Past and Present
"At Accademia del Savini, there are two sessions a day, if not three: breakfast, 'vermouth' time, and after theatre closing time," was the view of Sabatino Lopez, theatre critic and novelist.
"Savini's is Milan just as the Galleria and La Scala are Milan," wrote Carlo Castellaneta.
"I've never eaten so well," was the comment signed by the great Charlie Chaplin. And in the beginning it was Virgilio. Virgilio Savini was born in Cuvio (Varese) in 1852 to a modest family, which he soon left when he moved to Milan.
In 1881, during the Belle Époque, he acquired the innovative Stocker Beerhouse in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a concert café complete with orchestra and dancers that was already a popular spot for Milan's journalists, scholars and other important figures. Virgilio Savini gave the beerhouse a more personal touch and transformed it into something more elegant, a blend of café and restaurant. Thus Savini's was born in 1884.
Because of its location close to the Manzoni theatre, it was a popular meeting place for both artists and scholars –the salon of art and culture that Emilio Praga and Milan's other Scapigliati called their Mount Parnassus.
Right from the turn of the century, Savini's was a popular meeting place for celebrities from the world of art and culture, from Giuseppe Verdi to Giacomo Puccini, from Pietro Mascagni to Arturo Toscanini, and from Eleonora Duse to Sacha Guitry. Not to mention Arrigo Boito, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Giovanni Verga, Mosè Bianchi, Luigi Capuana, Emilio Praga, and even Tommaso Marinetti, the father of Futurism, who organized a banquet of Futurist cuisine and then said to Remo Mannoni, "It was our Ernani night, even though for the occasion we had to do without my yellow risotto, cutting-edge cuisine of such unspeakable astuteness that even Montaigne envied us."
Since its rebirth in the 1950s, an endless list of other greats wandered Savini's corridors and crowded its dining halls, names such as Maria Callas, Luchino Visconti, Charlie Chaplin, Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and Grace Kelly, Erich Maria Remarque, Lana Turner, Jean Gabin, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Carla Fracci, Henry Ford, Totò, and Peppino de Filippo. Eugenio Montale once said, "A passion for perfection always comes too late. At times, a hundred years is not enough for certain undertakings, but it always manifests itself as a passion for poetry. Here I have found such a passion for fine dining."
In 2008, Savini's was taken over by the Gatto family, who redesigned its various spaces, creating a gourmet restaurant on the second floor, a bistro café and patisserie on the ground floor, and a food boutique on the underground level, where visitors will find a selection of over 500 specialist products of Italian cuisine, all bearing the Savini brand.
But the redesign left intact the ambience and charm of the history that made Savini's a multifaceted locale suited to the constantly changing needs of its clientele, all in respect of its past because, while fashions come and go, style is eternal.