Grand Hotel Majestic “gia Baglioni”
By Adrian Mourby
Bologna’s oldest hotel celebrated its centenary in 2012. A university city with a long musical tradition that encompasses Mozart, Rossini, Verdi , Wagner and Respighi, Bologna never became a major nineteenth century tourist destination like so much of Italy. It wasn’t until 1912 that the Baglioni family thought it was worth converting an old seminary on Via indipendenza into this stately hotel.
The Grand Hotel Majestic stands on an old road into the Roman colony of Bononia. In fact in the hotel’s basement you can see the remains of that very road today. The seminary was built by the great Bolognese architect Alfonso Torreggiani (1682-1764). In 1738 Torreggiani was given 2,000 scudi to build an arch-epsicopal seminary on an intersection on the old Roman road. The site was directly opposite the Cathedral of San Pietro. Three mediaeval mansions were demolished to make way for the sturdy four storey-structure which like so much of Bologna is set back behind a long, arched portico that runs the length of the street. With the completion of the seminary teaching could move from Bologna’s mediaeval towers and into something much more suitable. The new building backed on to – as it still does today – the Renaissance Palazzo Fava, the two of them pretty much taking up an entire city block. At the time of the seminary’s conversion into a hotel in 1912 parts of Palazzo Fava were incorporated which meant that frescoes created by the Caracci family in 1584 can be seen in the hotel’s dining room, as well as on the piano-nobile of Palazo Fava (now an art gallery). There are also Caracci canvasses on the first floor of the hotel, biblical scenes of Cain and Abel and David praying over the body of Goliath as well as scenes from the life of Hercules.
The Baglioni family ran the Grand Hotel from 1912 to 1977 when it closed to reopen ten years later as the only five star hotel in Bologna. Since July 2010 the Grand Hotel Majestic “gia’ Baglioni" has been owned by the Due Torri Hotels group. Recent refurbishment has restored the early glamour of the hotel and this has extended into a thorough restoration of Via Manzoni which runs behind the Grand Hotel. With access to Palazzo Fava and the beautiful neglected Church of San Filppinii, as well as the Caracci restauarant and a new literray cafe run by the hotel Via Manzoni has also benfeitted from the recent refurbishment of the Grand Dame of Bologna.