Casa Fantini, Milan, Italy
By all accounts, the low budget hotel built at the turn of the last century by the shores of Lake Orta – an hour’s drive from Milan – was fairly nondescript, but Piero Lissoni saw potential, if not in the building itself, then certainly in its waterside setting.
The decision to create Casa Fantini here was something of a no-brainer. It is, after all, a breathtakingly beautiful spot that the Milanese are understandably loathe to talk about, much less publicise.
To create the new boutique property, Lissoni fused the original building with a new low-rise sheathed in thin timber slats, and turned the perspectives of both towards the water, so that each of the 11 rooms empties its occupants outwards onto a terrace or balcony towards views of the island of San Giulio, lake, mountains, and sky.
This triumvirate of natural elements is quietly reflected in the landscaping and interiors, which are also the work of Lissoni – garden trails that lead to an outdoor lap pool are embedded with grey beola stone, a wall of blue glass in each room literally reflects the natural tableau, while a private garden overlooks Lake Orta itself.
There is, for now, no restaurant, which is as good an excuse as any to explore the area which is replete with picnic spots, hiking trails, wineries, artisanal shops, and good restaurants in Orta San Giulio.