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Impeccable Italy: Villa Roma Imperiale and Grand Hotel Minerva

Impeccable Italy: Villa Roma Imperiale and Grand Hotel Minerva - Forbes


Impeccable Italy: Villa Roma Imperiale and Grand Hotel Minerva

If I were lazy, I would lead by calling Forte dei Marmi the Hamptons of Tuscany. It’s beachfront, south of Cinque Terre and north of Florence. It’s popular with elites from Milan and Rome, as well as with the Russians who have lately been buying up property. The array of high-luxury boutiques is dazzling. There are go-to-spots for happy hour and late night, and a stretch of increasingly posh beach clubs.

I guess I did just begin with the Hamptons comparison (though with its proudly worn retro-’80s style, it also calls to mind Cannes for me). Forgive me. I may be feeling lazy because I’m in the frame of mind I was in during my stay at Villa Imperiale Roma, a charming small hotel near the center of town. It excels in the art of languidity. 

It is the sort of place to linger over a second cappuccino in the breakfast room, to curl up with a book in one of the many lounges and reading rooms, or to sunbathe by the pool. The decor of the 31 rooms and public areas is white and elemental, with touches of beach-chic blue and elements imported from Southeast Asia.

For all its (old and new) wealth, Forte dei Marmi still has a certain down-to-earth charm. The primary means of transport is bicycles—the hotel rents them in various sizes—and you should expect to get sand in your shoes (if you’re even wearing shoes), while lunching at the chic beach restaurants. A standout is Gilda, and the must-order dish is spaghetti with minuscule, flavorful arselle claims, sometimes harvested from the water right outside the restaurants.

The family that owns Villa Roma Imperiale made their wealth with an import/export business. After years of family vacations in Forte dei Marmi, they decided to own a part of it. And so, they turned a local house (not their own) into a hotel.

They also own the Grand Hotel Minerva, an understated gem on Santa Maria Novella square in Florence. (Disclosure: I stayed at both as their guest.) Parts of the building date from the 13th century—a few of the suites have frescoes or wooden beamed ceilings from that era—but it had its first heyday as a hotel in 1869.

It fell into disrepair for a while and was resurrected in the 1950s. At the time, many new owners were demolishing historic buildings and starting over. The then-owners had a different idea, keeping the façade and some of the historical details inside, while hiring one of the most important Italian architects of that decade, Carlo Scarpa, along with town planner Edoardo Detti. Many of their midcentury furnishings remain to this day.

Art has been a big part of the hotel since the beginning. Now the collection includes original 19th-century works, 1950s and ’60s pieces, and the owners’ personal collection. They brought in contemporary Italian artists to create installations in the 97 rooms and suites. Some push the boundaries pretty far. I’m not sure how I felt about the Pop Art/Andy Warhol/jigsaw puzzle thing going on beneath my 13th century ceiling, but I can’t accuse them of playing it safe.

That’s their idea: to get guests to engage with the art and culture. “The experience of Florence shouldn’t end when you come into the hotel,” says Sara Maestrelli, the third-generation manager, noting that people generally visit Florence for these things. “There is still more art and design and beauty.”

There are also resort-style amenities, such as an outdoor dining area, a rooftop pool and terrace, an indoor bar, a fitness center with a view of the square, a courtyard garden and a stunning caldarium, a hot room with a plunge pool. The restaurant is worth a visit, as chef Tommaso Calonaci already has been recognized by Gambero Rosso, which the hotel’s marketing director views as the local equivalent of a Michelin star.

His clever vegetarian tasting menu in a refined dining room is a welcome counterpoint to Tuscan beef and those delicate little clams on the beach.

Design made in Italy: 200 anni di eleganza a tavola, con Broggi - Sky Arte

The New Room With a View: Florence’s Grand Hotel Minerva - The Daily Beast



The New Room With a View: Florence’s Grand Hotel Minerva

Exquisitely balancing influences both ancient and modern, the Grand Hotel Minerva offers travelers luxury respite and esthetic pleasure.

It was the most fortuitous of interior design circumstances. First, a world in which hotels, shops, and restaurants are clamoring to create facsimile Mid-century Modern vibes to align with current tastes. Second, a storied Italian hotel preparing to spend millions on a restoration timed to its 150th anniversary. And buried underneath misguided '90s era decor was work by Carlo Scarpa—one of Italy's (and the world's) most prominent modern architects.

Such is the luck of the recently reopened Grand Hotel Minerva in Florence, Italy, which thanks to its chic overhaul is the fourth selection for our twice-monthly series on gorgeous new or restored hotels, The New Room With a View.

The hotel is housed in a building dating back to the 1300's and has long been a favorite for visitors to the legendary Tuscan city. The original hotel opened in 1869 as the Locanda della Minerva, and has remained popular throughout the 150 years in large part because it's a stone's throw from the main train station, Santa Maria Novella. (But it also has the benefit of the Santa Maria Novella church, with its treasure trove of art, providing a buffer between the hotel and train station messiness).

When the owners decided to renovate the 97 room hotel, they hired Piera Tempesti Benelli, who has done a masterful job of fusing the building's historic bones, Scarpa's genius, and her own touches.


The other piece the hotel has long been known for is its rooftop pool with its views of the iconic Duomo. Mention that you're staying at the Minerva, and anybody who has gone before will immediately gush about the pool. For those who focus on these additions, the hotel also has a gym and spa.


Without a doubt the biggest showstopper in the hotel, for us, was the breakfast room. A vision of black and white alternating tile juxtaposed against pale blue polished plaster columns and a glass curtain that looks onto the central garden, it's undoubtedly interior-decorating porn worth starting your day with while sitting in restored chairs designed by Scarpa.


Benelli certainly had a field day with the rooms, playing with different strong colored fabrics and matching marble accents in the bathrooms. One gorgeous detail is that each of the room doors are covered in Florentine leather with an engraved Minerva. The furniture in public rooms is a mix of new, Scarpa restorations, and pieces bought at auction from a noble family. Then there are special rooms. A couple have, um, circular beds. One suite has the beautifully restored ceiling frescoes from the original building. Another has the original hand-painting wood ceiling beams.

Le Cinque Terrazze Più Belle di Firenze per l'Aperitivo



Le 5 terrazze più belle di Firenze per l'aperitivo
I migliori locali con terrazza dai panorami mozzafiato nella città culla del Rinascimento da non perdere.

Federico Minghi - 25 Luglio 2019

Se volete godervi a Firenze uno dei “quadri rinascimentali” più belli al mondo, dopo una calda giornata di lavoro o se state cercando una location romantica, queste sono le cinque terrazze da non perdere per vivere un momento di piacere ed emozionarsi godendosi tramonti da sogno sulla Cupola del Brunelleschi.

Tra i tanti affacci che in estate permettono di gustare un buon cocktail ve ne propongo cinque davvero spettacolari, situati in hotel esclusivi frequentati da clientela internazionale dove poter sorseggiare ottimi aperitivi godendosi il miglior Skyline di Firenze. Vedute che offrono emozioni, scorci unici che ammaliano e riconciliano con la vita: dall'imponente cupola del Brunelleschi all'affascinante Piazzale Michelangelo fino al glorioso Palazzo Vecchio da cui ammirare splendidi e romantici tramonti e dove le colline circostanti riflettendosi nel fiume Arno creano un quadro unico al mondo.

Three-Sixty Rooftop Pool Bar del Grand Hotel Minerva

Non siamo al sesto piano ma al “Settimo Cielo!”. La terrazza scenografica con piscina riscaldata a 28° è un lusso per l’anima. Situata in uno storico hotel dal passato glorioso che affonda nel Medioevo (l'edificio era sede di una confraternita fiorentina chiamata Compagnia dell'Arcangelo Gabriele ed era legata al vicino convento di Santa Maria Novella) la location è fantastica per un aperitivo chic con tuffo in piscina ammirando una delle viste più belle del mondo che vi toglierà il respiro. Da qui vi sembrerà di toccare la splendida facciata della Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella ed anche se solamente per una breve sosta resterà una esperienza memorabile e uno dei ricordi più piacevoli di Firenze. 

Grand Hotel Minerva 

Sentirsi Protagonisti

A century and a half of Grand Hotel Minerva - The Florentine

A century and a half of Grand Hotel Minerva

150 years of heritage and hospitality

The Florentine has always had a soft spot for Grand Hotel Minerva. On hazy summer evenings, the striking lettering on the white frontage calls to our team across piazza Santa Maria Novella, extending an invitation of lazy aperitivi on the iconic rooftop. Now, the luxury hotel is gearing up to celebrate its 150th anniversary.


The historic landmark, overlooking the basilica of Santa Maria Novella and affording unforgettable views of the Duomo, has just completed a multimillion dollar renovation of its 97 rooms and suites, as well as the communal areas, which takes guests on a design-driven visual journey through the hotel’s past, while readying it for the next generation.

The building began life as housing for the monks of Santa Maria Novella and afterwards as a home to several noble Florentine families, before becoming Locanda della Minerva, a travellers’ inn, in 1869. In the early twentieth century, the tavern was turned into a hotel and in the 1950s two innovative Italian architects, Edoardo Detti and Carlo Scarpa, transformed the premises into the Grand Hotel Minerva. Scarpa was a pioneer in balancing new and old, revealing the history of the original building, something the owners have achieved again today. The Maestro, as he was known, deconstructed and transformed the hotel structure, leaving only a few rooms unaltered, with beautiful frescoes and original hand-painted ancient wooden beams, which still exist today. While transforming the hotel, Scarpa created design details that would become a symbol of Italian modernist architecture for years to come.

In anticipation of the 150th anniversary, the family hired local architect Piera Tempesti Benellito enhance the hotel’s heritage by valorizing Scarpa’s original art, iconic furniture and landmark structures. Over a century’s worth of imperfections can be seen throughout the Grand Hotel Minerva resulting from redesigns over the years. In the reception area, ceiling markings by the wooden beams and lintels denote separate rooms built over different eras. Instead of hiding them, Benelli chose to emphasize these flaws by using strategically placed lighting.

Original elements crafted by Scarpa and repurposed today include The Breakfast Room, whose geometric black-and-white marble floor contrasts with the new addition of pale blue polished plaster walls hung with artworks by Giuseppe Chiari, and The Bar, whose focal feature is the old front desk counter emblazoned with the hotel’s logo lined with Scarpa’s original bar stools.

In the reappointed lobby, a coffee table designed by Scarpa acts as the centerpiece of a sitting area, flanked by the grand piano and sand-colored velvet couches, while the steps up to the rooftop pool, which Scarpa and Detti famously built in the 1950s, have been restored to their former glory. Many of the antiques, bought at auction in the late Seventies, originally came from Prince Demidoff’s Florentine mansion, where they symbolized the family’s opulence at the time. The hotel displays them today as an expression of a bygone era and to convey a different sense of luxury from that of the surrounding modern furniture. The remaining furniture, designed by Benelli and manufactured by local craftspeople, aims to be a bridge between consecutive generations of objects.

With an unparalleled rooftop pool and terrace, indoor green spaces and outdoor terraces, Grand Hotel Minerva is a contemporary urban resort just steps from the city’s most iconic attractions. Exploring Florence’s historic past, while enjoying everything the city now offer, begins—and ends (with those lazy evening drinks we so love)—at Grand Hotel Minerva.

Grand Hotel Minerva in Florence - "Great rooftop pool and rooms" - The Rooftop Guide



We spent 1 night and 2 days at this amazing hotel. A time filled with pool hangout, magnificent rooms and a breakfast to die for. Grand Hotel Minerva is a famous, luxurious and classic hotel in Florence.

Located right at Piazza Santa Maria Novella in the central parts of the city. Every detail in this hotel is thought off. The classic décor goes very well with the luxurious feeling. Check out our review here!


On the seventh floor you’ll find the swimming pool area and rooftop bar. When stepping out of the elevator you’ll see the bar counter right in front of your eyes, to the left the rooftop bar and to the right the pool area.

On the pool deck there are several sun loungers to relax in. The swimming pool is rectangular and one side of the pool there’s a Jacuzzi function available. It’s not super big, but what it lacks in size, it wins in view.

Sweeping views over the Florence skyline, surrounding hills and historical monuments. So beautiful!


On the other side of the terrace you’ll find the rooftop bar with views to the other direction. This view is more unusual of Florence, but still very beautiful.

Up here you find a simple décor and some lounge sofas and tables to hang out at. Perfect place for an Aperitivo or afternoon cocktail.


The best thing for us was the amazing rooms. WOW! Super high ceiling and with views over the piazza. To be able to open the balcony doors with a height of over 3 meters and look out over the buzzing streets below was great.

Perfect if you like to enjoy a bottle of prosecco before heading out to the streets.

If the rooms were good, the breakfast was equally great. Fresh, delicious and with many things to choose from. Just like a hotel breakfast should be like. The coffee was amazing as well. Just the way the Italians like it. We let the pictures speak for themselves.

It would have been the ultimate breakfast if it was served in a room with a view or on the roof terrace. Unfortunately, they serve the breakfast on the first floor, so you can’t enjoy the city view while indulging in all deliciousness. Otherwise, perfect!



If you like rooftop swimming pools and luxurious hotels, Grand Hotel Minerva is one of the best places to visit in Florence. You won’t be disappointed. The service, view, rooms, breakfast, rooftop and environment were all top notch.


Cena ottocentesca per festeggiare i 150 anni del Grand Hotel Minerva - La Nazione

Cena ottocentesca per festeggiare i 150 anni del Grand Hotel Minerva - La Nazione


Cena ottocentesca per festeggiare i 150 anni del Grand Hotel Minerva - La Nazione

Firenze, 7 giugno 2019 - Era il 1869 quando in piazza Santa Maria Novella aprì la locanda della Minerva all’interno di un edificio che affonda le sue radici nel Medioevo. Con gli anni lo locanda si è trasformata nel Grand Hotel Minerva, super albergo da cui sono passati personaggi come Ungaretti, Zeffirelli e Tognazzi. Ieri sera, party esclusivo per soffiare sulle prime 150 candeline dell’hotel, che per l’occasione ha inaugurato ufficialmente la spettacolare terrazza con piscina, che col suo cocktail bar resterà aperta fino a settembre per offrire serate dalla vista mozzafiato a tutti quelli che vorranno regalarsi un sogno. A fare gli onori di casa, Sara Maestrelli. «Per noi un bellissimo traguardo - ha detto -. Il nostro hotel è un piccolo museo modernista. Perchè a nostro avviso per chi viene a Firenze l’esperienza artistica deve essere a 360 gradi». Tra gli ospiti, il neo assessore alla cultura Tommaso Sacchi. E dopo la scoperta dei sedici nuovi cocktail, tra cui il Milk Punch 1869, la serata è proseguita con una cena di gala dal menù retrò. Lo chef Tommaso Calonaci ha infatti rivisitato alcune ricette di 150 anni fa. Voilà dunque la carabaccia di cipolle, i ravioli ripieni di ricotta e strigoli, il Cibreo di pollo in omaggio all’Artusi e il colombaccio in tegame con sugo.

Florence Revisited - The Epoch Times

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