The Grand Hotel Baglioni ‘dates back to the second half of the 1800s when Prince Carrega di Lucedio, taking
advantage of works to widen what today is Via Panzani, bought a series of small
hovels which he then demolished. In their place he built an imposing mansion
which over the main door had the crest depicting a leopard on a red and gold background
of the Carrega-Bertolini family, which still can be seen above the door today.
After a dozen or so years, having decided to move his residence to Rome, the
Prince decided to turn the palace into an hotel, taking advantage of its central position and its closeness to the railway station, with a farsightedness worthy of a true businessman.
And so he asked the Baglioni family to turn his 19th-century palace into an up-market hotel without removing from the facade any of the architectonic features that made
it so striking. And so the large ceremonial staircase, which the Prince used
to climb having left his carriage at the main door, was preserved, while the old
stables and courtyards became the large rooms of the Congress Centre.
On 12th August 1903 Palazzo Carrega, now a hotel with 64 rooms, 106 beds and 18 bathrooms, was opened as the Grand Hotel Baglioni and ready to welcome guests.
Of course things did not stop there and many improvements were added down the
years, according to progress and to the needs of the times, and as neighbouring
houses were purchased the building acquired its characteristic internal layout.
It is not an easy thing to recount the hundred years of a hotel ’s history, but there are two periods which are particularly worth mentioning
as they were two moments during which the hotel, not of its own volition, had
to close: during WWII and after the terrible 1966 flood.
On August1944, the Hotel Baglioni was occupied by partisans of the Arno Division who were trying to oust the last
snipers left in the city by shooting from the hotel’s terrace, while a room on
the ground floor was set up as a special courtroom. After a few days, on 13th
August, the allied troops freed Florence and at the start of September the hotel
was taken over by the New Zealand Forces Club. The New Zelanders had been forced
by circumstances to forget the formalities of civilian life, and after the German
raids, the allied destruction left only the Hotel Baglioni’s walls standing. After months of intense restoration on 1st June 1946 the Hotel
Baglioni once again opened its doors to welcome guests.
The 1966 flood was no less a tragedy for the hotel. In a few short minutes it found itself totally isolated with the water rising
above the porter’s lodge, the salons, the manager’s office with the safes, the
kitchens and the storerooms.
It closed once again for restoration. Most of the work consisted in saving what
was possible from the water and from the heating oil that had seeped out of the
destroyed heating system. The floors and walls had to be dried out centimetre
by centimetre, the plasterwork redone up to the level the water had reached, furniture
and upholstery restored and the machinery had to be taken apart, piece by piece,
dried and put into lubricants. But in spite of all these efforts, it took
some years for the damp to be completely vanquished. However after a month and
a half, in a city which was slowly pulling itself together after the tragedy,
the first guests once again stepped over the famous compass at the entrance to
the Hotel Baglioni.