Benci’s tales

A century of history

The history of Bencistà has ancient roots and preserves the memory of its past, of the people who have lived here over the centuries, of the guests who have stayed here since 1925; and of the five generations of our family who have lived, worked and studied here.

The Villa

The first record of the house dates back to the 14th century. It is said to have been home to famous Florentine families such as the Valori, the Minerbetti and the Ficiati: the Minerbetti crest, at the entrance to the hotel, as well as its name, Bencistà, literally “place where one feels good “, is testimony to this illustrious past. In the 16th century the villa passed to the Ficiati, and in 1759, to the nuns of Sant’Anna a Prato. It remained a convent for the next 150 years. In the second half of the nineteenth century the villa belonged to the Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin, exponent of German Symbolism, who worked from his studio located in a loggia overlooking Florence on the top floor of the tower (now room 34).

The Family

In 1925 a doctor named Pietro Simoni, from Mercatale in the Chianti region, bought the villa Bencistà from Arnold Böcklin’s son. Together with his wife Emma, Pietro wanted to turn the villa into a pensione.

From there, Bencistà became a hotel, and has continued to host guests up until today, except for the forced interruption of the Second World War, when the Meyer Hospital of Florence was hosted here from 1940-1942. It was later occupied by German troops, then British and American soldiers due to its dominant position over the city. For almost a century, five generations of the Simoni family have made the Pensione Bencistà a favourite destination for lovers of art, nature, music and culture.

The Pensione

An ancient house like ours has a living soul of its own, and the great privelege of being able to offer guests spaces of rare beauty, as well as a unique cultural environment in harmony with the splendid city of Florence. The first guests of the Pensione Bencistà arrived in luxurious cars, accompanied by their drivers and, sometimes with personal waiters in tow and stayed here for long holidays. After the war, attitudes towards vacations and the expectations related to luxury changed, and Bencistà became a destination for families and artists. Our guests recognize Bencistà as the ideal place to enjoy the beauty of Florence after a day spent visiting the wonders of the city below.

Stories, advices and events

Anecdotes on the history, news, tips and insights to accompany you on your vacation in Florence