History of "Hotel Annalena" (formerly: "Pensione Annalena")

The building is named after Annalena Malatesta, daughter of Countess Orsini and Galeotto Malatesta, Lord of Rimini.

Annalena's story was passed on to us by Niccolo Machiavelli in his Florentine Histories, written in the early 16th century.

Annalena Malatesta, daughter of Countess Orsini and Galeotto Malatesta, who was orphaned of both parents, was adopted, together with her immense patrimony, by Cosimo dei Medici who gave Annalena the Palazzo in via Romana in which today there is the dowry. 'Hotel Annalena. Widowed following a palace conspiracy hatched against Baldaccio, Annalena found comfort in faith and transformed her precious residence into a convent; in the years following Annalena's death (1491), the lands and convent buildings suffered a complex fate: until the mid-sixteenth century they were used as a military bulwark wanted by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de 'Medici.

In 1571 the fortifications were destroyed, and with them also the convent. Two centuries later in 1791, the land where the old monastery stood, was purchased by the Marquis Tommaso Corsi, who hired the architect Giuseppe Manetti for the construction of a garden, the first example of a romantic garden in Florence, still known as "Il Annalena's Garden ". Around 1810, along via Romana, the architect Giuseppe Del Rosso built the building now known as "Casa di Annalena", inspired by the Neoclassicism then in vogue.

In 1820 the building was purchased by the French army general Francesco MacDonald, former Minister of War of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The general enlarged the building, and then lived there with Carolina Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister.

In 1919, the first and second floors were transformed into a hotel by the Calastrini Rossoni family under the "Pensione Annalena" sign, quickly becoming a reference point for travelers and foreigners, poets and musicians.

The sculptor Olinto Calastrini, husband of the managers' daughter, lived there in the 1920s and practiced his art in the rooms of the pension.

Over the following decades, the Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale, the writers Jacques Bertion and Carlo Levi who stayed there in the 40s and wrote here several passages of his "Christ stopped at Eboli", as well as the director of the Metropolitan, stayed at Casa Annalena Museum of Art in New York Francis Henry Taylor.

Later in the years, Annalena Vittorio Gassman, Tognazzi and Luigi Dallapiccola, who lived there until his death in 1975, will descend to the Pensione Annalena.

Eugenio Montale often sojourned at Pensione Annalena where he met with his lover and muse Irma Brandeis, the Clizia of “The Occasions”.

It was here that he composed one of his most passionate lyric poems, “Interior-Exterior”: “...we are together on the veranda/ of ‘Annalena’/ combing through the rhymes of the venerable/ the pruritic John Donne...”.

He remembers his lover in his frequent letters: “always reclining/on the chaise longue/ on the veranda” (again in the Pensione Annalena) reading “lives of half-unknown saints / and baroque poets of poor reputation”.