Enter the enchanting world of Hotel Principe and have Florence at your feet. “We hope that guests feel like they can have a slice of traditional Florentine luxury whilst having a genuinely comfy stay.”
VISUALS & WORDS: Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P
This feature is produced in collaboration with Hotel Principe Firenze
The roots of Hotel Principe take us back to the nineteenth century and recount the life of the founding family, the Bronzis. “I’m particularly proud of the fact that my grandparents made the hotel what it is from the ground upwards,” Beatrice Nisi says. “The hotel was originally quite similar to the inspiration behind ‘a room with a view’, hosting international travelers of the upper class who came together to mingle and exchange pleasantries.” The name “Principe” becomes even more meaningful when we learn that there may be a trickle of blue blood in the family’s lineage. “They say that the palazzo has close ties with the late king Vittorio Emanuele, with much of his original furnishings and fittings still hiding their secrets today. Certain parts of our accommodation, specifically the single block chiseled marble bathtub, belonged to the last royal prince of Italy.”
As soon as you walk through the door, it is clear that the place is cherished, filled with warmth, and has a lot of character. Here, every tiny detail seems to hide secrets and stories that have been sitting over time. “We take great pride in mixing our ancestral architecture with a modern vision, having strong artistic roots. It’s a joy to display our family history with guests via various antiques and decorations throughout the hotel.” From the entrance corridor composed of glass panels followed by a large ancient wooden door, you get a glimpse of the romantic garden which appears like an oasis away from the bustling crowd of the city — as if you get into another world at the end of the tunnel. “We like to hear how people find themselves in what they call the ‘Narnia’ effect.”
What sets Hotel Principe apart is the prevalent sense of family felt throughout the hotel, a value that is at the heart of the national culture. “The hotel is our home, it always has been. Ever since my parents fell in love, crossing paths for the first time on the road just outside our front doors, we have crafted the walls of this beautiful building into a home that welcomes people from all nations to stay as a family.” When you meet the team members, you feel that they are loyal, attentive, and passionate. To name them, “Hardip, Anna, Geraldine, Rodel, Jeffrey, Ferdinando, Sacha e Andrea, and Daisy [are considered to be] cousins, sisters, brothers, aunties and uncles.” As a guest, there is something comforting about running into the same familiar faces every day. Whenever you interact with them, you truly have the impression you’ve become part of their famiglia e casa.
Speaking of family, you can also be greeted by Hiro, the joyful and friendly two-year-old family dog who you may find at the main door waiting for new friends and ready to show you around — he even opens the gates on his own. “One of my favorite high moments has to be the introduction of our third family baby Hiro. [He] wakes up with the children, has breakfast, and walks them to school. We arrive at the hotel soon after. He wanders around to check that everything is in working order and presentable. Once the day is done, he snuggles down by the hearth to await another day of fun.” If you decide to travel with your four-legged companion, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover how pet-friendly Italy is, and so is Hotel Principe where you can appreciate morning walks by the riverside. “We are proud to be one of the only hotels that welcome small furry family members — dogs and cats so far!”
While the building dates from the time when Florence was the capital of Italy in the 1860-1870s, the hotel feels modernized inside, but without losing its roots. “Think Italian, classic, light.” To pay homage to the rich history of the palazzo and traditionalism of the Italian culture, while giving it a modern twist, Beatrice Nisi paired her own style with her grandmother’s legacy. “My vision is to respectfully blend the artifacts my mother and late grandmother collected during their travels with a more contemporary design. In the long run, it has been the best opportunity to create an even more welcoming vibe and helped to connect with visitors of all different backgrounds/generations. For example, we had an East Asian armoire that stood in the lounge. In a bid to lighten up the room, I had it turned into a headboard which stands proudly in one of our balcony rooms.”
Each of the twenty tasteful rooms — count 3 suites, 4 singles, and 13 doubles — is unique with a royal color scheme and authentic vintage furniture including handcrafted bed headboards. “With royalty and family at the heart of the Principe, we pair style with comfort, inspiring a regal but relaxing ambience.” We stayed two nights in October in one of their Superior rooms on the fourth floor. Upon entering, you get a jaw-dropping moment when you see the spacious private balcony spectacularly overlooking Florence’s charming riverside, the church of San Frediano in Cestello, and the hills in the background. Enjoy the view around a cup of coffee made with your hotel room espresso machine. The soft palette of powder pink and mint green adds a feeling of tranquility to the space, which may remind us of the marble tones of Florence’s Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower. The street can appear busy in the morning, but at night, you feel nothing but contentment, calm, and safety. Because we wanted to make the most of our little space which was a gem, we didn’t have the chance to visit the rooftop terrace but it does promise a terrific vista of all of Florence. “Even in the winter months, it offers calming views of bird murmurations and stunning sunsets.”
For breakfast, expect to savor a selection of hot drinks, fresh fruit juices, and Florentine products such as local filled pastries and mouth-watering dishes made on demand, ranging from Tuscan bacon and eggs to smoked salmon and avocado on toast. Their menu offers both complimentary and extra options that will be plenty of choices to delight you. Served from 7AM to 10:30AM alongside a buffet, they make sure guests are well looked after whether you decide to have breakfast in the garden, in the lounges decorated with splendid ceiling frescos and chandeliers, or from the comfort of your room to begin the day at your own pace with a view of the Arno. “Being on the riverfront means the air is clear and fresh whatever the weather. Our free-access terrace allows people to enjoy stunning views, drinks, and peaceful embraces cultivating the culture of romance and grace we aim for.”
Whether it is your first time visiting the cradle of the Renaissance or you are in town for a short period of time, the hotel is conveniently located to do most of the major site-seeing and move around the city seamlessly. “The proximity to everything is a definite point that guests often celebrate.” You can arrive by car and access the hotel’s free on-site parking, otherwise, you are a 10-minute walk from the main railway station, Santa Maria Novella, and the bus station — it’s ideal if you don’t have a car and want to be taken to the picturesque Tuscan countryside. Florence’s main monuments such as the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Galleria degli Uffizi are a stone’s throw from here. You probably heard about Piazzale Michelangelo to catch one of the best panoramic views of the city. Indeed, it is worth the climb. However, if you want to go off the beaten path and escape the crowd, go up north to Fiesole. The small Etruscan town hides several stunning points of view of Florence, especially at the golden hour. From Hotel Principe, take the bus line 7 which goes directly from Stazione Nazionale near Santa Maria Novella to Piazza Mino. So, you can just sit and enjoy getting lost in the beautiful Tuscan hills.
We left the city with fond memories of our time in Tuscany and were honored to have a taste of family life for the Bronzis. If you are looking for a place to experience the magic of Florence and appreciate the Italian culture, Hotel Principe will be your home away from home, and we heard some secret corners may be revealed soon!
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Hotel Principe, Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 34, 50123 Firenze