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 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).
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.
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.
Anecdotes on the history, news, tips and insights to accompany you on your vacation in Florence
Food is becoming more and more a topic of conversation and driver of general public’s interest. What we feel is missing in such a conversation is often the root of the flavor: the work of farmers, herders and fishermen who respectfully manage and preserve our food biodiversity.
On the 24th of June in Florence takes place the celebrations for St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city. Every year on this very day, many events are held in the city: they are very popular among the Florentines, and a must-see for tourists and folklore enthusiasts.
130 km through the history and nature of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, from Piazza Maggiore in Bologna to Piazza della Signoria in Florence: the ancient Etruscan communication route dates back to the 4th century BC, linking the cities of Félsina (present-day Bologna) and Vipsul (Fiesole).