LA DOLCE VITA
Turin, Milan, Pavia, Venice,
Rimini, Bologna, Florence, Rome,
Naples, Capri, Sorrento Palermo, Taormina
A powerful appeal, a special charm, an extraordinary and insatiable appetite for life. The temples and palaces of Syracuse. Venice and the Lido, glamorous Rome and Capri. We can picture the elegant travelers who would stay at Hotel Danieli, Hotel Europa, or the Gritti; the myriad, intermingled worlds. How many stories? How many journeys? The exiled and the artists, the writers looking for inspiration, the lovers waiting for their partners, the nervous poets, the chic travelers, the tourists who came for the hidden bays, turquoise waters, and the prospect of sipping an aperitif in the sunshine on a piazzetta. In Rome, they could be found at Hotel Flora on Via Veneto, right at the top, on the terrace overlooking the city. What a view! Since it opened in 1905, guests had filled its Art Nouveau interiors. The poetess Ada Negri was a regular, and Paul Valéry said that the atmosphere there was unique.
In Venice, Hemingway, Graham Greene, John Dos Passos, and many others stayed at the Gritti. D’Annunzio preferred the Danieli. In 1913, Thomas Mann moved into the Grand Hotel des Bains where he set his novella Death in Venice. In the 1940s, Venice and its Mostra attracted greater numbers and for the first time since its creation, the film festival had an international jury. Directors such as Frank Capra, Joseph von Stenberg, Marcel L’Herbier, and John Ford attended. The young Italian and international smart set liked to meet at the bars of grand Venetian hotels for a drink, and spend their evenings at the Bauer, the Grand Hotel, or the Europa.
This ritual gave a bartender at the Europa an idea. The young man liked his job and watching the people around him. He observed this new clientele’s taste for bars in refined decors and pondered the idea of opening one himself, one that would be as elegant as a luxury hotel bar and attract the same kind of customers. He opened the celebrated Harry’s Bar on May 13, 1931, where they served the equally famous Bellini. Upper-class travelers were the first to frequent the place, followed by an endless stream of visitors from all over the world. Hemingway would describe Venice, the Gritti, the Cipriani, and Harry’s Bar in Across the River and Into the Trees, in which an American army colonel reminisces about Renata, a nineteen-year-old contessa. The writer also stayed at the pretty Locanda Cipriani on the island of Torcello. The Locanda and its delightful gardens were steeped in la dolce vita, and it had been opened in 1934 by Giuseppe Cipriani, our inspired bartender.
“Three Venetian cafés have waited for me,
over the years, unchanged. In the morning,
it’s the one next the Accademia, by the bridge;
for a glass of orangeade it’s by the Canal.
The sun shines straight at you, about ten o’clock;
the new air comes to you, fresh and clean,
from the sea.”
– Paul Morand, Venices
About World Tour
Louis Vuitton and Editions Xavier Barral published an original travel book: World Tour, a genuine journey around the world in twenty-one stopovers with 1,000 hotel labels from the collection constituted by Gaston-Louis Vuitton. Formerly stuck to the luggage of travelers, these small posters tell us their fabulous adventure and inspire an initiatory journey, a Grand Tour back to the mythical past of the Art of travel.
This fascinating volume by well-known travel writer Francisca Mattéoli draws on his collection to pay tribute to the most famous hotels of the world, evoking 21 world destinations through texts, illustrations, archive documents and quotations from famous travelers.
Learn more about Louis Vuitton’s World Tour.
Images via Louis Vuitton