When the Ferragamo family was looking for the perfect location in Milan for the latest addition to its hotel group, it went hunting in what it calls “high heel territory” – that is, a location where the stylish ladies who will stay there can walk to all the fashion district hotspots in their high heels.
Now, the Florence-based group, the Lungarno Collection, is set to open the third hotel under its Portrait brand in the former Archieposcopal Seminary at 11 Corso Venezia (main picture and below). It is Europe’s oldest seminary, only the second in the world, built in 1564. The building has a baroque entrance designed in 1652 by Francesco Maria Richini, which opens onto an imposing 3000 square-metre piazza framed by a double colonnaded loggia.
In addition to the Portrait Milano hotel, the huge building will host restaurants, a shopping arcade and an event space, making it a major lifestyle hub in the heart of Milan’s lifestyle district. Lungarno Collection group CEO Valeriano Antonioli says it will be an honour to return the building to the city in all its glory, strengthening its close historical ties. Architect Michele De Lucchi’s Studio MDL practice was commissioned for the restoration work.
“Although it closed at the beginning of the 21st century, the seminary in Corso Venezia is an architectural jewel in our urban fabric which very few people know about,” he says. “It is set to become a major destination for any visit to Milan not least for the architectural value of the colonnade and the Renaissance perfection of its proportions.”
Every Portrait hotel is decorated in a style that is both luxurious and elegantly restrained, embodying an important story about the Ferragamo family’s connection to the city in which they are located. Leonardo Ferragamo, president of the Lungarno Collection, says, “The Portrait Roma recounts the sweet life and glamour of the dolce vita, years in which my father Salvatore Ferragamo lived. Portrait Firenze tells the story of the incredible years which saw the birth of Italian haute couture and its launch in the world from Florence. The portrait of a city and the lifestyle during this era are recounted through a photo reportage collected from the four most important archives in the city, framed by Portrait Firenze.
“[With Portrait Milano] we have the opportunity to bring into an exceptional place, considered an ever more central city in the world, the Portrait format. From here, we will tell our guests the extraordinary qualities of this city through the paths of many excellent men who, with great energies, have made Milan what we see today.”
Antonioli describes the experience of staying at a Portrait hotel as the haute couture of travel, renowned for creating “transformational experiences” for guests. The hotels are staffed with dual teams –Italians with in-depth local knowledge (guests can visit while the Pope is praying in private), and international staff who can make travellers from all around the world feel at home.
The group also regularly sends its staff to the city’s best restaurants, museums and exhibitions, so they can make personal recommendations on not only where guests should eat, but the best tables and most delicious dishes to choose once they arrive.
The Lungarno Collection group owns four hotels in Florence and one in Rome, including the famed grand dame Hotel Lungarno on the River Arno, recently revived with a €14 million (£12.55) restoration.
Portrait Milano (www.lungarnocollection.com) will open in the autumn of 2020.