Grand Hotel et de Milan

You don't really advertise a hotel with the death of a prominent resident, but in this case it was Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi who passed away here in 1901. This throws, after all, a light on the type of clientele one can expect here (NO!, They are not all dead!). The Grand Hotel is a stone's throw away from the famous Scala, the Milanese opera house. Famous singers, conducters and - well - composers are a normal sight at the lobby of this charming relict of the 19th century.

Please also read  "Mourby of Milan" 


The Albergo di Milano was inaugurated on May 23 1863, a Saturday. The building of eclectic style with neo gothic features, which were all the rage at the time, was smaller than at the present.


150 YEARS of HISTORY A century and a half of Milanese history seen through the eyes of the most prestigious guests of its oldest hotel.
The ”Albergo di Milano”, today called the Grand Hotel et de Milan, was inaugurated on Saturday 23rd May 1863. The project was in the hands of the architect Andrea Pizzala, known mainly for having designed the Galleria De Cristoforis in 1831, in Milan. The building was smaller than it is now. A building with an eclectic style whose façade and ornaments have many references to the neo-gothic repertoire. These cultured references were taken from works published in those years and inspired by the English Romantic Movement: what is commonly referred to as the “Gothic Revival”.
The building was extended on several occasions and a new floor was added in 1879. Towards the end of the 19th century, the hotel acquired significant importance as it was the only hotel in Milan to offer postal and telegraph services. For this reason the hotel was often used by diplomats and businessmen. The hotel had approximately two hundred rooms, a "Stigler" hydraulic lift (recovered during the recent renovation work and still currently in use), a small winter garden and lavishly furnished dining rooms.
Among the most prestigious guests of the Grand Hotel et de Milan, we can mention the Maestro Giuseppe Verdi who decided to stay here from 1872, alternating his business life in the city with the relaxing ambience of his country home in Sant’Agata. In those years, Verdi spent a long time working on “Othello” and then “Falstaff”. For Verdi, the “Milan” hotel was in a strategic location: just a stone's throw from La Scala opera house and opposite Via Bigli, where a good friend of his used to live, Countess Clara Maffei. At that time, the Countess was distraught by the death of her only daughter and she resumed her social life only after the launch of a cultural salon in her house. Thanks to the Countess's salon, which was attended by people like Manzoni, Cattaneo, Correnti, Manara, Balzac and Rossini, Verdi, who was tormented by the death of his wife and children, managed to find new inspiration which eventually led him to his “Nabucco” triumph.
As was customary for successful theatre events, after the first “Othello” performance, the carriage that was taking Verdi back to the “Milan” (as the Grand Hotel et de Milan was then affectionately called) was detached from its horses and drawn by the people of Milan. Once Verdi got to his hotel room, people gathered under the balcony of his room and started to call out his name. The maestro came to the window with the tenor Tamagno who sang some of the arias of the opera to the delirious crowd.
1Just as many people waited outside the “Milan” during the time when Verdi was seriously ill. Two or three times a day, the Director affixed notes about the Maestro’s condition on the wall near the entrance to the hotel. Straw was scattered on Via Manzoni to cushion the noise made by carriages and horses so as not to disturb the Maestro as he lay dying.
On the afternoon of 30th April 1888, the owner of the hotel, Mr. Spatz, and his entire staff welcomed their Majesties Emperor Dom Pedro II of Braganza and Empress Theresa Christina of Bourbon. For the occasion, Spatz had the royal apartments redecorated along with the entrance and staircase of the hotel. The entire hotel was surrounded by a lush tropical garden.
During his stay, the Emperor fell seriously ill with pleurisy. His return to Brazil was postponed in order to enable his daughter, Donna Isabella, to sign the famous and criticised law that abolished slavery in Brazil. To celebrate this event, Spatz commissioned an allegorical statue depicting a feathered Indian that “kills the slavery snakes”. The statue is still kept in the hotel entrance.
In April 1902 the great tenor Enrico Caruso, who was in Milan to sing at La Scala Opera House in a new opera directed by Toscanini called “Germania”, arrived at the hotel. Fred Gaisberg, a pioneer of phonographic recording at the “Gramophone Company”, was enthused by Caruso's voice but the Gramophone Company, whose intention was to record an album, pulled out after being informed that Caruso requested £100 pounds for agreeing to record. At that point, Gaisberg decided to sponsor him personally. The recording of the first flat LP in the history of music thus took place in an apartment of the Grand Hotel et de Milan. Caruso, standing before a metallic funnel which was separated from a strange recording device by a wall, sang ten opera arias. The recording took two hours. In the end, Caruso cashed his £100 pounds and went for lunch. Gaisberg had a great idea when he decided to sponsor the man who then became one of the most famous tenors in the world.
And so now on to the 1920s. One of the most extraordinary guests was Tamara de Lempicka, “femme fatale” painter and a true daughter of the Crazy Years. The beautiful Polish painter was invited to the “Milan” by the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio. It seems that the poet was in love with her and would have liked her to paint his portrait at the Vittoriale. In the apartment dedicated to her, there are some letters that testify to the intense correspondence between Tamara and Gabriele.
The Grand Hotel et de Milan was completely renovated in 1931 and equipped with bathrooms with modern fittings, running water and a telephone in every room. Its glamorous American Bar was frequented by high society. The restaurant, already the most talked about in the city, boasted a refined cuisine and impeccable service. In 1943, following a terrible bombing (which also hit La Scala), the entire fourth floor was destroyed. Subsequently, the Military Staff of the 5th American Brigade took charge of the hotel. The “Milan” became a place for holiday rewards for ally soldiers. At some point, the hotel even had its own "Military Chief". Parties, balls and concerts were held in the luxurious and exclusive “restaurant”.
On 24th June 1946, the hotel finally found peace. Once again, the “Milan” resurrected itself from the ashes by keeping its prestige intact. The work started by architect Giovanni Muzio (main representative of the Modern Movement) immediately after the war to restore the oldest and most prestigious Milan hotel was long and hard. Maria Meneghini Callas often stayed at the Grand Hotel et de Milan between 1950 and 1952 when attending performances at La Scala. She and Meneghini, her first husband, could argue for hours in reception in front of their open security box over the choice of jewels to wear.
In 1969, with the new management, the entrepreneurial Manlio Bertazzoni decided that it was time to revamp the main hall and the other hotel reception rooms to give a more lively touch to the 1940s furniture. The presence of his daughter Daniela and her partner, the fashion photographer Rocco Mancino, made the “Milan” a reference point for photographers, models, designers, artists and all the “beautiful world” that moved around them. It became a set for photo shoots and fashion shows.
2For the first time ever, the hotel was used as a place to display as yet unknown fashion designers. During fashion week, it wasn't difficult to meet young fashion designers who had set up their own showrooms in the most unusual places for that time. Every corner of the hotel was used for this purpose: the hall, the bedrooms, the cloakrooms on the ground floor and even the old Stigler lift — then out of order and stuck on the ground floor — were all used to display the most varied fashion accessories.
A period Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, with a uniformed chauffeur, was parked in front of the hotel entrance waiting to take hotel guests wherever they wanted to. The “Milan” had become a fun and fashionable hotel. The beginning of the 1970s saw the boom of the Italian “prêt à porter”. On this occasion, the hotel opened officially to the fashion world. Ferré and his producer Mattioli used the hotel for their first défilé. Many others were “baptised” here before becoming real fashion stars.
This was the beginning of the high life with concert-tea events at 5 o'clock, Scaligeri cocktails on 7th December and Great Galas on New Year’s Eve.
The “Milan” was always a sort of “Annexe” to La Scala. One of its habitual guests, Severino Gazzelloni, a famous flautist nick-named the “Golden Flute”, used to rehearse here quietly in the early afternoon. Many rooms were connecting, even though with double locked doors. The Maestro heard a knocking sound. He thought he was making too much noise and came down an octave. He heard a knocking sound again so he turned the volume of his music down even more, making it almost imperceptible. At that point, a woman’s soft voice begged him to play louder so that she could enjoy the beautiful sound from the privacy of her room.
Vittorio De Sica was another habitual guest. In 1974, for a shot of his film “Il Viaggio” (in which he starred with Sophia Loren), he staged a bedroom in the living room of what was once Verdi's apartment. The alcove was occupied by Richard Burton and the young Annabella Incontrera. Often, you could meet Burton in the bar lounges where he sipped a glass of vodka.
During the most recent important renovation work carried out between 1990 and 1993, part of the great defence wall built in 250 A.D. by Emperor Maximian was brought to light. This represents an important feature for Milan's defence, symbol and border of the city. The core of the structure is made of a conglomerate of shingles and brick fragments bound together by a very strong grout. Today, the carefully restored remains of this wall can be seen on the way down from the Don Carlos restaurant to its wine cellar. The ruins are placed at the centre of the room and are surrounded by very prestigious Italian and international wines.
The important renovation work has enabled some of the lost architecture that had been erased by previous renovation work to come to light, such as the granite pillars in the bar and main hall and the old lift. The careful restoration work on the monumental parts and the functional and technological upgrading work performed to meet regulations and standards have returned the Grand Hotel et de Milan to its original splendour by preserving intact the old charm of the 19th century aristocratic Milan residence.

The Queen of Sweden, the Queen of Belgium, various personalities in the world of politics and the showbusiness Verdi, Caruso Duse, Dom Pedro II, Callas Nurejev, Strehler D'Annuncio...
Emperor of Brasil, Dom Pedro de Braganza abdicated in favour of daughter while staying with us. Giuseppe Verdi wrote the Otello end the Falstaff in the suite nowadays dedicated to him.
87/8 Rooms
Giuseppe Verdi Suite, Enrico Caruso, Dom Pedro II de Braganza, Maria Callas, Rudolf Nureyev, Medardo Rosso, Eleonora Duse, Tamara de Lempicka,Giorgio Strehler, Gabriele D'Annunzio,
CARUSO Restaurant (breakfast and lunch only) summer terrace DON CARLOS Restaurant awarded two forks by Gambero Rosso, Executive Chef Edoardo Ferrera, Bar Falstaff
A dinner at the Don Carlos Restaurant and a visit to the "Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci
Fitness Club
100pax, 3 breakout rooms
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Our Select Member Hotel

Grand Hotel et de Milan
Country: Italy
City: Milan
Opening date: 23 May 1863

Note from the Host

General Manager Antonio Cailotto
Hotel Manager: Marco Soli
Concierge: Walter Milia


Via Manzoni 29
20121 Italy, Milan

Tel: +39 02723141
Fax: +3902 86460861

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