< ITALY | NAPLES: Eurostars Hotel Excelsior
The large, impressive entrance hall welcomes the visitor into a warm, elegant atmosphere. The doors close and the noises of the city fade into the background. Crossing the threshold of the Hotel Excelsior is like a step back into the past and rich tradition; on the wall to the right is an original engraving from 1775 commissioned by Giovanni Carafa the Duke of Noja and completed for the King of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinando IV. It is a map showing a view of the city and the layout of the ancient sea-front. This is an elegant, refined space, with antique carpets gracing the floors and sparkling lampshades from Murano lighting the marble drawing-room.
One inevitably reflects on the events of hundred years of this hotel's existence, the many people who have stayed here and their influence on history this century. The drawing-rooms have
hosted parties and banquets for important guests: royal families, aristocrats, financiers, actors and actresses from the stage and screen, artists and scientists, none of whom would have
missed a stay at the Hotel Excelsior. The furnishing of the Royal Suite has remained unchanged; only the bed-canopy has gone.
The walls are covered with damask silk and adorned with valuable old prints, the fine Venetian wardrobe is hand-painted and edged with golden sequins. Over an antique console-table hangs a framed mirror embellished with ornaments and crowned by the royal symbol, an eagle. The rooms are atmospheric and exciting after closely following the affairs of great people during their daily lives, where the public mask was dropped.
Every room in the hotel is different; furnished with antiques, creating a fin-de-siecle atmosphere, each one special and quite unique. "Inside the walls of this great house, the guests were like parts of a musical scale full of notes. On high, where the stairs seem to touch Olympus, there are many illustrious names". Prince Umberto of Savoy lived in Napoli with his family for some ten years. His home was the Hotel Excelsior and he was always surrounded by many guests, like Eduardo De Filippo who one evening recited one of his plays: "cravatte signori". A charming story is told about one Christmas holiday, when one of the Prince's guests asked for a couple of "bagpipe players" as a surprise for His Majesty. After a few minutes, the rooms reverberated to the disturbing pastoral lament of the shepherds.
This was the Belle Époque and every year a prestigious dinner, Ida Crimeni's "Grand Ball", was held and everyone who mattered in the whole of Napoli was invited and no-one who was anyone missed it. Everyone was dressed in "Fracchesciasse", which means formal dress in dialect: the men in stiff tails and the ladies in long, low-necked dresses. The guests were somewhat like ancient Romans who used to come to Napoli for its warm climate, music and literature. Visitors unknowingly dominated by the Neapolitan people, faithfully reflecting this city and its stark contrasts.
"It is impossible to define the Neapolitan, the beggars, the homeless, the duellers on the streets of Napoli, the fishermen, the destitute and the charlatans". This is the reply given by Natale Rusconi, ex-director of the Hotel Excelsior, when asked by the journalist Lilian Langeseth-Christensen what makes constitutes the Neapolitan. Rusconi concluded by saying: "I adore Neapolitans but I cannot define them".
The famous porter of the Hotel Excelsior "Peppino" was also a Neapolitan (his real name was Sir Giuseppe Esposito, after being knighted by President Saragat). He told the journalist Lamberto Sorrentini: "I consider myself fortunate that when the hotel was rebuilt after the war, I was appointed Head Porter at the age of only twenty-six . You may have travelled around the world, but the world has come to me. My wealth is my many friends, and every Christmas I receive hundreds of cards from them with stamps from around the world. Paul Getty never forgot me."
This could only happen at the Hotel Excelsior in Italy: in other countries, the porter at a luxury hotel was just a normal employee. The elegant Partenope room has been the perfect backdrop for innumerable receptions and illustrious dinners. Famous chefs have played their part in running the kitchens. In May 1972, the famous American magazine Gourmet dedicated its middle pages to Napoli, describing its wonderful sites and customs. It refers to Hotel Excelsior as an oasis of comfort and elegance, and offers readers a number of famous recipes from the Hotel: "Sorbet à l'orange" and "Profiteroles au chocolat".
"La Terrazza" is the panoramic restaurant of the Hotel Excelsior, where guests dine with the sparkling panorama of the Bay, the beauty of the distant islands and the promontory of Posillipo in the background. Heads of government of the world's major industrialised nations "G7" which met Napoli in 1994 came here to admire the view. In the course of the years, many other prominent people have enjoyed this magnificent sight. It confirms that everyone's favourite Hotel Excelsior was in Napoli.
"Hotel Excelsior" in Napoli offers the highest standards of hospitality and can do justice to the name "Excelsior" which means "the best" in Latin. Those who have the opportunity to stay here are offered all the possible seductions dreamed up by nature or Mankind.
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