The history of the Plaza Hotel Lucchesi begins in 1860, when it opens its tourism activities on the Lungarno della Zecca Vecchia in Florence.
On the premises, there was already in the 15th Century the “Spedale del Ceppo” and, according to some historians of the city, also a Templars mansion, active until the 13th Century. The “Spedale del Ceppo” was the hospital of the Saints Jacopo and Filippo, founded by the Compagnia di San Niccolò who supervised all the alms collected in the “ceppo”. In facts, the “ceppo” was a hollow tree trunk where the faithful were introducing the coins for the poors; in particular in Florence, the “ceppo” was also a support in the form of a pyramid where you placed the small gifts and candy for children at Christmas.
The first name of the hotel, "Pensione Lucchesi", derives from the family name of its founders, Demetrio and Emilia Lucchesi, who left to his son Ermenegildo the task of leading the structure in the new century.
The 1860s were a special period for the city and the whole Italian country: in these years, the “Granducato di Toscana” votes for annexation to the “Regno d’Italia” and the city of Florence lives a veritable urban revolution, starting from the destruction of the medieval walls. This is a very important period of great changes in Italy, a period when Florence plays a primary role at the national level, having been named "Capital" of the newly formed Italian Republic, from 1865 to 1871.
At the time, the Lucchesi building had only two floors but, as some postcards of that period shown, it was already equipped with every ‘modern' comfort, a real luxury for those years: electricity, lift, central heating and garage! The “Pensione Lucchesi”, together with a few other hotels, is also present in the first telephone directory of the city, in 1884: its telephone number was 732. As evidenced by a plaque that still exists in the hotel, on 21st September 1890, the italian King Umberto I° attends from the hotel a big competition of fireworks, also documented by a letter of thanks to the “Pensione Lucchesi” by Francesco Guicciardini, the mayor of Florence of those years.
The first years of the 20th Century are crazy and sparkling even for the “Pensione Lucchesi” and all sorts of artists and travelers go through its 20 rooms: among these, there is the English writer Lawrence HD, who stays in 1926 for some weeks at the Lucchesi with his wife and his two daughters, while he’s writing his masterpiece “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. Staying on the literary subject, in 1946 also Vasco Pratolini, one of the most noted Italian writers of the 20th Century, he mentions the “Pensione Lucchesi” in "Cronache di poveri amanti", a realist novel set in the early '20s, during the rise of Fascism: here the hotel is mentioned several times, when the coalmen of Via del Corno had to provide for its supplies.
During the Second World War, also this hotel assists the devastation and destruction of the bridges of the city; nevertheless it does not let down and start again with its receptive activity as soon as possible. In the golden years of the reconstruction, in 1952, the “Pensione Lucchesi” makes its most important restructuring, becoming the new “Plaza Hotel Lucchesi”: the hotel is in fact attached to the adjacent building and erected with other two floors. It remains still visible the difference between the old wrought-iron and stone stairway of the first floor and the new one, with marble, of the two upper floors.
The modern history of the Plaza Hotel Lucchesi starts from here, when also the hotel property changes, passing before to the Bonazza Family and then to the Possenti, owners of the Grand Hotel Cavour in the same years.
In the late 50s and mid-60s, thanks to the proximity of the best theaters in Florence, many distinguished guests of those wonderful and unforgettable years staying at the Plaza Lucchesi: the Italian singers Domenico Modugno and Milva, the actress Delia Scala, the showmen Walter Chiari and Gino Bramieri, the actors of the film “Amici Miei”, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret, and also a young French politician named Francois Mitterand. And many, many others.
However, fate does not always design good surprises: on the morning of November 4th 1966, just on the Lungarno della Zecca Vecchia, where is the hotel, the Arno River bursts its banks at 7:29 am, bringing death and devastation all over the city. Right next to the Hotel, the National Central Library is particularly damaged; it becomes famous for the thousands of "Mud Angels", the volunteers came from all over Italy and the world to save the immense heritage of archives, books, historical documents and artworks kept inside. The Plaza Hotel Lucchesi is certainly not saved by the flood and suffers extensive damage to its structures. However, together with the whole city, soon it gets back on track and, with a great spirit, returns to be active only after a few weeks.
The new Plaza Hotel Lucchesi of the 2nd millennium comes from these premises and still is one of the historic hotels of our city, a symbol of our culture and our hospitality.