Royal Hotel Victoria, lungarno Pacinotti

Royal Victoria Hotel, facciata (M. Cerrai, Comune di Pisa)
Royal Victoria Hotel, facciata (M. Cerrai, Comune di Pisa)
In the 10th century, the Corporazione dei Vinajoli, one of the Pisan artisan guilds, erected the oldest tower of the building, which is visible at the back of the hotel. In the tower, the Università dei Vinajoli held lessons and in some rooms an inn had been created. At the time of the first Florentine conquest, in 1406, the tower was renamed the Sapienza, and passed into the hands of the Florentine captains and the inn was called della Vittoria (Victory); on the top of the building a Marzocco was installed, the Florentine lion. In 1837, the building was purchased by Pasquale Piegaja, who transformed the old inn into the Hôtel Royal de la Victoire, a name that was changed to Royal Hotel Victoria, following the ascent to the throne of Queen Victoria, which took place in the same year in England, with the aim of hosting a greater number of English tourists attracted to the city for its good climate. The real inauguration took place in 1839, when the Hotel hosted the participants of the First Congress of Italian Scientists. The restoration completely transformed the dark inn into a hotel with a contemporary taste, with apartments equipped with all comforts (including toilets), and a place where customers, also with their servants, could spend the winter. The hotel was equipped with a running water system, central heating and an elevator. Even today the hotel shows its nineteenth and twentieth century furnishings. Do not miss the opportunity to see the telephone on the ground floor and the kitchens on the first floor, home to numerous temporary exhibitions.

Distinguished guests: The guest books are a great testimony of the many visitors who passed through the hotel. Among the signatures and dedications we recognize Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, Virginia Woolf, Paolina Leopardi, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Giulio Einaudi and numerous royal families from every continent.
The First Congress of Italian Scientists: From 1829 onwards, the mathematician Charles Babbage promoted a political campaign that pushed all European scientists to form an academy of scientific knowledge, under which to identify and therefore gain a prestigious position. In 1839, Carlo Bonaparte, Napoleon's grandson, back from his US studies managed to convince the Grand Duke of Tuscany to bring together all Italian scientists in Pisa, on the occasion of the first congress of Italian scientists. The city kept pace with the great European capitals by hosting illustrious scholars from all over Italy, except for the Papal States, which denied their subjects the opportunity to participate in the event. On that occasion, the statue dedicated to Galileo Galilei was inaugurated and is still located in the main hall of the old Sapienza. The work of the attending scientists was organized into six sections: 1. chemistry, physics and mathematics; 2. geology; 3. botany and physiology; 4. zoology and comparative anatomy; 5. agronomy and technology; 6. medicine. Many of the meetings were held right inside the 'Caffè dell'Ussero' and the participants in the congress were hosted at the 'Royal Victoria Hotel', renovated for the occasion.
Among the guests who stayed at the Hotel, in the 30s of the twentieth century there was also Karen Blixen. One of her stories is titled 'The streets around Pisa': the protagonist rescues an old lady, whose carriage overturned on the roadside, and she tells him her story, asking him to look for her granddaughter and take to her a message of reconciliation. In literary circles Karen Blixen was known as Sherazade, but she is famous for writing My Africa, which was adapted for a film with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Other illustrious guests of the Hotel, to name a few, were Umberto Eco, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Luigi Pirandello, Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Emile Zola...
The Royal Victoria Hotel in the centre of Pisa, registered by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage as a historical building, houses elements belonging to a wide range of eras that refer to different suggestions. A world animated over the centuries by numerous guests: actors, directors, set designers, playwrights but also composers, musicians, writers, poets... Some films were shot there, including:
  • L'amore ritrovato (An Italian Romance) (2004) by Carlo Mazzacurati with Stefano Accorsi and Maya Sansa.
  • Puccini e la Fanciulla (Puccini and the Girl) (2008) by the Pisan Paolo Benvenuti. A room on the top floor of the hotel was completely modified to shoot some scenes of the film set in 1908 in Torre del Lago, where the villa of the composer from Lucca Giacomo Puccini is located. At that time, he was working on the opera La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the West). For adherence to the historical context, and to add pathos to the story, the director decided not to use sound, practically making it a silent film. Only the sounds of footsteps, the rustling, the gunfire and the screams can be heard.
  • L’amica geniale (My brilliant friend) (7th episode, II season of the TV series, 2019) shot in the building of the Royal Victoria Hotel; instead of it being a hotel, it is the college where Lenù, one of the two protagonists, lives.
Last update: 01/04/2021
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