Firenze, I write with a sigh. Florence has been on my mind again and again this year. And initially, I attributed my knee-jerk sigh (which first started as a groan) to shrewd marketing resulting magazine editorials and “top ten in the world” lists. As I started visiting the city over the past six month, a day trip here, and over night trip there, what I realize is that I am definitely sighing in happiness. I walk around the City of Lilies, and I see a steadfastly resolution to maintaining its identity borne from the tenements of its Medici heyday while incorporating the 21st century in its way of life. I easily sense a palpable pride its 500-year-history of artisans, shown through active investment in its modern artists and artisans, something that needs to be replicated in other Italian cities.
For Condè Nast Traveler (April 2018), I met up with Laudomia Pucci, daughter of famed designer Emilio Pucci, and Olga Polizzi, Director of Design for Rocco Forte Hotels, about their collaboration on the new look to the historic Hotel Savoy, an investment of creative and Florentine artisans. Enjoy the story and scroll through for my brief review on Hotel Savoy.
Florence’s Hotel Savoy is back—and you can’t miss it. Following a six-month closure, the famed hotel has reopened its doors today, with a rebooted look that plays on its century-long history as the Grand Dame of Florence’s Piazza della Repubblica. Even better: They teamed up with Emilio Pucci Design for the newly over-the-top main entrance, a first for the storied fashion house.
“It always starts with a scarf,” says Laudomia Pucci, Emilio Pucci’s daughter and image director of the Florentine fashion house known for brilliantly patterned and colorful designs.
Here’s how the story begins. Pucci imagined a new scarf, with the images of both the Hotel Savoy and Piazza Della Repubblica while The Savoy’s Director of Design, Olga Polizzi, handled the architectural aspects of restoring the grand lobby to bring back the original grandeur of the entrance with raised ceilings and exposed columns. Then Polizzi washed it in an entirely white palette, giving Pucci the freedom to accent the space with vivid Mediterranean colors—a medley of blues, blacks, and even a dash of pink woven through custom furniture pieces, pillows, and a handmade statement carpet. “The colors always tell a story with a narrative of design,” Pucci says.
While the lobby is more grand than ever before, the reboot is also a tale of a dramatic downsizing. The hotel’s room count was reduced from 102 to 80, giving Polizzi the freedom to reconfigure four Grand View suites, each of which is a stunner of a #RoomWithAView.
The new Presidential Suite, a palatial top-floor ensemble of light colors and marbles, hand-painted dendritic wallpaper, handcrafted furnishings from Italian brands (including Chelini Firenze and C&C Milano), and curious vintage knick knacks that Polizzi handpicked at Florence’s Mercato dei Pulci. And then there’s the Panoramic suite, a duplex pied-à-terre, that sits eye-level to Brunelleschi’s dome.
“The Savoy is reflection of the personality of the city,” says Polizzi. “Florence is fun—she’s the whimsical, naughty, younger sister of Rome.”
As for that Pucci scarf that started the story, its image is now printed—in blue and fuchsia—on the tabletops of Irene, the Savoy’s terrace cafe on Piazza della Repubblica, which is the place for people watching in the city. So while the new lobby and new suites are grand, that’s where we’ll be enjoying the view this spring.
Hotel Savoy is a great luxury hotel for those who want to be in the very center of everything, desire white glove pampering and love old school grandeur. The price tag is high but it is worth it for its location, and only if your wallet can handle it. On the corner of Piazza della Repubblica, across from my favorite Caffe Gilli, and a two-minute walk to the Duomo and the Grand Museo del Duomo, Hotel Savoy has got an enviable geo-tag. In five minutes, you can walk to Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza della Signoria, and Baslica of San Lorenzo whereas in 15 minutes (depending on the direction) you’ll see David at the Accademia and Fra Angelico at San Marco museum, enjoy the Santa Croce neighborhood and the Sant’Ambrogio market, and peruse the artisan boutiques the Oltrarno neighborhood. You’ll have to add more minutes walking for Piazzale Michelangelo and Boboli Gardens.
The hotel vibe is chic as soon as you walk in the door, and more so with Polizzi/Pucci reboot. Though this is an old school grand hotel, the vibe is intimate and rooms feel homey, as in the stylish home you would love to own. The upgrade means more spacious rooms and lighter colors. And though there is no spa, the basement is home to a lounge/sitting room and a brand new multi-space gym- four room enfilade with hardwood floors, light colors and great Techno gym workout machines. One of the rooms is a designated open space for personal training and yoga sessions.
Bottom line: Old school grandeur just got a contemporary reboot while maintaining true to its impeccable, century-long hospitality.