Once upon a time, Milan built popular housing around central courtyards, known as case di ringhiera because of the long balconies that ran the width of the building, connecting all the apartments on the same floor. One of these complexes, at Via Savona 18, is now home to a prestigious boutique hotel designed by Aldo Cibic.
Simply named after its street address, the Savona 18 Suites is located in Milan’s Navigli district, a stone’s throw from Via Tortona. It maintains the architectural features of the city’s typical popular housing from the early 20th century thanks to creative solutions by Cibic, who in the 1980s co-founded the Memphis Group with Ettore Sottsass.
Case di ringhiera are an icon in Italian culture, mentioned in “La Luna l’è una lampadina” by Enzo Jannacci and Dario Fo (“Terzo piano, quarta ringhiera, la luce è ancora accesa; / io so che sei su, Lina, ma non guardi giù, non mi vedi, / non vedi che son qui sul marciapiede / che cammino avanti e indietro, e mi fanno male i piedi, Lina, oh Lina!”; “Third floor, fourth balcony, the light is still on; / I know it’s you, Lina, but you don’t look down, you can’t see me, / you can’s see I’m here on the sidewalk / walking back and forth, my feet hurting, Lina, oh Lina!”); or Giorgio Gaber in “Porta Romana bella” (“Porta Romana bella, Porta Romana, / in un cortile largo e fatto a sassi / io fischio, / tu t’affacci alla ringhiera / poi scendi / e il pomeriggio è tutto nostro”; “Beautiful Porta Romana, / in a wide courtyard made of stones / I whistle, / you come to the balcony / then come down, / and the afternoon is all ours”); and even in a short story by Delio Tessa (“On Via Fieno we found a table, set with our usual Sunday lunch: rice, liver, roast and green salad. If there were any cherries, I put some in my napkin and went up to the balcony to eat them” – translated from “Brutte fotografie di un bel mondo”).
Here is the casa di ringhiera Aldo Cibic reinvented.