< ITALY | VENICE-LIDO: Hotel Excelsior
It was 11 o’ clock on the night of July 21st 1908 when the festive notes of the municipal band filled the air and fireworks illuminated the Lagoon of Venice for over three thousand invited guests, personalities who had travelled especially for the occasion from all over the world, and for the over 30.000 venetian citizens who reached the Lido to be present to the event.
The event they had come to celebrate was the opening of the Hotel Excelsior, the inspiration of the great architect Nicolo’ Spada. His vision for the Venice Lido transformed it from
little more than a long sandbank forming a barrier between the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea into a previously undreamed-of complement to the adjacent glories offered to visitors by
the city of Venice itself.
And the world of tourism responded just as Spada and his partner Giuseppe Volpi expected. In 1908, Volpi’s two-years-old creation, CIGA (Compagnia Italiana Grandi Alberghi), was able to take over the Excelsior from the Società Bagni Lido and transform it into one of the world’s prime quality tourist venues. By 1913, annual revenue was already exceeding the then astonishing sum of 37 million of Italian Lire.
Ever since the day of its inauguration, the Excelsior has always been the focal point of the Lido, to the point where the American financier Pierpont Morgan was able with some justification to quip in 1912 that “In America, those who have visited Europe talk more of the Excelsior Palace than they do of the Doge’s Palace”.
Over the years innumerable distinguished guests have stayed at the Excelsior, from Barbara Hutton to Paola and Albert of Liège, from Erroll Flynn to the Duke of Windsor, from Don Carlos of Bestegui to Winston Churchill, and no star in the firmament of world cinema would dream of opting to stay anywhere else during the Venice Film Festival.
The most recent restoration included the restoration and refurbishing of all the bedrooms and the reorienting all the rooms that previously overlooked the noisy main road at the back of the hotel: now they all enjoy a relaxing view of the “Corte Moresca”, an enchanting interior courtyard that recalls the unmistakable and flowing water everywhere, the colour of flourishing plants all-pervasive glow of romance.
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