HOTEL BRISTOL PALACE
Hotel Bristol Palace is an elegant Art Nouveau building, one of the best known structures of Genoa. Since the early twentieth century it has been the heart of cultural life of the city during the Belle Epoque; it hosted parties and banquets of high society, and today, thanks to a careful restoration work, it has returned to its former glory.
The hotel is linked to the name of Alfred Hitchcock, who was a frequent guest. According to a legend, he was inspired by the impressive elliptical staircase of this marble palace which then appeared in his film "Vertigo".
We are in Via XX Settembre, in the center, a stone's throw from Palazzo Ducale and Piazza de Ferrari, the Carlo Felice theater and the most important museums and palaces of Genoa and the famous Rolli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site: you can't claim to have visited Genoa unless you were here, in contact with the inner soul of the city. Built between the late 1800s and early 1900s, Via XX Settembre is a series of elegant buildings, aand the Bristol Palace is among them. Since its opening in 1905, the Bristol has been considered one of the most prestigious hotels in the city: the high society of Genoa chose it as the setting for sophisticated and legendary parties and an exclusive restaurant. This location of great charm attracted such guests as Gabriele D'Annunzio, Luigi Pirandello and Emperor Hirohito.
Its reputation did not not save it from the upheavals of history: during the Second World War, the Germans occupied it as their headquarters, building a secret tunnel to the port of Genoa. Then, after the war, the Italian Committee for the Liberation of Northern Italy made it their headquarters.
Beautifully restored, today it retains its original structures and precious furnishings. In fact, in March 2014, with the efforts of Duetorrihotels Group, extensive renovations gave it back the former Nouveau and Art Deco glory: precious objects and furniture of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century came back to life. Today you can admire the sumptuous lounges Napoleon III, marble floors and walls in the banqueting and conference hall, the original ancient floors in the conference rooms and Giotto's Restaurant, where you can dine surrounded by stuccoes and frescoes. Sala Michelangelo, an old reading room of the hotel, preserved the large mirror, sconces on the walls and the central chandelier, a testimony to luxury that surrounded the important guests of the Hotel. It is proved by the images of time in the Grand Bristol Hôtel de Genes Guide, a precious book in French, one of Illustres Reynaud Guides.
The Hotel is a member of "Historical Places of Italy", a cultural association sponsored by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, that aims to enhance and protect the oldest and most prestigious localities through cultural, tourism and publishing initiatives. These hotels, restaurants, taverns, confectioners, grapperie, literary cafés for at least seventy years were the protagonists or even creators of Italian history – through the events that took place there and the people who participated in those events.
The Art Nouveau staircase that inspired Alfred Hitchcock
One of the finest details of the hotel, in terms of architectural and cultural heritage, is the elliptical, purely white staircase in Art Nouveau style: both from above and from below, it offers a dizzying perspective, aesthetically very precious one.
The staircase of Bristol Palace is linked to a legend that definitely has a large fund of truth: its delicate and enveloping spiral inspired Alfred Hitchcock to shoot some scenes of To Catch a Thief - the film "Vertigo", known in Italy as "The woman who lived twice".
In fact, the great director was one of the patrons of the hotel, he had stayed there already in 1925, when he made his first film "The pleasure garden". In '27, the future Master of thrill had no experience of directing yet. When many years later Francois Truffaut interviewed him to write his famous biography "Le cinéma selon Hitchcock," the filmmaker told some anecdotes and the background of his stay in Genoa with a rather improvised crew, who intended to shoot some scenes, particularly the port, and was often struggling with all sorts of contingencies. Nevertheless, it was worth the efforts: London Daily Express called Hitchcock "a young man with a master mind", a young man with the intelligence of a master. His route was drawn: he would become one of the greatest artists of the seventh art, linking his name to the city.