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.
The President is a good four-star hotel, housed in a modern building not far from the historical centre of Lecce. It is – deservedly – popular with the groups who travel from far and wide to visit this beautiful city in Puglia. The hotel’s bedrooms are large and its public areas are spacious. Members of staff are helpful and friendly and the food of the Executive Chef, Cosimo Simmini, is enjoyable. Moreover, the President has a splendid General Manager, Giuseppe Mariano – pictured, with your correspondent. Mr Mariano also manages the five-star Risorgimento Resort (see separate article).
Since the visit was made on which this article is based, the Masseria Torre Maizza has become part of the Rocco Forte Collection, and a programme of alterations has begun.
From the tower of this charming masseria, folk used to watch the coast for signs of unwelcome visitors. At the first threat of a Saracen raid, the monks would take refuge within its walls and pray that the danger would pass. Nowadays the monks have gone and the only ‘dangers’ are those which might be caused by a little over-indulgence within its luxurious interiors. With its verdant setting, pristine white buildings, excellent staff and delicious food, the Masseria Torre Maizza is acknowledged as one of the finest hotels in Puglia.
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See also Dining in France