If Florence is a wise teacher, Naples a glitzy showgirl and Rome a romantic lover, then Milan is a devoted mama. She offers everything — high-­fashion clothing, elegant northern Italian food and luxurious digs for shelter — without asking for anything in return. “Milan says, I’m ready to give you whatever you need, discreetly, in a very soft way, without being too aggressive or imposing,” explains Vincenzo Finizzola, general manager of the Four Seasons Milano since its opening in April 1993.

Four Seasons Milan

118 rooms, Rates: E610 to E9,460, ($910 to $14,190)

As unassuming and yet as grand as mama and Milan itself, the Four Seasons Milano, which was converted from a 15th-­century convent to a hotel, stands as a crossroads linking the city’s rich history with modern conveniences and style. Located on Via Gesù, the hotel is in the heart of Milan’s fashion district, within walking distance of many fabulous boutiques and restaurants as well as most of the city’s banks, insurance companies and law firms.

At the hotel, guests are invited to wander around an authentic cloister garden replete with white arches, lush greenery and flowers and wooden benches that call people to meditation. The winding curves of the spiral staircase, a work of art that takes guests from the basement to the fourth floor, look like a rose when viewed from above. With the muted shades of original 15th-­century frescoes dancing above their heads in select suites as they drift to sleep, guests might believe they are spending the night in heaven.

Although most of the hotel is understated and true to its origins as a convent, the all-­marble ­bathrooms — with deep tubs and heated floors — are decadently luxurious. These marble masterpieces are to a Milanese hotel room what a classic accessory, such as a black leather belt, is to a Milanese couture outfit. They complete the look.

From the ­terra-­cotta-­colored walls in the deluxe rooms to the blue-, peach- and yellow-inlaid ceilings in the executive suites, color is fused to bring guests to life. Fortuny fabrics, Frette linens and pear and sycamore burl cabinetry remind visitors they are in Italy’s fashion capital, where style is as important as function.

Still, even in Milan, a hotel ­can’t survive on looks alone. There must be something beyond the pretty face. “What we like to say in our hotel is that the real luxury is ser­vice,” says Finizzola. “You can have a beautiful product, you can have a beautiful location, you can have everything — but if you don’t have the right service, all the rest is almost nothing.”