Design destinations are often a little disappointing. As the years go by structures are re-purposed or the inhabitants want something new. So it’s rare to see a place left just as the architect wished it to be. Gio Ponti’s Parco dei Principe Hotel in Sorrento is true to the vision of the master.
Best of all you can stay for a few days and soak it all up. I admit to having turned over the Cassina chair and ottoman in my room and examining the way the mirror was attached to the Ponti dressing table. How could I not? It was a rare opportunity to take as long as I wanted with original Ponti furniture.
My trip to Sorrento was unplanned. I’d been staying on Procida, an island nearby and realized I could visit the Parco dei Principe. The hotel as far as I know, is the only intact Gio Ponti work left of the chain he designed for Roberto Fernandes. The others long since renovated, sold off their original furnishings. The plethora of Parco dei Principi furniture on the market is a result of redecoration. They simply couldn’t imagine that the old furniture was worth anything. They sold it off without much thought. It must have been a shock to see the prices pieces brought on the international stage.
Built in 1960-1961 the hotel opened in 1962. It was the first of the Parco dei Principe chain to be realized.
Ponti worked with Ico Parisi, Carlo De Carli, Max Ingrand, Fausto Melotti and Ceramica D’Agostino to flesh out his design. Their furniture, lighting, and ceramics plus Ponti’s, are throughout the hotel’s interiors, even the guest rooms. A restoration in 1999 using period photographs and plans, recreated what had been lost. Luckily the furniture, lighting and ceramics from all the contributors remain. Seeing it all together is a rare treat.
The hotel, set above the Gulf of Naples is within sight of Mount Vesuvius. Entering my room I was confronted by the spectacular tiled floor. The windows to the sea began at the bottom of the wall, a remarkably effective device bringing the sea close in. High on the wall to my right, was a square window framing Mount Vesuvius. Ponti, known for being indefatigable was attentive to detail. A railing outside a door takes the form of the sun. The stairs make a pleasing pattern against the wall. The concrete pool area is sculpture. For more pictures from my trip see my Pinterest Board. I’ll be adding more images soon.