Built to a design by architect Andrea Piazza, the hotel was inaugurated on 23 May 1863. In just a few years it became the hub of the city’s business and diplomatic affairs. Located just a few minutes’ walk from La Scala, it has also played host to a number of notable figures from the world of music and opera: Giuseppe Verdi, who died in the hotel in 1901 (the Don Carlos restaurant, which is dedicated to the great composer, has opera-inspired decor); Enrico Caruso, who recorded the first gramophone record in one of the hotel’s apartments in 1902; and Maria Callas, who stayed here between 1950 and 1952. After the Second World War, the architect Giovanni Muzio oversaw a project to restore the building, which had suffered damage in the bombing raids of 1943. The remains of the 3rd-century city walls can still be seen in the cellar.