“Rise in humility”
– Romolo Monti –
The Hotel Miramare has a very long story. It is located in the center of the pine forest of Castiglioncello, in Tuscany, overlooking the splendid Porticciolo bay.
Founded in 1912 by Romolo Monti, it has hosted big names in politics and culture, including Churchill, Pirandello, Marta Abba, Spadolini and Gassman. Over the years, the Hotel Miramare has been able to maintain a period atmosphere.
Inaugurated in 1912, Hotel Miramare turned 100 in July 2012.
November 1911 Romolo Monti and his wife Gina, recently married, decided to live in Castiglioncello. Thus began the construction of the Grand Hotel Miramare, not without difficulty.
A little over 8 months passed and the Hotel Miramare opened to the public: it was July 14, 1912. Initially composed of 3 floors, Romolo decided to add 2 more floors in the late 50s.
Always led by the Monti family, over the years it has been able to maintain its sobriety and elegance accompanied by first-rate service.
Exponents of politics and aristocracy, art and culture spend their holidays at the Hotel Miramare throughout the 1920s and 1930s, among which we mention: Ettore Sacchi, Minister of Public Works, Prince Bariantinsky escaped from Russia in the days of the Revolution, Madame Solvay Semet e Family, the painter Oscar Ghiglia, Arturo Toscanini, the sculptor Medardo Rosso, the writer and literary critic Giovanni Papini, the painter and art critic Ardengo Soffici, the writer and director Mario Missiroli, Luigi Pirandello and Marta Abba, Emma Gramatica and Massimo Bontempelli.
In the 60s and 70s other famous names, mainly related to the world of cinema, stayed usually at the Miramare Hotel, including Silvio D’Amico and family, Alberto Sordi, Roberto Castellani, Carlo and Enrico Vanzina, Marcello Mastroianni, Roberto and Isabella Rossellini, Sandro Continenza. In these years Castiglioncello was chosen by the director Dino Risi as the set for the famous film “Il Sorpasso”. All the cast, including: Vittorio Gassman, Catherine Spaak and Jean-Louis Trintignant stayed at the Hotel during the whole shooting.
Listed among the “Historical Places of Italy”, it has been linked to the “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea”, which is the name of the expression of Castiglioncello as a new touristic concept of resort.
In August 1984 Giovanni Spadolini, a Monti family friend and then Minister of the Italian Defense, wanted to remember the 40th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s visit to the officers allies at the Hotel Miramare (at the end of the Second World War) and on that occasion a commemorative plaque was placed at the entrance of the hotel.
100 years have passed but the atmosphere and hospitality remain unchanged to welcome all those who want to remember, and breath, our history.
I Macchiaioli at Castiglioncello
The “macchia revolution” began in the mid-1800s when a group of young artists from the Florence Academy who met at the “Caffè Michelangelo” discovered the novelties of contemporary French art that were catching on in Paris.
Many young artists joined the ideals of the “Macchiaioli”, thus defined in a disparaging article published in the “Gazzetta del Popolo” in 1862, including Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega, Giuseppe Abbati, Odoardo Borrani, Giovanni Boldini, Vincenzo Cabianca and Raffaello Sernesi . Castiglioncello, in Tuscany, was their cradle, the symbolic place of their creativity where to paint en plein air while being in contact with unspoiled nature to underline the daily and authentic aspects of human life. The country then offered a scenario of unspoiled beauty with few buildings that alternated with the splendid coast with crystal clear water.
The discovery of this enchanting place for the Macchiaioli and not only was thanks to Diego Martelli, a great Florentine art critic. Among the assets he inherited from the family there was in fact a large property located in Castiglioncello which became the seat of a lively artistic cenacle.
The works they created here were based on an enlightenment and evocative research that accentuated the beauty of the places by the sea and suggested the nostalgia of contemporary man.
One of the first paintings, inspired precisely by the uncontaminated nature of Castiglioncello, was a painting by Signorini: “Pascoli a Castiglioncello” which was followed by many others. All works of the highest quality, such as the elegant series of paintings executed in close familiarity by Borrani and from Abbati, such as “Orto a Castiglioncello” or “Red wagon with oxen”.
The Macchiaioli found here in Castiglioncello a happiness of expression attentive to the anxious passages of the Mediterranean light, the airy variation of the skies and the infinite range of greens. Landscapes that can still be seen walking through the streets and in the Marradi pine forest of the Tyrrhenian pearl.
It is in the context of the landscape dear to the Macchiaioli, made of nature and a few villas, where Romolo Monti, a pioneer of tourism to whom the Hotel Miramare owes the construction, also landed in Castiglioncello. Modenese by birth, after traveling many years for work, passing his adolescence in Argentina, he arrived in Castiglioncello in 1910, falling in love with it at first sight. So it was that shortly thereafter he bought a land of 8,000 square meters between the pine forest and the sea, decided to build the first hotel in Castiglioncello in a short time.
In parallel with his activity as a hotelier, he discovered his passion for painting, trading and collecting art works (in which he reported in each the slogan “Climb in humility”). An activity that accompanied him throughout his life giving him the opportunity to forge friendships with many painters, including various Macchiaioli, who passed by the Hotel Miramare and who, like Oscar Ghiglia, bought a house in Castiglioncello.
Romolo wrote in his book “Il mio sulco” (March 1934): “The fame of Castiglioncello, a cenacle of Tuscan Macchiaioli, where the artists were hosted by Diego Martelli, patron and patriot, is now known. Of him, Diego, it must truly be said that he placed his wealth and strong intelligence at the service of the spirit.
Castiglioncello was in those days a virgin site; he had the prodigious evil of beautiful natural places; the Macchiaioli were attracted by its pure primitiveness, by the strong colors enhanced by the marine brightness, by the dark spots shaved by the elements, by the variety of its coast and countryside; here the most complete freedom to do what they liked. Perhaps for this reason Ghiglia and the party came to Castiglioncello.
What a beautiful day this was; excellent contrasts and new knowledge; I remember that those collectors, sailed and on the pulse, wanted to see my few and modest things; and, as I kept them in the safe, they laughed so loudly for my forethought, which to them seemed, of course, excessive. I was a beginner, I thought the paintings were cool and safe, I considered them jewels.
It happened that, on that occasion, the painter Oscar Ghiglia was enthusiastic about the village, he combined the rent of a house to come with his family. And he returned. We were soon friendly companions. Honest and intelligent man, he was the best educator for me, he opened my mind, and helped to improve my artistic feelings.
He patiently, with convincing examples, simple and practical discussions endeavored to understand with the intellect what I was thirsty for».