The Ferragamo family takes its hotel project from Florence and Rome to Milanunder the name of Retrato Milano.
Located between Corso Venezia and neighboring Via Sant’Andrea, in the Golden Triangle luxury shopping district, and tucked behind a richly decorated 17th-century door bearing the Latin word “humilitas,” as in the family’s coat of arms Borromeo, the majestic 30,140-square-meter building The two-meter building is the size of Piazza San Babila and has a storied history of more than 500 years that embeds a large part of the city’s past.
After some years of working behind the scenes and long negotiations with Milanmunicipality of , the local curia and the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage, the hidden landmark, which was first built in 1564, is becoming a hot spot for hospitality and Retail sale destiny.
In 2013, Leonardo Ferragmo and Valeriano Antonioli, president and CEO, respectively, of Ferragamo’s hotel business, Lungarno Collection, were looking for the right place in Milan to bring their formula of portraits of Rome and Florence to Italy’s fashion capital.
“I felt like a kid unwrapping Christmas presents,” Antonioli says of his first visit to the site. The doorman had said that the estate was neither for sale nor for rent, so it was unlikely to fit in with the hospitality and Retail sale project, until things changed.
The Ferragamos teased the project in 2018, but were silent on the details until the renovation was nearing completion in October, when fashion people spotted it since the luxury brand Ferragamo’s show took place. on the square, and the building only required some finishing touches before it opened at the end of November.
Former archiepiscopal seminary until 2002, but also over the centuries library, prison and hospital, in the 80s it housed the workshop of the famous architect Mario Bellini, who met Apple’s Steve Jobs at the landmark in 1981 to talk about the Design of products.
All of that and more resonates in the renovation spearheaded by architect Michele De Lucchi. He revived the historical beauty of the building by exalting the different layers added over the centuries, from the 16th century colonnade to the Baroque-era portal designed by the architect Francesco Maria Richini and the exterior facades, whose renovation in 1967 was at charge of Piero Portaluppi.
“It is an ambitious and complex project that we have been working on for several years. I am extremely proud to have the opportunity to add a new important chapter to this 500-year history”, says Leonardo Ferragamo. “It is about giving it back to the city of Milan… with the goal and ambition of turning it into an open place, so that everyone, the citizens and everyone who loves the city, can enjoy it.”
The space combines shops and a hotel, a luxury spa and an open-air plaza and corridor set up for a selfie shoot and reconfiguring the topography of the district.
“Whenever I drew this place, I always drew groups of people crossing the square to enjoy contemporary life in an ancient place,” De Lucchi says. “It will connect all the [luxury] fashionable shopping district with a new square”, adds the architect.
Antonioli explains that the name Portrait refers to the “ambition to offer and interpret representations of the cities in which we are located together with the portraits of the Italian and international clients who enjoy the space”, since the project is at the crossroads of culture, hospitality, fashion, art and experiences.
The luxury hotel Portrait Milano is the jewel in the crown of the Lungarno Collection. The three-story hotel will have 73 rooms, including 20 suites. On the first floor, each room opens onto the columned hallway, where the hotel will set up private outdoor living spaces.
Renovated by the hotel group’s leading architect, Michele Bönan, the hotel’s interior is inspired by mid-century design, a favorite of millennials, with light walnut wainscoting, rattan paneling, hardwood floors of larch, as well as nods to Italian know-how. and stylish, with leather handles and the color palette of greens and reds often seen in Milan apartments.
“Designing a hotel is a lot like shooting a movie. First you need to digest the sense of the project, create a script and work hard on every detail”, says Bonan. “The first time I entered the space I was moved by the energy and tranquility of this place, I could already see this empty landmark animated by visitors.”
The north wing will feature connecting rooms for families and business people traveling together, while casual and fine-dining restaurants will be set up on the ground floor. Executive Chef Alberto Quadrio, a student of the late restaurateur Gualtiero Marchesi, is ready to offer his vision of Italy’s culinary tradition, conviviality, and coming together.
The Ferragamos are clearly looking to tap into the well-heeled visitors who have flocked to the city since last spring in a post-pandemic travel rush, whether American or Middle Eastern.
The project plans to offer personalized programs for them to enjoy the city, blending with Milan’s tourism strategy aimed at attracting high-spending visitors and exceeding the current average length of stay for tourists of 2.15 days.
Without a doubt, Milan is having a second renaissance.
After the Expo-powered shakeup in 2015, the 2026 Winter Olympics are increasing the city’s appeal, and many hospitality groups took noteof Casa Cipriani, which inaugurated its members club before this fall, to V Maison and Vico Milano, luxury boutique hotels that have trended in the past 12 months, as well as the revamped Park Hyatt.
Portrait Milano will employ around 300 people trained through the three-year in-house training programme.
When it comes to retail and entertainment, Portrait Milano is abuzz.
Taking control of the entire west wing of the courtyard, Milan retail savvy Antonia Giacinti is opening the second Antonia outpost in the city with about 8,000 square feet of retail space.
The concept store is set up to offer a mix of established designers and new names for men and women, as well as offering five rotating branded concept stores and a dedicated sneaker space.
Giacinti describes him as a source of inspiration for the fashion community. “He is about to become the ring of talents, discoveries and emotions. It is a place where our goal is to nurture new ideas and projects, where even established [fashion] brands can express nuances that they normally cannot express through their flagship products.”
“Even though everyone else is moving somewhere else, outside of Italy, we’ve always been in the city, Milan is our other place,” he says.
And it is not the only one that bets on Milan.
Riccardo Giraudi, founder and CEO of the Giraudi Group, will finally bring his Beefbar restaurant to Milan, while Ferragamo’s daughter Maria Sole’s jewelery brand, So-le Studio, will open its first retail unit inside Portrait Milano.
“Beefbar is an Italian ‘brand’ that never really set foot in the country,” says Giraudi. “It will be a bespoke experience, tailored to the identity of the place… when I first visited, I told myself that I had to open a unit here.”
The restaurant and cocktail bar, which nods to the ’50s, will take over the landmark’s east wing, building on the successful beef formula used at its 20 other locations around the world, including Paris, Tulum, Dubai, Mykonos and Hong Kong.
Executive chef Thierry Paludetto conceived a personalized menu that takes into account the culinary tradition of the city, seasoned with an international touch, combining the high and the low, the local and the global. Think gyoza meatballs and Mexican quesadillas filled with Kobe beef, tuna and veal tartare, and signature tenderloins with a side of mashed potatoes.
It is also a homecoming for Maria Sole Ferragamo.
She lived abroad and returned to the city two years ago, finding it changed and full of energy. “She Evolved in my absence…no other place could receive my first flagship,” says the creative.
He enlisted Milan-based design firm Fondamenta, led by Francesca Beatrice Gagliardi and Federico Rossi, who translated the organic feel of Ferragamo jewelry into a unique store concept.
A modular wooden skeleton adjoining the walls of the space is draped in fabric, trimmed and sliced to reveal pieces of jewelry. It was developed by Cometa’s Contrada degli Artigiani carpentry, a socially conscious company that supports underprivileged children.
Marking the store’s debut, Ferragamo presents a dedicated capsule collection comprising new jewelery and a handbag, a new category for So-le Studio.
Opening in the spring, The Longevity Suite biohacking and antiage city clinic will complement Portrait’s offering by setting up a spa in the basement. It is scheduled to open in the spring of 2023 and offer exclusive treatments that combine detoxification, meditation and cryotherapy.