< ITALY | ROME: Hassler Roma
The world’s most famous stairway ends almost immediately in front of the Hassler Roma. The Spanish Steps were built in 1723 – 1725, and link Piazza di Spagna
at the base with the Church of Trinità dei Monti above. It’s easy to fall in love with the rooms overlooking such gorgeous views as the Piazza di Spagna and the familial ambience.
For over a century the Hassler at the top of the Spanish Steps has been recognized as one of Europe’s legendary independently-owned five-star luxury hotels, today owned and managed
by Roberto E. Wirth, fifth generation of the famous dynasty of Swiss hoteliers which began with Franz-Josef Bucher, now considered one of the pioneers of the hotel industry in Europe.
It all started in 1870s, when Bucher bought and developed the Trittalp area of Switzerland, previously remote and inaccessible. Within a couple of years, he built several hotels in addition to the Hammetschwand, still the highest chair-lift in Europe, and the Burgenstock railway.
In 1890, he sent his son-in-law, Heinrich Wirth, to Rome to become manager of the Hotel Minerva. There began the Wirth family's historical ties with Rome. Heinrich Wirth's son, Oscar,
joined the Hotel Hassler in 1921 and became the partner of another Swiss Hotelier, Albert Hassler, and later the owner of the prestigious hotel.
Mr. Hassler, son of well-established, successful Swiss hoteliers Anton and Matilde Hassler, bought the palazzo in 1893 which led to the family’s move from Naples to Rome. At the end of the 19th century, the city’s high society was used to hosting guests in their own homes (“homes” meaning some of the most beautiful palazzi in the world) where social life mostly took place within private walls and gardens.
As the hotel developed, its service, position and aristocratic atmosphere immediately seduced the local society, and within a couple of years became a sought-after destination for businessmen, poets, important diplomats and well-heeled tourists from all over. In 1921 Oscar Wirth accepted an offer from Mr. Hassler’s heirs to take over the hotel’s management. After this, the Hassler’s success and prestige progressively increased. In 1925 with the awakening of European tourism and the first consistent numbers of American tourists, the Hassler soon became the undisputed leader in the Italian hotel industry.
The hotel located at the top of the Spanish Steps had all the necessary requirements to become one of the most important hotels in Rome, but strongly needed to be restructured. Therefore, in 1939 Oscar Wirth demolished the building almost entirely in order to rebuild it anew. It is only due to Wirth’s stubbornness that the Hassler can now be admired as it is: in fact Oscar Wirth had to fight against government officers who did not want to grant the permission for the reconstruction of the building.
In the 1940s it opened its world-famous Rooftop Restaurant (now called Imàgo), the first panoramic restaurant ever built in Rome. During the Fascist period, Mussolini decided that the name “Hassler” did not sound Italian enough, and changed it to “Villa Medici.” At the end of World War II, the hotel was requisitioned by the U.S. Air-Force and became their headquarters in Rome. In 1947 the Hotel Hassler reopened to travelers from all around the world and with Oscar Wirth as its General Manager took up its traditional position as a temple of hospitality with few equals in terms of both position and service.
In 1950, Roberto, the first son of Oscar and his wife Carmen, was born in Rome. Today, Roberto overlooks the entire Hassler operation, having led the hotel to its position as one of Europe's top luxury hotels and the preferred destination for society's elite and world travellers. As the Hassler’s Managing Director, Roberto has accepted various invitations to participate in gourmet festivals around the world. He is also founder and President of the International Wine Academy of Roma, situated in Il Palazzetto, a charming 16th-century building overlooking Spanish Steps and a few minutes from the Hassler, also home to Il Palazzetto Restaurant.
Over the last 100 years, almost every famous signature can be found in the Hassler’s "Golden Book" - royalty, celebrity, writers, artists and musicians, opinion leaders from all over the world have all signed in; The Kennedy clan, Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly (honeymoon!), Prince Charles & Princess Diana, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Beatles, Pablo Picasso, Frank Sinatra, Riccardo Muti, President Jacques Chirac, President Lula of Brazil, Sting, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes, Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, Henry Kissinger, Madonna, Helmut Kohl, Most of the Rockefellers, President Eisenhower who turned a suite into his private study before the war, Oliver Stone, The “Three Tenors”: Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo, Bill Gates, Robin Williams, King Gustaf of Sweden who then invited the Pastry Chef of the Hassler to stay in his Stockholm palace in order to have his zabaione, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, Hugh Grant, George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Charles Aznavour, Giorgio Armani, Woody Allen, Ferran Adriá, Daniel Auteil, Claudio Abbado, Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Bergman, Harry Belafonte, Lauren Bacall, Luis Botero, Mel Brooks, Luigi Barzini, Jen Paul Belmondo, Boutros Ghali, Pierce Brosnan, Tony Bennett, Luc Besson, Tim Burton, Cate Blanhett, Fernando Barroso, Kofi Annan, Tony Curtis, Maurice Chevalier, Joan Collins, Michael Caine, Italo Calvino, Johnny Carson, Sean Connery, Enrico Coveri, Cyd Charisse, Pierre Cardin, Kevin Costner, Penelope Cruz, Deepak Chopra, Marlene Dietrich, Faye Dunaway, Danny De Vito, Alain Delon, Leonardo Di Caprio, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Linda Evangelista, Henry Ford, Jane Fonda, Federico Fellini, Mia Farrow, Roberto Falcao, Morgan Freeman, Clark Gable, Mel Gibson, Philip Glass, Angela Gheorghiu, Frank Gehry, Aldous Huxley, Selma Hayek, Dustin Hoffman, Julio Iglesias, Mick Jagger, P.D. James, Nicole Kidman, Takeshi Kitano, Karl Lagerfeld, Rita Levi Montalcini, Spike Lee, Kelly Le Brock, Roger Moore, Thomas Mann, Zubin Mehta, Liza Minelli, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophie Marceau, Rudolf Nureiev, Jack Nicholson, Lawrence Olivier, Peter O’Toole, Gregory Peck, Juan Peron, Al Pacino, Will Smith, Prince Felix de Luxembourg, Frederik of Denmark, Eleanor Roosevelt, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Queen of Romania, Queen Noor of Jordan, Roberto Redford, Martin Scorsese, Barbara Streisand , Shakira, Sharon Stone, Liv Ullmann, Gianni Versace, Fernandel, Peter Ustinov, Charles Schulz, Philippe Noiret, Jack Lemmon, Jean Paul Sartre, Renato Guttuso, von Karajan, Norman Rockwell, Steinbeck, Ava Gardner, Walter Chiari...and many more...
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