Discovering Florence is not just a vacation but also a real trip. You can start from the beautiful Piazza D’Azeglio, which is the beautiful frame of your truly Regency Hotel.
Follow me in time and space.
In 1865, Florence became the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy where the royal family, Savoia, took residence at Palazzo Pitti and thousands of people flocked here and greatly increased the number of Florentine inhabitants. Ministries, state offices, banking branches, embassies, international prestigious firms, all moved to the city and with these the thousands of people who wanted great modern residences, English gardens and adequate city lighting.
A new city was to be designed, with big tree-lined boulevards with their perspective, which could bring the sight up until San Miniato. Furthermore, the city included perfect lighting and loads of very tidy and ordered green areas and lastly, beautiful modern and spacious homes.
One of the more important urban location was that of Piazza D’Azeglio, named after the great writer and statesman, Massimo D’Azeglio. It was thought of as a very elegant area surrounded by beautiful villas with gated gardens as if in Mayfair and Belgrave in a Victorian London, or in Paris where Napoleon III and the Baron Haussmann redesigned la Ville Lumière, or in Vienna, that in some ways, with the project of the famous Ring, inspired Poggi’s projects.
Where the immense properties of the counts Ginori and other noble families were located, developed a new quarter, named “Mattonaia” where at its center was the elegant and green square.
The villas surrounding the square were built to accommodate important people, who, with their families transferred from Turin, in the city of the lily, the new capital.
Amongst these was the banker Giacomo Servadio, who had two villas built, between 1866 and 1869, based on the projects by the architect Keffler. These were looking onto a big garden and were furnished with the more refined pieces of furniture.
Cool and shade-giving areas, lavish decorations and frescoes characterized these. In 1932, the two villas were unified by their new owners, the family of the Ricci Crisolini, from Arezzo, thus becoming, in its main structure what is today the location of the Regency Hotel.
One of the more famous inhabitants of the villa was the Polish writer Stefan Zeromski, who was residing in Florence in 1913 for a few months until the beginning of the First World War.
He was dedicated to achieving freedom for his country and as an exiled, he found some kind of peace in the city in the elegant building, where the writer moved with his wife, the painter, Anna Zawadka.
It was in Florence that their first daughter, Monika, was born. Important pages of his Florentine adventure can be found in Charitas, which is part of the trilogy Struggles with Satan.
Piazza D’azeglio became a small meeting place for many Polish intellectuals, as the various commemorative plates along the buildings demonstrate. Life in exile, a very lively and cosmopolitan environment have always allowed Florence to be a unique city for its culture. For the bibliophiles, it is important to remind you that at number 20 of the square was located a printing house. It was the refined Polish Printing house (Stamperia Polacca), which was created for the reprint of important editions.
Proceeding through the square, I remind you of the Principe Umberto Theatre at numbers 38-39, built in wood with a round plant recalling The Globe.
Already in 1869 it was where memorable shows were held, first amongst them all was the The Great Excelsior Ball. This was a mimic ballet, which had great success in the 80’s of the 19th Century, paying tribute to the new discoveries of the modern era, which was leading towards a future characterized by progress and innovation. Unfortunately, in 1889, a fire destroyed the theatre and on its ruins was built Villa Uzielli, which shows in its decors and architecture the beginning of the newly presented Liberty or Jugendstill style.
Regency Hotel and the square in front of it, thus have an important and prestigious history.
They have a tradition of beauty and elegance that allow this excellent place to be amazing. The green spaces of Piazza D’Azeglio is the perfect frame. Charm and a special welcoming can be sensed immediately. This is thanks to the international characters that the architects, who were called to design the new quarter, wanted to imprint in this specific location. Here you will be able to experience a unique and characteristic context in Florence, exemplifying a season that saw the city becoming the magnificent and modern capital of a new State.