< ITALY | ROME: Hotel de Russie
Located between two of Rome's most beautiful and famous Piazzas, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, and close to the most fashionable streets with their elegant boutiques, lies the Hotel de Russie. It was designed by Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier between 1816 and 1818, at that time when he was working on the final touches for Piazza del Popolo and the Pincio hill above.
Originally known as the “Grand Hotel de Russie et des Iles Britannique”, the hotel owes its name by the many members of the Russian Imperial House and from the Russian Romantic
painters who chose the hotel as location of journey for their stay in the Eternal City. The Roman Aristocracy, used to give wonderful parties, such as the famous ones organised
after the fox hunt.
During the second world war the hotel was requisitioned by the Military Information Services and after the war the Hotel was taken over by Count Romolo Vaselli, and became the head office of the RAI, the Italian Television Channel until 1993. On the 15th April 2000, it was reopened and brought to its former function of a luxury hotel by Sir Rocco Forte.
The hotel was frequented by famous people like Diaghilev and Picasso for the Russian Ballet which was held in Rome; Strawinskij, Cocteau, Lina Cavalieri, the eccentric and beautiful Princess Zeniade Yussupova. Prince Jerome Napoleon, nephew of the great emperor and husband of Princess Clotilde di Savoia, spent the last years of his life and died in the hotel in 1891.
Extending from Via del Babuino up to the Pincian Hill and then merging into the Villa Borghese Park, the historical garden of the Hotel de Russie was originally a modest vineyard adjoining an ancient plot of land which at the beginning of the 17th Century Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese acquired to create a ‘Villa of Delights”.
It was later redesigned by architect Giuseppe Valadier, who with an ‘eighteenth-century’ project adapted it to the fashion of the time and created a garden with architectural pieces, walking paths and rest areas by erecting green banks and creating cool areas with a small waterfall running between three nymphaeums.
The present day restructuring of the ‘Secret Garden’, that takes this name because it is hidden by the building that overlooks Via del Babuino, has been given to a landscape architect - Antonella Daroda who brought it back to its original look. By doing so the centennial tall trees has been safeguarded and the lawns and flowerbeds restored. The ‘Secret Garden’ has become an elegant and celebrated meeting point for Hotel guests and Roman society.
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