After a grueling trip in “Cargo” Class on Air France from LA to Paris to Zürich and then by car from Zürich to Lugano for the night and then by train to Milan, I finally arrive to my destination!
Milan is not known for its beauty, in fact, many say it’s quite ugly and dirty, specially when compared to all the other ridiculously beautiful Italian cities, but I beg to differ! Growing up in Lugano, Switzerland, just 30 minutes away from Milan, I spent a lot of weekends in this city and once you get to know it, you will find it to be one of the chicest and most fun cities in Europe.
I was amazed to find so many hotel deals in Milan when I checked Expedia.com to book a room; I guess the world recession has had a big influence on the european hospitality industry, with the exception of Switzerland of course, where you can’t even find a deal at a hostel. After checking all the new superstars like the Bulgari Hotel, the Armani Hotel and the Four Season Hotel, all sadly out of my budget, I was happy to discover that the old “Grand Dame” of Milan: the Hotel Principe di Savoia (www.hotelprincipedisavoia.com), was offering a great deal on a few rooms for the weekend, so the choice was made. Once I checked into my room I quickly realized why I got such a great deal; turns out that most of the hotel and its rooms have been newly re-designed to the nines; some rooms, however, are still the old crusty ones from the sixties, and that’s exactly what I got, with complimentary views of the air-shoot in the inner court. Even so, at 1/5 of the price of the other rooms, I gracefully succumbed to the dated, yet still very luxurious and very comfortable “Retro” room.
I did visit the new hotel across the square, Piazza della Repubblica, with the odd name: NH Milano Touring (www.nh-hotels.com), where, for just $100 a night, you can get a really nice size modern room with high ceilings, cool decor, window with a view of the square and, are you ready for this, the entire mini bar is included. Turns out that the mini bar only has a 2 waters. 2 sodas, 2 beers and a kit kat bar, even so, great place for the money and great location.
Hotel Principe di Savoia
The newly re-designed rooms at the Hotel Principe di Savoia
My room…just kidding!!!!
Being at the Principe di Savoia Hotel brings back one of my fondest memories of this city. It was in the late eighties, when I joined my “then” step-mother Joan Collins on a 3 day trip to Milan at the Principe di Savoia. She was invited as a celebrity guest to appear on a popular variety and musical show (the kind Italians love so very much and are still producing to date, even though they went out of fashion in the sixties worldwide), hosted by the italian icon: Raffaella Carra.
The day we arrived, I was beside myself to find out that we were invited to dinner by non other than Gianni Versace, who at that time, when I was a serious young fashion victim, he was my number ONE idol! My mom, who was living in Lugano at the time, came up to Milan to join us and we all went to Gianni’s Milan home in Via Gesu, for an intimate dinner with just a few of his inner circle. I remember just sitting there, staring in total admiration of this monument of global fashion, breathless with anticipation.
The day after, the plan was simple: Joan did her guest appearance, after which we were to go to a glamorous party in her honor, given by the owner of the network: Silvio Berlusconi…yes the recent president of Italy! All I know is that Gianni, who seemed to be mesmerized by Joan the night before, also invited us for another intimate dinner, this time inside the kitchen of the original Bice Restaurant (www.bicemilano.it), with Bice herself. To the horror of all the Italian high society, waiting in anticipation to meet the infamous Alexis Carrington, Joan decided to ditch the Berlusconi event, who’s drivers were outside the Principe di Savoia waiting to take us there, and escape through the back of the hotel in Gianni’s waiting car. It was a scene out of Bonnie & Clyde that unfortunately made front page news the following day!
The Gianni Versace love story continued the next day with lunch at his famous and “über” fabulous villa in lake Como, followed by a party at Donatella Versace’s Milan home in the evening in honor of Sly Stallone and a myriad of gorgeous models. That weekend changed my life: never before had I experienced such visual stimulation, filled with so much beauty and sophistication, elegance and design, art and architecture; oh…and the models too! I remained friends with the great Gianni until his untimely and tragic death in Miami.
This time around however, I am here for my sweet and beautiful friend Hannah Colman; a british beauty who has found her Italian prince charming and is about to get married in the most elegant way imaginable. When you combine the President of Jimmy Choo with the italian King of denim in marriage, you are sure to experience nothing short of perfection! This weekend wedding extravaganza started with a private dinner at Nobu at the Armani Hotel (www.noburestaurants.com) for the 200 close friends coming from abroad. Reconnecting with all my english contingent: Tamara Mellon and her guest Michael Ovitz, Tamara Beckwtih and her hubby Giorgio Veroni, the incredibly silly and adorable Waggi, the incredibly crazy Caroline and Elika, Arabella & Glen, etc…, was a great treat! Tamara Mellon & Tamara Beckwith or “T&T”, as I call them; have been my best friends since God knows when; we practically grew up together.
Robert Kass, Tamara Mellon and Michael Ovitz at Nobu
After Nobu, I was dragged by the very beautiful Caroline Stansbury to the hottest new club in Milan: Byblos (www.byblosmilano.com). The club indeed lived up to its reputation; it was packed with gorgeous, well dressed Italians with lots of attitude, who were coming up with the best lines ever, as only Italians do, to get Caroline’s attention. A flurry of invitations arrived from every table, so we just gracefully stumbled from one to the other, shamelessly flirting for a glass of “Plonk”!
The big day has arrived! The wedding party is held at the Palazzo del Senato, built in 1554; today the location of Milan’s state archives though originally founded by Cardinal Borromeo as a Swiss College…those fellow Swiss sure get around! From the moment you enter the building , you feel like stepping into another time and place; the inner courtyard was so beautifully decorated and filled with very chic people in their long gowns and black ties. The intimate dinner of 400 guest followed under a massive “Marquis” tent built in the Palazzo’s sprawling back garden. I sat with my old pals Tamara Mellon and Tamara Beckwith, along with Michael Ovitz, my favorite Italian: Giorgio Veroni; Arabella and Glen Spiro, Caroline Stansbury and Amanda Kyme. It was a true fairy tale wedding and we all danced the night away until 4am, when they stopped the music and kicked us out. No one is more deserving of a night like this than Hannah herself; so much love was in that room it was intoxicating.
Next day, off to Switzerland to see my family! Tootles…
Entrance to the Palazzo del Senato
Interior of the Palazzo del Senato
Reception area with amazing Italian Hors d’Euvres
Polenta with Baccala or Gorgonzola…divine!
Robert Kass with Tamara Beckwith
With the very silly Waggi Wags
Being serenaded by the “Gipsy Queens”