Splendors old and new at the Plaza
Nowhere is better than Hotel Plaza e de Russie, Viareggio’s oldest hotel, to give you a sense of being in the heart of the wonders of both art and nature, in equal measure.
Erected in 1871 along the route of the Grand Tour, the hotel quickly became a meeting place of important figures who appreciated the impeccable service, discretion and style of this elegant palace overlooking the sea—from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who gained inspiration on long walks through the woods, to Giacomo Puccini, entwined in a love story here with the baroness Josephine von Stengel that was the subject of much gossip at the time.
Situated along a seaside promenade, the hotel is in the heart of the Art Nouveau district that arose in the early 1900s, a period in which Viareggio was an international playground where the glories of the times intertwined with their political turmoil. First to find comfort and shelter here were Russian expatriates, fleeing from the Tsarist Empire, followed by Russian aristocracy escaping the Bolshevik Revolution. Events such as these gave the hotel not only a certain number of accounts that were to go forever unpaid, but also the “de Russie” name, which it maintains to this day.
In more recent times, the hotel has welcomed guests from the worlds of entertainment and sport, including Giorgio Gaber and Maradona, and is also the site of the Viareggio Prize, one of Italy’s most prestigious literary awards. To this day, the entire area is a true jewel of historical architecture.