Quietly tucked away behind piazza Santa Croce, timeworn stones pave the way to a historic palace turned luxury bed-and-breakfast: benvenuti to Peruzzi Urban Residences, opening this July.
Charismatic Dutchman Eric Veroliemeulen, general manager of Peruzzi Urban Residences and Villa Medicea di Lilliano Wine Estate, is gearing up to open the downtown palace owned by the Malenchini family.
“Peruzzi Urban Residences are set to become the new hotspot in town, where our guests can sit and relax. Our luxury accommodation will be an oasis in Florence after a busy day spent shopping and visiting this vibrant city’s museums and monuments.”
Eric Veroliemeulen, general manager
A grand wrought iron and pietra serena staircase (or the quaintest Florentine elevator) sweeps up to the five luxury suites, while a fully equipped apartment sits cozily off the courtyard. The airy reception greets guests between 8am and midday before a straightforward and secure self-check-in system takes over in the afternoon.
The urban twin of popular Villa Medicea di Lilliano in the countryside near Grassina, expect the same style set by Pondal Malenchini Studio, the Argentinian architect cousins of the owner Diletta Malenchini. All the suites, which are named after the youngest family members, feature statement Chianti red paneling and handmade Caporali cast-iron beds, while the building’s history looms in the Renaissance frescoed ceilings. “Sofia” boasts oh-so-Florentine views down via de’ Rustici as far as Forte Belvedere in the distant hills; “Eduardo”, replete with parquet flooring, looks out over the irregular piazza formed by the southern perimeter of the city’s ancient amphitheatre; Vittoria vaunts an exquisite double shower and freestanding bathtub, restful living room and bed settee for additional sleeping space.
Especially exciting for the city are the shared spaces at Peruzzi Urban Residences. A heritage-filled lounge lined with a long table is set to host talks, private dinners and wine events— the Malenchini family have been producing Chianti for over a century— as old prints depicting the four continents adorn the walls. An impressive space marked by two ancient pillars doubles as the breakfast hall for roomers and an events space (think cooking classes) because of its contemporary kitchen island.
Peruzzi Urban Residences
Piazza dei Peruzzi 4, Florence
Those of the pear
The Peruzzi family, “Quei della Pera” (Those of the Pear) as they are referred to in Dante’s Divine Comedy, were once among the wealthiest banking families in late medieval Florence. By the early 14th century they founded a trading company, with branches in London, Paris, Geneva, Venice, Constantinople and Jerusalem. The family erected numerous palaces and towers around the oddly formed piazza that now takes their name and functioned as a sort of internal courtyard at the center of the family’s residential complex. The Peruzzi family chapel, in the nearby Basilica of Santa Croce, is frescoed with scenes of the lives of saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist by Giotto and his workshop in the early 1300s.
Palazzo Peruzzi (more accurately Torre) was constructed around this time and retains much of its original medieval appearance: namely the rock-faced ashlar masonry of local Florentine sandstone. Halfway up the façade, the corbels that once supported an exterior wooden gallery can still be seen, and the building’s original fenestration is suggested through the selected and shaped applications of intonaco and redbrick repair. Despite a sensational bankruptcy in 1343, caused at least in part by the lack of repayment of loans extended to King Edward III of England, the Peruzzi remained an important political force throughout the Renaissance and modern times.
The Palazzo was subsequently sold to the Capoquadri of Empoli, whose coat-of-arms can still be seen on the building’s exterior, and ultimately to the Malenchini family. The palace appears in the list drawn up in 1901 by the general directorate of antiquities and fine arts, as a monumental building to be considered national artistic heritage.
On the side of the building overlooking via de’ Rustici, above a walled window, is a 15th-century bas-relief depicting Saint Bartholomew, donated by the painter Valerio Valeri and placed here by the city’s aesthetics committee. The building’s state prior to this intervention is partly documented in the engraving by Antonio Terreni with the View of the Arco de’ Peruzzi (see Francesco Fontani, Viaggio pittorico della Toscana, Firenze, Giuseppe Tofani, vol. I, 1801, p. 77).