Prague, Czech Republic
A hot-pink confection of Bohemian Neo-Renaissance style, the Hotel Opera stands in the less touristy Nové Město, or “New Town,” quarter of storied Prague.
Built at the end of the 13th Century, the Villa la Massa sits on the banks of the Arno River in the village of Candeli. It’s first historical mention notes that the villa was owned by the aristocratic Giraldi family.
Although given away as part of his daughter’s dowry, the Giraldi patriarch would hurry to buy the house back from the couple. His family would own the property for another two centuries until it was purchased by Santi Landini and would act as the famed editor’s summer residence. The home would remain part of the Florentine aristocracy for more than 250 years.
From 1525 on, it was passed between members of the family, each adding new architectural details. Such changes included towers at the four corners of the building, frescoes on the ground floor, and modifications to the chapel aligning with the style of the period.
Fast forward to the 1900’s, the villa would act as a detention facility for allied officers during World War II. Shortly after, it was purchased by the Sears family, and converted into a luxury hotel in 1948, opening to travelers from around the world. Guests have included Winston Churchill, Elisabeth Taylor, and even played host to the wedding of David Bowie and Iman.
In 1998, the villa underwent a complete renovation, restructuring according to the original Tuscan and Florentine style and restoring it to its Renaissance roots. Most recently, in 2019, one of the Villa’s five Tuscan buildings, La Limonaia, was renewed.
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