Like a magnet charged with energy and dynamism, Florence
has always been a hub for cultural events. Likewise, a stone’s throw from Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery, the Hotel Bernini Palace
has always been a “home from home” for celebrities in the city, offering hospitality
above all – but not only – to stars of the screen and showbusiness. Directors
such as Mario Monicelli, Dario Argento, Pedro Almodovar, Takeshi Kitano, Fernan Ozpetek, Giuseppe Tornatore and Bong Joonho, and actors
such as Marcello Mastroianni, Luca Ward, Alberto Sordi, Gigi Proietti, Ricky Tognazzi, Christian De Sica, Kim Rossi Stewart and Tullio Solenghi. Not forgetting the greatest star of all, Sophia Loren
A record career
Sophia Loren, real name Sofia Costanza Brigida Villani Scicolone, likes to say that she’s Neapolitan but she was actually born in Rome, in 1932. It is true, however, that she grew up in Pozzuoli near Naples, then in the city itself. As a young girl she took part in a number of beauty contests, which opened her way into the world of cinema. When she began frequenting film sets, often with a young up-and-coming actor, Marcello Mastroianni, and the older Vittorio De Sica, she soon met the man who would later become her husband, producer Carlo Ponti. After co-starring with international leading men like Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, William Holden and Clark Gable, she went on to appear in box-office successes such as Pane, amore e… (Scandal in Sorrento) and La Ciociara (Two Women), for which she won her first Oscar in 1962 (she won a second “lifetime achievement” Oscar in 1991). Other unforgettable films in which she has starred are Ieri, oggi, domani (Yesterday. Today and Tomorrow), Matrimonio all’italiana (Marriage Italian-style) and Una giornata particolare (A Special Day). Her face, immortalised in more than 80 films, is an Italian style icon celebrated the world over.
A room with a view at the Bernini
In 2006 Sophia Loren and her husband visited Florence as guests at the gala ceremony of the 10th Premio Galileo 2000
in Palazzo Pitti, where their son, conductor Carlo Ponti Jr, was one of the prizewinners.
When news spread about the actress’s arrival at the Bernini Palace Hotel, a huge crowd of fans gathered in front of the entrance hoping to meet and photograph her. Their number grew and grew to the point that they eventually spilled over onto the steps of the building which then housed the law courts and now houses the Museo Zeffirelli. To safeguard the star’s peace of mind, the Bernini Palace had to deploy security guards at the entrance.
Sophia Loren stayed in Suite 509
, in a romantic ambience with a view
over the city. The suite looks onto Piazza San Firenze
, dominated by the complex of the same name, a rare example of baroque architecture in the city centre. Above all, it offers a glimpse of the Duomo
and Brunelleschi’s cupola, the symbol of the city, Giotto’s campanile and the towers of the Bargello museum and the Badia Fiorentina abbey, which soar over the red-tiled roofs. It’s like embracing Florence with a single glance.