Just a stone’s throw from the city centre and the main fashion boutiques, looking out over the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio, sits Portrait Firenze, the hotel part of the Lungarno Collection, owned by the Ferragamo family. The exclusive “residence” pays homage to the city of Florence and paints a portrait of it at a very special time – the Fabulous Fifties – a time that saw the birth of Italian high fashion precisely in this area of the city.
Guests at Portrait Firenze will feel almost like they’re drifting off to sleep on the romantic banks of the river; they can admire the hills that surround the city like a decorative ribbon from the windows and it will seem like they can reach out and touch the Ponte Vecchio with their hand. They can also count on the support of a close-knit and knowledgeable team, all of whom are available to offer their services at any time and, above all, do so with extraordinary consideration.
When guests make a reservation, they are asked to fill in a questionnaire with their preferences: type of room, pillow, food and any allergies, etc. so that a precise profile of the guests can be built up and every demand and every request can be arranged in advance. It’s just like when you arrive at the house of dear friends that you haven’t seen for a long time, who have gone to the trouble of making sure you have everything you could possibly need, so that you feel happy and, most importantly, at your ease.
The stars of Portrait Firenze are its iconic photos: six floors of them in the suites and in public areas, where the city’s golden period from the Fifties to the Sixties is brought back to life, when Italian high fashion took off and international celebrities started arriving. There are personalities from the world of theatre and showbusiness of the time, like Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Zeffirelli, Anna Magnani, Vittorio Gassman and Sophia Loren; from royal families, from King Baudouin of Belgium, to the Dukes of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco; and from the budding world of fashion, like Giambattista Giorgini and the first designers who took part in the fashion shows in the Sala Bianca, Roberto Capucci, Simonetta Visconti and Emilio Schubert. Complementing the views over the city are images of Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens and the Florentine theatres – La Pergola and Il Comunale. Of course there are also photos of Salvatore Ferragamo, his daughter Fiamma Ferragamo, and some of the designers he has had dealings with, from Christian Dior, who Salvatore Ferragamo worked with on many projects, to Elsa Schiaparelli, who put on shows in Florence, as well as his favourite VIP clients. There are cinema stars immortalized walking along the banks of the Arno – Tyrone Power with his wife, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and two extraordinary photos of Madame Lanvin who discovered her favourite colour in Florence, after seeing the blue of the lapis lazuli in Florentine frescoes, which she named Lanvin blue.
This photographic journey was made possible thanks to the contribution of Nina Screti, the art historian who, with her versatile experience in the field of image – working for years in fashion first with Carla Sozzani and then in the LVMH group – scoured no less than four photo archives over a period of many months. The very important Alinari, Giorgini, Locchi and Torrini archives were so intrigued by the project that they did not hesitate to open their doors and devote whole months of research to this extraordinary project.
If the rooms recount Florence during the 50’s, in the common areas these photos take color portraying the excellence of Florentine artistry of today and tomorrow.
The art installation by Felice Limosani on the 6th Floor entitled “REMEMBER AND IMAGINE”, fully represents this spirit: he is a craftsman of light, known around the world for having interpreted various fashion brands through light representations. Felice has created a digital kaleidoscope for Portrait Florence, providing a new look to the beautiful geometrical marble floor of the Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo in Florence, a great example of craftsmanship during the 500.
On the ground floor of the residence, at number 2P in Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, there is the Caffè dell’Oro Italian bistrò. Open from 7.30 a.m. to midnight, the Caffè dell’Oro offers an all-day dining service with everything from breakfast to lunch to aperitifs and dinner, at all times of the day.
Its name derives from Florence’s famous tradition in working gold – as can be seen in the name of the adjoining Vicolo dell’Oro – which flourished in the 14th century and continued to grow until the beginning of the 19th century, a time when the Lungarno Acciaiuoli and the Ponte Vecchio were the favourite destinations of international travellers who would visit the silk shops and goldsmiths looking for superbly created jewellery. Just like today, in days gone by it was the international tourist destination par excellence.
There is seating for 45 people, in a setting that exudes a glamorous and chic Fifties look. Thanks once again to the creativity of the architect Michele Bonan, the welcoming atmosphere is exquisitely Italian, with simply designed furniture and dark tones lit up by the natural lighting throughout the day.