This 17th-century palazzo was a gift from Pope Alexander VII of the Chigi family to his niece Olimpia on the occasion of her wedding to the nobleman Giulio de’ Gori. Today, as the only five-star hotel in the historic center of Siena, it faithfully reflects its noble past. Over the years the former Palazzo Gori Pannilini was transformed from a private residential palace into one of the most important hotels of Siena, welcoming such celebrated guests as Queen Margaret of Savoy. The hotel of old, named simply the Hotel Continentale, eventually succumbed to difficult times, and closed its doors in the later part of the 20th century.
After over a decade of renovation and restructuring, the new Grand Hotel Continental opened, having returned the palazzo to its original splendor. It is easy for a guest to envision the arrival of carriages through what is now a grand foyer. The first floor, the piano nobile, was always the most elegant, handsomely furnished, part of a palace. Beneath it frescoed ceilings and in mirrored salons, the family entertained their guests. Today’s guest can savor the refined elegance of this bygone era, in any of the bedroom suites on this floor, where every luxurious detail mirrors unforgotten glimpses of a noble past.
Tastefully decorated rooms on the second floor are no less elegant. The original, deep wine-rich colors of its painted tile and wood-beam ceiling were repeated in the textiles of our room, furnished with carefully selected antiques. The only thing that perhaps surpassed the comfort of our room was the view outside our window. Nearby terracotta roof tiles lead the eye to a horizon dominated by the Church of San Domenico, its red-brick hues warmed by the Siena sunshine during the day, or floodlit against a blue-velvet sky at night.
Grand Hotel Continental is located on one of the most important streets of the city, for business as well as for shopping - a pleasant pedestrian thoroughfare leading to Il Campo. This unique palace in the heart of Siena, once a wedding gift, still whispers romance today.
All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson
Grand Hotel Continental
Banchi di Sopra, 85, 53100 Siena ~ Tuscany, Italy
View of Chiesa San Domenico from room ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson
Grand Hotel Continental lobby ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson