Florence’s Grand Hotel Minerva Celebrates 150 Years With Multi-Million Euro RenovationAuthor:Michelle Konstantinovsky
If an Italian getaway is in your summer plans, consider making it an anniversary trip. As Florence’s Grand Hotel Minerva commemorates 150 years of business, the family-owned and operated luxury property welcomes guests from all over the globe to admire its multi-million Euro renovation.
Located in the heart of the city on the expansive Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Grand Hotel Minerva overlooks the historic church of the same name and the iconic Duomo. All 97 rooms and suites, as well as public areas, have been revamped to take guests on a design-led visual journey through the hotel’s historic past.
The property was originally constructed as housing for the Monks of Santa Maria Novella and then served as a home to various noble Florentine families, before becoming an Inn for travelers to Florence in 1869. Known as the Locanda della Minerva, the Inn transformed into a hotel in the early 1900s, and by the ’50s had reinvented itself again as the Grand Hotel Minerva.
Two important Italian architects were at the heart of the hotel’s midcentury rebirth: Edoardo Detti and “Maestro” Carlo Scarpa, who is perhaps best known for his thoughtful balance of incorporating new elements while retaining historic details. Scarpa deconstructed and transformed the hotel structure, leaving just a few rooms unaltered, with frescoes and original hand-painted ancient wooden beams that are still in place today.
In anticipation of the hotel’s 150th anniversary, the family hired local architect Piera Tempesti Benelli to enhance the heritage of the hotel, utilizing an existing trove of art, furniture, and Scarpa’s structures to transform the space again. The main goal throughout the renovation was to restore and enhance every piece discovered to have a historic value and to seamlessly blend it with the new spaces being created. Over a century’s worth of “scars” are visible throughout the hotel (take the reception area’s ceiling marking for example); rather than hide them, Benelli chose to highlight the imperfections using strategically placed lighting, framing them to become decorations unto themselves.
Benelli was committed to restoring and paying homage to Scarpa’s original work, which is evident in nearly every corner of the space. The breakfast room’s pale blue venetian polished plaster contrasts with the black and white floors and restored Scarpa’s original chairs while the bar features an old front desk counter that Benelli has recreated as a long marble slab emblazoned with the hotel’s logo on it it, while restoring Scarpa’s original bar stools. An original coffee table designed by Scarpa now acts as the centerpiece of a sitting area in the lobby next to the grand piano joined by newly added sand colored velvet couches. The original staircase to the rooftop swimming pool has also been restored, and an original fireplace from an old room upstairs was moved into one of the lobby living rooms with two big Frau armchairs placed in front of it.
Benelli also created new space obtained through the demolition of suspended ceilings and plastered walls created in the 1990s. The connection between the grand Piazza and the hotel was reopened by creating a spacious front desk area at the entrance of the hotel with big windows facing the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Benelli used all natural materials such as stone, marble, steel, copper, bronze, brass, and wood, complimented by fabrics like velvet and leather.
To learn more about Grand Hotel Minerva or to book a reservation, visit grandhotelminerva.com