The Villa d’Este cannot be rated alongside other lodging establishments. It is in a category all by itself. Serene, majestic, noble, imperturbable – it is not of the nobility, rather it is a monarch. No, let us acknowledge the truth: the Villa d’Este is The Emperor of Hotels. That this most famous of hostelries continues to deserve such acclaim is down to those admirable folk who apply their intelligence, skill, hard work and good taste in its service. I make no apology, therefore, for bringing you a picture of these fine people. Chief among them, of course, is the General Manager, Danilo Zuchetti – seen on your correspondent’s left. Tall, charming, dapper and constantly about his property, Mr Zuchetti is the model of what the director of a true luxury hotel should be. Next to him is the Hotel Manager, Massimo Dorino, and on my right is the Executive Chef Michele Zambanini, and then next to him Gianfranci Mondelli, the Food and Beverage Operations Manager. This brilliant team ensures that the words of the late, great Jean Salvadore (who dealt with the hotel’s public relations for so many decades) remain true: the Villa d’Este is unique.
The Hotel de la Ville is the new Rocco Forte hotel in Rome. Created from three adjacent 18th Century palaces close to the top of the Spanish Steps, its luxurious interior is the work of architect Tomasso Ziffer and designer Olga Polizzi. They have taken as their theme, ‘The European Grand Tour’ and have therefore had much fun in bringing together lots of interesting and quirky objects. The result is both impressive and welcoming. I went along to try the establishment’s Mosaico Ristorante, which occupies the inner courtyard in the summer. My visit, however, was in the winter, so I was shown to an elegant chamber with a black and white floor, black pillars, a high ceiling and gilt chandeliers.
There are many reasons to visit Como. It is famous for the production of fine silk, and it also boasts a magnificent cathedral, a renowned opera house, a beautifully preserved historical centre and an important collection of modernist buildings. But, of course, what attracts most visitors is its location on the lake to which it gives its name. To stay in this charming city, you will need a charming hotel. And I have one for you, looking straight at Lake Como and within easy walking distance of all the sights. It is the Palace.
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