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Jan 21, 2013

My Idea of a Lovely Hotel – The Hotel Palazzo Guadagni in Florence

A room with a view… This is what I would like to share with you this week: a room with a view which I had fantasized about for years before discovering it, at long last.

When I first came to Florence at the age of 18, one of my Italian admirers – yes, I had a few and I sort of enjoyed it! – happened to be a teacher at a language school which was particularly well-situated: right on the Piazza Santo Spirito, one of the city’s most beautiful squares.

This school was located in a palazzo, an imposing renaissance building with an elegant loggia on the top floor. The whole of this top floor was occupied by the Pensione Sorelle Bandini, a small cosy hotel that never failed to sweep me into the mood and gist of “A Room with A View”, the excellent novel by E.M. Foster which James Ivory turned into a film in 1985.

Each time I would come to meet my friend at the gate of the school after his working hours, I’d systematically gaze up at the pensione and feel terribly nostalgic for a period which, for some obscure reason, I had always been fascinated with. I could picture myself staying in one of the rooms up there at the turn of the 20th century, blithely mingling in the loggia with an eclectic gaggle of friends.

But guess what: I never did stay there until… a few months ago!

As you can imagine, my heart was pounding when I first walked into “my” room. Probably one of the simplest rooms of the hotel – because I had booked late, – but it suited me perfectly. Clean and quite spacious, it had just been repainted in mauve, and had some nice antique furnishings: a large bed, a chest of drawers, a table and a few chairs. The bathroom had recently been redone and decorated in authentic Italian style, with the tiles painted in a colourful motif. Even the bathtub, made of lovely old-fashioned enamel instead of cheap fiberglass, was a nice surprise.

And when, at last, I opened wide the large window at the end of the room, there was the “view” of my youthful dreams: a magnificent, breathtaking view on the Palazzo Pitti and over Florence’s timeless essence.

The next day, I woke up at 8:30 am to the bells of Santo Spirito, with the sun-god and the heavenly music of birds pouring into my room. A few minutes later, I was having breakfast on the famous loggia, this time not looking up but looking down at the bustling market below. It was sheer bliss.

Today, the Pensione is called Hotel Palazzo Guadagni. It has been beautifully restored and refurbished without losing any of its original charm and magic. Here is the link to their website: Hotel Palazzo Guadagni.

If you ever stay there, let me know!

Katharina's Italy