Art is in the air and on the walls at Hotel Savoy in piazza della Repubblica. The five-star luxury hotel was gearing up for Florence Biennale when The Florentine stopped by for a conversation with general manager Giancarlo Rizzi and PR manager Barbara Lo Giudice about advocating for art and culture in the city.
Standing in a show square awash with history and heritage, Hotel Savoy feels a keen responsibility to respect Isidoro Del Lungo’s ostentatious epigraph on the triumphal arch in the piazza: “The old city centre restored to new life from centuries of squalor”. Freshly restored in 2022, Vincenzo Micheli’s span serves as a symbol of the Savoy’s drive to give back to Florence. While many guests stay for an average of three nights, some are returners to the Tuscan city and seek a deeper experience beyond a cursory tour of all the bucket-list highlights.
“We want to participate more and more in our guests’ experience of the city,” says Giancarlo Rizzi. “Hotel Savoy is located in a special square with its own unique spirit. There’s no church and no office of power. No questura, no comune, nothing. It’s quite unusual to operate in a square like this in Florence… That means we have an even greater responsibility to make recommendations to our clients. We want to focus on the destination, which is about beauty, culture, art and craftsmanship.”
That beauty can be experienced firsthand by guests who stay in the Artist’s Suites. The decision to rebrand four of the hotel’s top suites involved inviting renowned artists in-house as well as giving other artists the possibility to showcase their works at the iconic Hotel Savoy, whose public spaces have been styled with signature prints and Renaissance antiques by interior designer Laudomia Pucci and the hospitality company’s director of design, Olga Polizzi.
Acting as a cultural salon
Hotel Savoy’s commitment to advocating for art and culture in Florence not only entails having agreements with leading cultural centres and events, such as Palazzo Strozzi, Museo Novecento and Florence Biennale, to secure tickets for the concierge team, but acting as a cultural salon to spark dialogue between big-name artists and local residents, at the same time pledging financial support to major institutions, foundations and associations.
“Hotel Savoy doesn’t just invest money in art and cultural projects,” explains Barbara Lo Giudice. “We don’t only want to be location partners; we want to be cultural partners by contributing to cultural projects with creative ideas…We have been fortunate to host the likes of Anish Kapoor, Santiago Calatrava and David LaChapelle, and we try to give locals the opportunity to meet artists through networking events.”
This ability to encounter artists does not only apply to the uppermost echelons of the art world. The recent World Dream Day aperitivo held in partnership with The Florentine showcased works by emerging artist Inna Morozova, whose exhibition is continuing in the halls and lounges of the city centre hotel. “We strive to give young artists visibility, and so make art thrive. The young artist we have in-house right now shows the next generation how amazing it can be to use artificial intelligence to express creativity in a different form,” continues Barbara.
Belonging to the London-based Rocco Forte Hotels hospitality company, Hotel Savoy in Florence embraces a focus on art as part of the brand’s commitment to giving back to the local community. Earlier this year, sister hotel Brown’s in London was equally art-centric in its approach through a major sponsorship of the V&A’s blockbuster Donatello exhibition. In Puglia, an events calendar is being shaped around music, while in Rome there’s a focus on art and nature at Hotel de Russie and cinema at Hotel de la Ville. “Every area has its unique traits,” Barbara reiterates.
“As a British company, we strive to bring benefits to Florence by what we are doing with art and we want to do more. Our aim is to deepen our ties to the local area and support the city to make the destination shine even more brightly for its beauty,” says Giancarlo. “For us, it’s all about supporting art and culture in Florence.”