The Siena hotel Palazzo Ravizza intimately reflects life in the region. Its long and infinitely fascinating history highlights the cosmopolitan nature of Siena in the pre-war years, its fortitude and bravery during the Second World War, and the most magical cultural moments throughout the past hundred years.
Once the home of some of the most notable aristocrats in the long history of Siena, the hotel came into the possession of the Grottanelli de Santi family in the early 1920’s. Giuditta and Elena, cousins of the Ravizza family, chose to convert the residence into a pensione that would be a temporary home for the many international artists, musicians, and academics that began to take an interest in the cultural treasures of Siena in the early 20th century.
From that point, this superb Siena hotel became the regular haunt of Helen Frick, founder of the Frick Gallery and Museum in New York. Her pre-war Steinway piano is still in use in the Grand Salon on the first floor. A young JFK visited the Palazzo in the late 1930’s. Giuditta, learning that Kennedy meant to take up politics after university, told him she hoped he might one day become President of the United States. He, light-heartedly ─ but as events were to show not without cause ─ seemed pleased with her prophecy.
During the War, the Historical Dwelling Palazzo’s staff secretly protected persecuted families, even while Axis forces occupied the grounds. The reception of these "guests" and of many others of whom it would take too long to write involved very considerable risk which Signorina Elena and her staff faced quietly and bravely. Upon the liberation of Siena, the hotel became an Allied base of operations in the region.
Following the war, distinguished guests returned. During these years, Evelyn Waugh, Aldous Huxley, Charles Morgan and Maurice Druon all stayed at the hotel. The famous Accademia Chigiana populated the halls with some of the most notable musicians of the time. Art historians from the most prestigious American and European schools spent months at Palazzo Ravizza studying the great tradition of Sienese painting.
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Palazzo Ravizza - Historical Dwelling in the center of Siena