Bel­le Époque

AD (Italy) - - Case. - words pho­tos ELE­NA DALLORSO – MASSIMO LI­STRI

THANKS TO A PAINSTAKING AND COSTLY RENOVATION TO RECREATE ITS TIMELESS GLA­MOUR, THE ST. RE­GIS ROME IS BACK, REINTERPRETING CLASSICISM THROUGH LIGHTS AND COLORS. The fir­st pu­blic ball­room in Rome was in the Grand Hotel, whi­ch Mon­sieur Cé­sar Ri­tz ope­ned on 11 Ja­nua­ry 1894, brin­ging a trend to Ita­ly from the ma­jor Eu­ro­pean ca­pi­tals: that of sump­tuous ho­tels rea­dy to wel­co­me the fir­st wa­ve of tou­rists and lo­cal high society. The fa­ci­li­ty was designed by the Ro­man ar­chi­tect Giu­lio Po­de­sti, and fea­tu­red fre­scos by Ma­rio Spi­net­ti sho­wing eight sce­nes of ru­ral li­fe and my­tho­lo­gy. It has ta­ken six mon­ths for Pier­re-Yves Rochon, in char­ge of the re­sto­ra­tion of the hotel that has been kno­wn as the St. Re­gis Rome for twen­ty years, to reo­pen the Sa­lo­ne Ri­tz to guests. «Re­sto­ra­tion is com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent from crea­ting a new pro­ject. You ha­ve to work wi­th what al­rea­dy exists. Espe­cial­ly in a pro­tec­ted he­ri­ta­ge space li­ke the Ball­room, where my con­tri­bu­tion was li­mi­ted to the lighting and the fa­brics», the in­te­rior de­si­gner ex­plains. Abo­ve all in the lob­by, the ex­ten­si­ve renovation has sim­ply re­vea­led the ori­gi­nal charm. «When I saw the hotel for the fir­st ti­me I thought: the­re is so­me­thing wrong wi­th the lay­out», Rochon says. The pla­ce see­med dark and du­sty, but at the sa­me ti­me its real lu­xu­ry was a mat­ter of space. «The fir­st im­pres­sion is the en­tran­ce, and then you want to know where is the re­cep­tion, the lob­by, how to get to your room», he ex­plains. Con­ser­ving the en­tran­ce, Rochon has eli­mi­na­ted the dou­ble doors and cor­ri­dor lea­ding to the loun­ge. «In the lob­by, af­ter al­te­ra­tions ma­de in the 1980s, the­re we­re dif­fe­rent le­vels for di­ning, break­fa­st and drinks, ma­king li­fe dif­fi­cult for the staff and bloc­king the view. I ha­ve tried to go back to the past, when the lob­by was ac­tual­ly a cour­tyard». To­day it is li­ke a lar­ge piaz­za where peo­ple meet and watch others, wi­th an ac­cent on cir­cu­la­tion. Un­der a gi­gan­tic Mu­ra­no glass chan­de­lier, the space is bor­de­red by co­lumns and ar­ches wi­th com­pli­ca­ted hand­ma­de de­co­ra­tions. The Loun­ge & Bar, to the left, is a con­vi­vial zo­ne fea­tu­ring a fi­re­pla­ce clad in black mar­ble. Mar­ble, bron­ze and tra­ver­ti­ne are the se­lec­ted ma­te­rials. The colors pay ho­ma­ge to the Ro­man tradition – black, gold, silver, ter­ra­cot­ta, Pom­peii red, but al­so blue wi­th a tou­ch of yel­low, «whi­ch is not cold, and not even Ro­man, but links back to the ori­gi­nal in­ten­tions of Cé­sar Ri­tz», the al­lu­re of ho­tels in Pa­ris and London at the turn of the cen­tu­ry. The 138 gue­strooms ha­ve been re­fur­bi­shed wi­th custom pieces. The 23 sui­tes ha­ve been con­ser­va­ti­ve­ly re­sto­red, in­clu­ding the Bot­te­ga Ve­ne­ta sui­te, part of the hotel sin­ce 2007, now re­de­si­gned using items from the Ho­me Col­lec­tion of the brand.

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