The Brunelleschi Hotel, a 4-star hotel in the Florence historic city center, is a beloved destination for all travelers, even imaginary ones. The character of Robert Langdon, penned by the famous American author Dan Brown as the protagonist of Inferno, stays at the Hotel Brunelleschi while in Florence.
“It was early evening when Langdon made his way across Piazza Sant’Elisabetta and returned to Florence’s elegant Hotel Brunelleschi. Upstairs in his room, he was relieved to find an oversize package waiting for him.”
(Dan Brown, Inferno)
The Brunelleschi Hotel is situated a few steps from the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery, and Ponte Vecchio. The district in which this hotel is located was once inhabited by Filippo Brunelleschi, hence the hotel’s name.
The hotel lies in an incredible location: its entrance and reception area are integrated into the ancient Torre della Pagliazza (Tower of Pagliazza), one of the oldest buildings still in existence in Florence, and in the place of the former Chiesa di San Michele (St. Michael’s Church), called in Palchetto, maybe because it was raised on a platform. In the hotel’s hall it is still possible to see the old church`s baptismal font and some paintings.
The hotel is listed in the registry of Florentine historical edifices.
The Tower of Pagliazza was built between 541 and 544 A.D. According to some, it was built by the Byzantines during the Gothic War as part of the city walls. According to others, it was built a century later by the Lombards for housing purposes.
In the twelfth century it began to be used as a women’s prison; it came to be known as the Pagliazza (from paglia, the Italian word for straw) since straw bedding was used by the inmates.
In the tenth century A.D., St. Michael’s Church was built near the tower that was used as its bell tower. The original dedication to the Archangel Michael would still assume a far more ancient foundation, given the particular veneration for this saint by the Lombards in Italy in the seventh century A.D.
Over the years the church changed names many times: from San Michele alle Trombe (St. Michael of the Trumpets), because trumpeters of the town resided within its parish, to the Church of Santa Maria della Visitazione (St. Mary of the Visitation), and finally to the Church of Santa Elisabetta (St. Elizabeth’s Church).
In the eighteenth century, following the widening of Via de’ Calzaiuoli, the holy building’s walls were incorporated into a big urban block. The Pagliazza Tower and St. Michael’s Church area were divided into three floors occupied by three modest hotels that soon closed, one by one. For many years, the buildings were forgotten, along with their treasures.
In 1980, the Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni (National Institute of Insurers) restored the entire hotel complex and uncover its relics; consequently, the Pagliazza Tower was liberated from the superstructures behind it, which had rendered it almost completely hidden, and the ancient Lombard walls were uncovered.
Archaeological excavations have revealed many Roman findings, one of the most precious being considered a true jewel: the Calidarium of the Roman termal baths, a hammam once used as a sauna.
After these discoveries were made, a museum was erected inside the Brunellleschi Hotel. Today, the museum is open with no cost of admission on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Visitors will be able to admire remarkable ceramic objects, Roman fragments, and various examples from Medieval times.
This makes the Hotel Brunelleschi both a prestigious hotel and a point of cultural reference not only for its guests, but for the city as a whole.
Picture by hotelbrunelleschi.it