BY SIMONE BANDINI
“Change your life so as to cancel it out, substituting an ideal of poetry for the drab prose of the daily paper.”
À rebours [Against Nature] Joris-Karl Huysmans (1884)
Our meeting with Laura Raffi takes place on a still warm September morning. Her Art Hotel Lucerna welcomes us with its ‘rooms of wonder’ glorious, as if it were a silent and enamored creature. In her gilded ‘belly’ a hall with curious sculptures, books and art folios, paintings by artists she is very fond of. We proceed towards the loggia of the bar and the breakfast room, in a play of lights and images that transport us elsewhere, into the kaleidoscopic world of possibility.
A historic and ground-breaking Riviera hotel, the Lucerna was founded in Castiglione della Pescaia in 1958 by Nello Raffi, Laura’s grandfather. In the same year, just think, that the famous Riva del Sole hotel opened. It was in 1972 that her parents Gino and Brunella started working so much there that the young Laura spent her youth here, breathing the air and life of the hotel in the management work as well as in the extraordinary ambience of encounters and acquaintances with the legendary characters of the time.
“When in 2013 I started to take care of the hotel exclusively ̶ Laura continues ̶ I looked after it as if it were my own child, I dedicated everything I had to it, with constant and progressive modernization work that made what you see today and likewise the level of service you receive”. There is a lot of personal satisfaction, business courage and maternal pride here.
Then in 2018 an important turning point: “I met with the architect and visual artist Massimo Viti, who perfectly interprets this existential and professional request of mine: being a passionate lover of art, I had a very strong desire to bring that to the hotel and, therefore, to my home and life”.
Laura deeply feels the need to surround herself with beauty ̶ and for this reason she works to finish her nineteenth-century style ‘rooms of wonders’ to completely satisfy her aspiration, not only aesthetic but at this point essential and vital too.
During the past summer there has been the knowledge input of and precious collaboration with art critic Mauro Papa, Director of the Polo Culturale Le Clarisse in Grosseto ̶ and the preparation of an important season of exhibitions here on the Riviera with exhibitions of Guido Venturini, Germano Paolini, Monica Mariniello, Francesco Burla, Giuseppe Linardi and Massimo Viti himself. A season that recently ended with an anthology show of all the artists involved. Great interest and many visitors for this place that has brought innovative energy and avant-gardes of culture and colour to the life of Castiglione della Pescaia.
“And this is how I share my love for art with my guests,” she continues. Day after day a sort of annulment of the everyday or rather, we should say, a systematic aestheticization of it. “Books, visual works, sculptures, fashion and my beloved and very special ceramics ̶ the concert of symphonic melodies that accompanying my life.
“The hotel is today the space of my beauty ̶ and here we come to her final wish ̶ and so I make these spaces available to anyone who wants to deal with my audience through their works, whether they are figurative or abstract, quality craftsmanship, objects or design”, she enthusiastically explains. A place that lends itself, we add, to book presentations as well as the launch of commercial products, corporate meetings or exclusive business events ̶ ready with its kitchen and coffee break arrangements.
For Laura, art is “the substance of the eyes, of the soul, emotion and involvement”, an ontological dimension that goes beyond the useful and the merely operative. Her daily existence is something carefully curated. The guests at the Lucerna, on the other hand, never stop looking around, enraptured by the beautiful detachment that emanates and transcends from this non-place, a daring utopia in the heart of Castiglione della Pescaia.
We just have to choose one of the 50 rooms of the hotel to spend dreamy days by the sea and a stone’s throw from the festival zone, increasingly delighted by the Maremman cuisine of the restaurant ̶ open only in the evening ̶ and managed with passion by brother Nello, named like the beloved grandfather.
For inquiries regarding exhibitions, info and reservations: Art Hotel Lucerna, Via IV Novembre 27, Castiglione della Pescaia (Gr) / Tel. 0564 933620 / email: email@example.com / www.hotellucerna.it