Vico Milano. A family history intertwining Bali, Tuscany and Lombardy

In a site that was once a factory producing Legnano racing bikes, before becoming the showroom for the Baccheschi-Berti family’s brand

Vico Milano in Via Tortona

A short stroll away from the city’s Duomo and the fashion district of Via Tortona, Vico Milano – a boutique-style hotel in Corso Genova 11 – opened in September. Positioned as a home away from home, the uber-chic seven-bedroom hotel is aiming at providing intimate experiences for its guests. Neri Baccheschi-Berti envisioned the hotel. His family is behind the award-winning Castello di Vicarello, in Tuscany.

The site of Vico Milano was once a factory that produced Legnano racing bikes, before becoming the showroom for the Baccheschi-Berti family’s fashion brand. «It’s in the center of Milano with the right size». Berti’s initial thought was to create a co-working space. «But after staying at the property and feeling the space, we realized building a boutique-style hotel would be the best idea», says the hotelier.

A former industrial neighborhood characterized with monolithic warehouses and square, Via Tortona, is now home to international headliners such as Milan Fashion Week, Milano Design Week, Salone del Mobile, along with MUDEC – Milan’s Museum of Culture, and the original HQ’s of fashion royalty Diesel, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Armani.

Traditional osterias and revived craft studios sitting alongside contemporary art spaces, cult cinemas, and restaurants. A sense of community has fostered a blend of old and new. Zona Tortona’s industrial spaces and entrepreneurial spirit make it an inspiring place to catch Milan at its most experimental. The district also exhibits a buzzing nightlife with streets populated with designer hotels, bars and bistros. 

Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany

The family’s connection with Milan is deep-rooted. During the eighties, Berti’s parents were living between Bali and Milano, working in fashion, textiles and furniture. Vico Milano is the younger sibling of the mothership Castello di Vicarello. The name ‘Vico’ itself comes from Vicarello, and is also a namesake of their wine label ‘Terre di Vico’. Having over twenty-five years of experience in running the show, the Berti family has carved a niche for themselves. Aiming at transporting the Tuscan castle experience and work culture to the Milanese boutique property, Berti has got on board the ex-GM of Vicarello for his new venture. 

Castello di Vicarello was born in 2012, the brainchild of Carlo and Aurora Baccheschi-Berti. The secluded twelfth-century medieval castle, recognized for its grandeur and bespoke experiences, speaks for the family’s prowess in hospitality. The honey-colored buildings of the castle are home to nine luxury suites. The rooms are curated with hand-picked design elements interpreting the spirit of each bedroom. Home-style cuisine is prepared in the castle’s historic kitchen, which draws much of its produce from the organic garden, vineyards, and olive groves, all of which sit within the castle’s grounds.

The property features two infinity pools, a spa, and manicured gardens lingering with the scent of ornamental blossoms. The hotel conducts gastronomic activities such as cooking classes and wine-tasting on a regular basis. «We will be sourcing wine, olive oil, preserves, and cured game meats from Castello di Vicarello for Vico Milano», shares Berti.

Vico Milano, view of the bathroom in which tiles on the floor and on the walls represent a fundamental aspect of the interior design

Neri Baccheschi-Berti background

Berti grew up in an environment stimulated with hospitality and design, but joining the family business was not his first choice. After pursuing finance in Milan, he went on to work in Hong Kong, London, and then Zürich for five years. «After some time, I figured I was burning out and lacking passion for what I was doing. During that time, I decided to go on a sabbatical, and took a flight to Sri Lanka, in 2015». 

The financial analyst-turned-hotelier embarked on his journey to the tropical island to find suitable land and develop a hospitality property. Soon after his arrival, things went south: «I had a bike accident in Sri Lanka and I had to fly back to Italy with thee months on the wheelchair». During the recovery period, Berti stayed at Vicarello, finding himself absorbed in the day-to-day functioning of his family business. «This is when I started to fall in love with hospitality. There are many opportunities to express, create, and develop projects unlike the banking world». 

Take-away and delivery options at Vico Milano

Hospitality runs in the blood for the Berti family, and Vico Milano is an attempt to take forward the family legacy. The guesthouse is in two floors. The ground floor is utilized as a living room with sofas, chairs, and tables, for lounging and dining. «Due to the intimate structure of the boutique hotels, people tend to spend a lot of time in the common areas», says Berti. You can also find the hotel’s speakeasy-style bar on this floor, mixing up classic tipples and finger foods for the patrons. The ground floor also hosts a functional gym. 

Opening a restaurant at the property is not on the cards for Berti. «Take-away and delivery options are becoming common in Milan. Even the likes of Michelin star hotels are now delivering. We don’t see a point in opening a restaurant at this point», he explains. The guests can order a meal from their preferred restaurant in Milan and enjoy it in the hotel’s common areas.

Lampoon review: the interior design at Vico Milano

The first floor opens up into a hall that takes you to the suites. All suites are similar in structure and will be categorized based on the size, ranging between twenty-two and forty square meters. The suites are constructed as a duplex with two levels. The ground level of the suite will have the wardrobe space and the bathroom, while the bedroom will be stationed at the upper level. The renovation works for the hotel took over two years and are still ongoing. 

Berti’s family has a penchant for interior design. At Vico Milano, attention to detail characterizes the design. Overseeing every aspect of the design, Neri has drawn on influences that have inspired him throughout his life and travels. He has hand-picked an assortment of antiques and artifacts – primarily Italian yet complemented by selected pieces from around the world.

International influences at Vico Milano

A green marble wall marks the lobby, sourced from Tinos during a trip to Greece, that Berti made with his architect, Giuseppe Alito. «When you think of green marble in Italy, you think of Guatemala. But it is flat and basic», says Berti. The green marble wall marks the beginning of the bar on the ground floor. Wooden sticks make the front of the bar, while the countertops feature Marmo di Carrara. A brass structure is installed on top of the bar to facilitate the suspension of glassware and bartending tools.

Berti sourced handmade tiles from Fez in Morocco. «I asked the artisans to cook the tiles in the oven at different stages so they obtain several shades of the same color rendering a textured 3D effect on the walls», explains Berti. The Moroccan tiles will be displayed on the walls of the bathrooms of the hotel through different colors. Handcrafted carpets sourced from Iran also characterize the hotel. «I love design. Every time I go over the budget I don’t feel bad. We endeavor to procure only high-quality materials», underlines Berti. 

The library at the hotel will function as a melting pot of cultures and art, showcasing books about Italian history and food, vintage collections, rare and limited edition books, independent magazines, coffee table books from Asia and other parts of the world. The books at the library will be curated by Berti’s cousin’s wife, an avid art collector, «I requested her to curate the library. She has an eye for literary collectibles». 

The future of hospitality

As we enter the new dawn of travel in the Covid era, personal space and authentic experiences have become virtues. Commenting on the Berti family’s style of creating intimate properties, «small properties, with fewer rooms, is the future of hospitality. Boutique concept hotels were already becoming a trend, the pandemic just gave it a boost». Pre-Covid, the majority of the clientele at Castello di Vicarello had been Americans.

Owing to the pandemic restrictions, the hotel group this time has chosen to target European customers. «Perhaps when the pandemic is over, we will be stronger, since the principal international market will be back on track, and on top of that we will also have the option to explore the domestic market, that we have developed in the past two years», adds Berti.

Vico Milano

Corso Genova 11, 20123 Milan

Vico Milan is a boutique-style hotel next to the center of Milan.

Chetna Chopra

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.