Michelin stars are a recent delicious add to five star hotels in Italy. In contrast to other countries in Europe, up to a few years ago and with the obvious exceptions, Italians considered hotel restaurants just as an obliged option. Fortunately, things have changed to the extreme contrary, with some of the best restaurants hosted in the nicest and most elegant hotels all over the country.
In recent years, food quality has become an important issue for travellers in general, and particularly for gourmet travellers. As a consequence, hotels and relais have begun to focus a lot more on high quality cuisine in order to attract new and more attentive clients.
Italy has always been famous all over the world for its exceptional cuisine and authentic traditions. Based on this merited reputation, travellers thought that it was enough to sit at any table with a red & white checkered tablecloth to have the best spaghetti ever! The truth turns out to be very different and contemporary food-trotters now expect much more than a pizza & the tune of a mandoline.
When the Michelin star guide was published for the first time in Italy in 1956, there were no assigned stars at all, just good restaurants to stop at. The first 81 were prized with one star in 1959, and just one of them was in a guest house in Emilia Romagna. Many things have changed since then. Today Italy is the second country after France with the highest number of Michelin star restaurants: 374 in 2020. 328 are one star, 35 are two stars and 11 are three stars, of which St Hubertus is within Rosa Alpina, a mountain Leading Hotel of the World nestled in the beautiful Dolomites.
In the latest Michelin Guide, more than a hundred star-restaurants are within villas, castles, masserie and relais, from Piedmont to Sicily. Italian Master Chef Cannavacciuolo brought three stars to Villa Crespi by performing his high culinary arts, as did Antonio Guida at the Mandarin Oriental in Milan. Going West, Palazzo Venart in Venice, received a second star as an applause to young Donato Ascani’s colourful dishes and perfect service. Big news also at Hotel Cipriani, in Venice again, where Riccardo Canella just arrived directly from Noma in Copenhagen: he surely will add flavour to the inherited Michelin star al Restaurant Oro. Going South, Tuscany’s hotels are some of the best fine dining stops, at Lungarno Hotel aside the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, at Borgo San Felice among Chianti’s vineyards, where the young Colombian chef Juan Quintero creatively interprets suggestions by three Michelin star Enrico Bartolini.
The Amalfi Coast is a paradise for foodies. The choice of gourmet restaurants is particularly high. Palazzo Avino, Le Sirenuse, Il San Pietro, all have a Michelin star menu. The Capri Palace boasts two rewarded restaurants: L’olivo, with two stars, and Il Riccio, a traditional fish restaurant overlooking the Gulf, whose “spaghetti alle vongole” or the dessert room surely are a souvenir from the island. Punta Tragara has received a star for its fine dining restaurant in 2020, but it had its first reward for the trattoria Mammà, famous in the area for a perfect pizza next to the most celebrated Piazzetta.
Pizza is in fact a new trend for the exclusive Italian hotels. And again, nobody in the Bel Paese would have thought to have pizza in a resort later than a couple of years ago. Surely, Villa Cora surrounded by lush Florentine gardens was one of the first to propose poolside “pizza & champagne” in summer evenings. Now guests can also eat a crunchy pizza at L’Albereta, with Franco Pepe’s delicious recipe, considered by experts the best of Italy: the formula is Margherita + in house Bellavista among Franciacorta hills. Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello serves truly Neapolitan pizza by the resort’s iconic swimming pool, while in the amazing park around Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como a food truck bakes pizza with stringy mozzarella every evening.
Food is definitely a new challenge for high hospitality. It has indeed become the guaranteed place to taste some of the best Italian food, whether it is a creative menu by star-chefs or a traditional dish of homemade orecchiette at Il Melograno in Puglia, or an organic healthy salad with avocado and other superfood. Some hotels even have their own pastry shop, such as First Dolce in the historical centre of Rome, where anybody can order a take away “maritozzo” just filled of fresh whipped cream, or sit and order an Italian style afternoon tea with a refined herbal mix and butter cookies. A stop at Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville is even more Italian. On the ground floor there is a public entrance: just get in to order an “espresso” for 1.50 €, standing at the bar as in any other cafeteria in Rome, or stop for a business lunch with ham & cheese tramezzino. If guests need more privacy, they have their dedicated lounges and an excellent room service and can enjoy a “pasta alla Norma” by Fulvio Pierangelini, who chose to make only traditional dishes at their best.