel and restaurant is no exception. La Sommità is a marvel: an air-conditioned retreat of luxury and good taste. Its restaurant has a Michelin star and its fifteen rooms (all air-conditioned, of course) are sought out by those who want to enjoy their history in comfort and style.
If you would like to eat ultra-modern food in an ultra-modern setting in the great city of Milan, you should head for the via Manzoni. There you will find the Armani Hotel. This temple of modernity has, on its top floor, a restaurant which has attracted a Michelin star. And it has attracted me. For this is a place which has caused even the most determined reactionaries – and I am of their number – to put aside our aversion to modernity and enjoy its remarkable pleasures.
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See also Dining in France