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Il Tornabuoni, Florence. A Renaissance palazzo has reincarnated

The use of long-lasting materials with less maintenance as a means of sustainable design. Neighbouring villages in the Tuscan region provided the source for sandstone, brass, leather and terra cotta

Il Tornabuoni, a new luxury property by AG Hotels

During the 1480s Giovanni Tornabuoni gathered in his hands the patronage of a notable chapel. He was the uncle of Lorenzo de’ Medici, who then ruled the city. Giovanni commissioned artist Domenico Ghirlandaio for fresco cycles on the walls, along with stained-glass windows, and a new altarpiece for the main altar. He intended to transform it into a funerary chapel of his family. The Tornabuoni Chapel was, therefore, built as the main chapel of the Florentine church Santa Maria Novella. The decorations had the aim of exhibiting the prestige of the Tornabuoni family. While, the members’ affiliation with Lorenzo il Magnifico represented another fundamental aspect. The Tornabuoni also ordered several still-surviving artworks. Their commitment to family, knowledge of ancient literature, music, love, women, loss, and religious devotion represented the main topics. Therefore, their artistic legacy makes the Tornabuoni an important family of early modern art patrons of the Florentine Renaissance. 

A stone’s throw away from the symbolic Ponte Vecchio and river Arno, a Renaissance palazzo has reincarnated. It is located on high street of Via de’ Tornabuoni. Architect Andrea Auletta collaborated with AG Hotels Group – a Rome-based hotel management company – for the conceptualization of Hotel Il Tornabuoni. A historic palace houses the structure. The two parties met at the rooftop of Palazzo Tornabuoni in 2018. They were inspired by the magnificence of the palace. For this reason, they agreed to join forces to transform the heritage property into a fine hospitality offering. «Presenting contemporary Italian design tendencies in a historic architectural site, without modifying the original content and layout of the building, was a stimulating challenge», recalls Auletta. The thirty-five thousand square feet hotel is home to sixty-two rooms. The hotel features five floors and a basement. Further, four gastronomic establishments also characterize the structure. 

Architect Andrea Auletta’s background

Auletta’s architectural training began with the Faculty of Architecture in Venice, and then Polytechnic in Milan. He also pursued Interior Design at IED (European Institute of Design), where he graduated in 1997. Metropolitan cities – including Paris, London, New York, Montecarlo, and Miami – feature Auletta’s projects. The architect has, in fact, over twenty years of experience in spatial design. His two-year stint with acclaimed architect Andrea Branzi helped him garner an in-depth understanding of Renaissance design. «I was part of a proper familia’ in the true Renaissance sense».

Last year Auletta also launched his interdisciplinary design studio by the name of Silorian, in Milan, where he culls and refines design elements created by Italian artists. «I trust my intuition for inspiration. I am endlessly curious and often translate my inspiration into objects. Trusted carpenters, upholsterers, and artisans develop the said pieces. They have worked with me for decades. For Il Tornabuoni, we have dealt with every element personally. From designing the wallpapers, carpets, canopy, textiles, rugs, curtains, lamps, placemats, and other decorative items», explains Auletta.

Via de’ Tornabuoni

October 2020 represented the reopening date for Il Tornabuoni. But, due to the pandemic restrictions, the launch got delayed. The hotel is now scheduled to open in September this year. The structure’s neighborhood – via de’ Tornabuoni – is known as the city’s fashion district. It is brimming with grandeur and art. Curated arched windows on the ground floor of the remodeled 16th century Renaissance palaces, showcase the flagship stores of Italian and international luxury fashion brands. Moreover, while promenading around the boulevard of this high street, every nook unravels the lingering essence of the Florentine nobility. Architectural symbology and depiction also mark the location. Further, historical attractions – such as Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Santa Maria Novella perfumery, Palazzo Strozzi, Piazzale Michelangelo, Santa Maria del Fiore, Uffizi Gallery, to name a few – characterize the locale.

The hotel is spread across five floors, each of them represented with a color scheme

Lampoon review: Il Tornabuoni

As for Il Tornabuoni’s design strategy, Auletta decided to investigate the motifs of the Italian Renaissance. He explored, in fact, geometries, chromatic paths, and surface qualities. Furniture and finishes exhibit the use of local materials. In point of fact, they are sourced from within Italy, such as Carrara marble, pietra serena with its many shades of grey, brass, leather, and terra cotta. «This is not because of the localism spirit. It is because of the fine craftsmanship reflected in the products of our country. An aspect that cannot be replicated», adds Auletta. The hotel’s project and site work started together. They also experienced an evolution through the working process, with an intent to harness the remnants of the Renaissance architectural details.

«By the time we arrived on the fourth floor we discovered an entire Italian frescoed ceiling. Instantly, we decided to honour it by building a suite around it». Inspired by the colors of ancient paintings and textiles, Auletta uses an interplay of colors to communicate through his interior design. «Color is the way to put emotion and space». He has demonstrated a mélange of modern and classical colors to create eclectic prints. «The use of bold pink and peacock color in the restaurant is an example of this». Five floors characterize the hotel. A different color scheme – orange, red, grey, blue, and yellow – represents each floor. «We’ve tried to represent the exuberance of the Renaissance period through color». 

Rooms, eateries and a wine cellar

The hotel’s sixty-two rooms are divided into six categories from deluxe to signature suites. They are designed as an ode to the Renaissance. «Each room is tailor-made and is spatially different from the other», adds Auletta. Furthermore, a four-poster bed that comes with a brass canopy marks all bedrooms. Auletta decided to dedicate generous space for the bathroom, «bath is a place of wellness, beauty, and hygiene. We took inspiration from the ancient bath and spas». In addition, mosaics in black, white, and shades of grey embellish the bathroom floors. The tank and the sink feature Carrara marble from Tuscany. Classic Italian white ceramic, and colored wallpapers cover the walls «for a touch of irony».

Il Tornabuoni boasts four eateries. Each of them follows a distinct theme, showcasing curated concepts catering to the different demographics. La Cave is the wine cellar located in the basement of the building. Original vaulted ceiling, floors of terracotta, and an exposition of Italian wines and French bubblies are the elements marking La Cave. The cellar’s wallpaper design evokes a sense of irony. It depicts a drunk monkey holding a Champagne bottle while hanging on a rope. «The monkey here represents the irrational human world», adds Auletta.

Il Magnifico, an informal space for meetings and dinners

Located on the ground floor of the building, Il Magnifico is an informal space for meetings and dinners. The bistrot borrowed its name from Lorenzo Il Magnifico. Green walls, leather benches, and butterfly cages made of brass frames adorn the space. «The butterfly cages are one of our signature styles. They are a representation of satire and contradiction. We love styling and working around animal motifs as they are very symbolic». Further, Lucie, on the fourth floor, is a gourmet restaurant dishing out international flavors with a touch of nouvelle cuisine. Shades of pink and peacock characterize the interiors of this intimate restaurant. On the fourth floor of Tornabuoni, one can also find The Butterfly Terrace, the American-inspired bar. Its rooftop location facilitates a breathtaking panorama of the cityscape, and the Florentine hills. Stylized butterfly motifs on cushions, lamps, and placemats are the elements marking the bar space.

Sustainable design is fundamental for Auletta. «Sustainability for us is using local materials with a long life cycle because they need less maintenance». Choosing low energy impact materials is pivotal. However, «we must pay attention to the ease of maintenance, and the speed of cleaning. These factors, in fact, contribute to the running costs, which are proportional to energy consumption», he adds. In Milan, Auletta also designed the E.c.ho. Hotel for the Starhotels chain. This structure won the European Hotel Design Award in London for the ‘Best Sustainable Hotel in Europe’ in 2012.

Il Tornabuoni

Via de’ Tornabuoni, 3, 50123 Firenze FI

Il Tornabuoni, a new luxury property by AG Hotels, will open September 1, 2021 in Florence, Italy. It is located along Via Tornabuoni in the historic 12th-century Palazzo Minerbetti. The hotel will offer 62 rooms and suites in the heart of Renaissance Florence.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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