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Italian Interiors

The fascinating, medieval city walls that surround Lucca, Italy, are welcoming a full-service luxury hotel when the Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection, opens in the historic old town on Dec. 1. Standing stylishly and overlooking Piazza del Giglio and Piazza Napoleone, the former 16th-century palazzo will debut a masterfully renovated design, fueled by an arts and music-focused concept that is beautifully evocative of the city’s past and present.

Grand Universe Lucca will add 55 furnished rooms and suites, an elegant fine dining restaurant, a lounge area with a classical piano anchoring the space, a rooftop bar with city views and a wine tasting cellar set among the remnants of an ancient wall, continuing the site’s graceful evolution through the millenniums. The hotel’s interiors will masterfully blend timeless elegance and contemporary comforts, inviting guests to a journey through the eras. Colorful silk textiles drawn by earthy shades of grape red, pine green and Tuscan sun yellow, reflect the city’s famous silk production heritage, while delicate wall tapestries will pay homage to the region’s vineyard patterns.

“The interior project of the hotel reinterprets the tradition of Lucca in a very contemporary way, through its materials, its colors, the valorization of its spaces, the research of an authentic and elegant atmosphere that connects directly with the identity of the city of Lucca and the most important buildings that characterize it,” said Giovanni Polazzi, a founder partner of Archea Associati responsible for the Grand Universe Lucca project. “Moreover, the very strong relationship that the Grand Universe Lucca has always had with the world of music and theatre has been emphasized.”

La Storia (History)
Recent findings show that the actual foundation of the hotel dates back to the Roman period, circa 200 BC. A palazzo of the Paoli family during the Renaissance in the mid 18th century, the site was turned into a hotel—Hotel Universo e Tosca, opened in 1857—that became a destination for artists, poets, philosophers and royalty from around the world. Opera composer Giacomo Puccini was said to be a frequent guest in between performances at Teatro del Giglio. The property closed in 2015 and has since undergone a meticulous restoration inspired by its storied, colorful past.

“Particularly important was the theme of the colors which were chosen with a direct reference to the colors of the silk fabrics which represented one of the most important and prestigious activities for the city of Lucca,” Polazzi said.

“The most important challenge was to work on a unique building, rich in history and tradition, trying to reproduce a contemporary project that, while equipping itself with advanced technological systems and comfort, reinterprets the theme of hospitality, enhancing and making exclusive all its spaces. A careful research and selection of objects and furnishing elements belonging to the history of Lucca and its most illustrious visitors from the world of culture and in particular music and theatre has been made.”

Posizione (Location)
Grand Universe Lucca is located in the heart of Lucca, standing in front of the Teatro del Giglio and adjacent to Piazza Napoleone, a cultural gathering place for artists and some of the biggest names in music. Each July, the Lucca Summer Festival is hosted here, with the likes of Elton John, Green Day, Bob Dylan, and Imagine Dragons, lighting up the piazza. North American travelers anticipating a return to Italy in 2021 can look forward to performances by Celine Dion, John Legend, and Ben Harper, among others, during next year’s Lucca Summer Festival.

Alloggi (Accommodations)
55 decorated guestrooms and suites will reflect a unique blend of timeless elegance and contemporary sophistication, with earthy colors, wooden surfaces and golden details, combined with lush silk and velvet textiles. Delicate suspended pendant lights made of glass pay homage to the property’s glassblowing history. Music being one of the hotel’s inherent pillars, the name of each room type—from the Adagio room to the Maestro suite—will reflect this culture.

Cibo e Bevande (Food & Beverage)
The hotel will offer several dynamic culinary outlets, each positioned to become destinations in themselves, with names that justify the brand story and complement the guest journey:

  • Symphony Lounge—Located at the ground hall, inviting guests to relax between outings. A piano player will enliven past eras with live performances.
  • Legacy Restaurant—Set on the ground floor, cuisine will encapsulate the local traditions of Lucca, with redefined recipes and fine wines.
  • Sommitá Rooftop Bar—The hotel’s highest point, offering a unique place to gaze and admire the city’s landmarks and monuments from above while enjoying artfully made cocktails and bites. Cocktail names to be inspired by great personalities of Lucca, such as the Puccini, made with prosecco and fresh mandarin juice.
  • Eterno Wine Cellar—Available for private events; wine-tasting sessions to be offered alongside the ancient remnants of an ancient wall.

“In the common areas, especially the lounge and the restaurant/bar, the seats have been arranged at a safe distance while respecting the elegance and refinement of these environments,” Polazzi said.

Ownership & Management
Grand Universe Lucca is jointly owned by Italy’s Marcucci Group and Shaner Italia, and operated by Shaner Ciocco. Both are divisions of Shaner Corporation.

“Visiting Lucca and the Grand Universe Lucca will be a unique and always different experience, you are immersed in the heart of the historic city where inside you can read the stratifications and transformations of the various eras,” Polazzi said.” From each room, you can also see charming views of Piazza del Giglio and Piazza Napoleone and the alleys that surround them.”