Grand Hotel Majestic “Già Baglioni”
Grand Hotel Majestic has recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary as the oldest and most renowned hotel in Bologna. Its history as a palace dates back to 1732 when the Bolognese Cardinal Lambertini ordered the construction of a new Archdiocesan Seminary in front of the Cathedral of San Pietro. The architecture was connected to that of the elegant 15th century Palazzo Fava Ghisilardi. Its location on the important via dell’Indipendenza sets its foundation above the archeological remains of the ancient Roman road system, part of which is still visible and has been left exposed in the basement level of the hotel. Perhaps its beginning as a seminary has blessed this building in some special way, as staying here feels very much like a blessing.
The interior is one of sophisticated elegance where ornate fixtures, rich brocades, and gilded furnishings are balanced by spacious, airy simplicity. The intimate courtyard extends its garden-like atmosphere by the clever use of some of the finest trompe l’oeil painting I have ever seen. Our room, with balcony, looks out on the façade of the Cathedral of St. Peter and to our right, we have a expansive view of towers and rooftops and more importantly, the famous Piazza Maggiore and the Neptune Fountain. Guests are “gifted” with the hotel’s rich artistic heritage in the15th century frescoed ceilings of the Camerino di Europa executed by the well-known Carracci brothers. Also of note are the grotesque-style paintings that adorn the ceilings of I Carracci Restaurant, attributed to the same school. All of this seems part of the “blessing” when combined with its over-all peaceful atmosphere and flawless service.
It would be difficult to single out the most praise-worthy aspect of dining at I Carracci Restaurant – the dome of its lovely ceiling, the soft-green brocaded walls with oil paintings and gilded mirrors, the tables set to please and prepare diners for a leisurely, flavorful journey at the hands of master Chef Giacomo Galeazzi. Our departure begins with a sformato di parmigiano topped with tiny wild strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar, accompanied by a gem-like white wine from the very local Umberto Cesari vineyards. A plate of thinly sliced culatello, the most prized part of Parma prosciutto, arranged like a flower, follows and whets our appetites for the Cucina Bolognese that is about to begin in earnest with none other than tagliatelle al ragù and baked green lasagne alla Bolognese, served in a creamy bath of parmesan sauce. The courses, paired with select wines from the region, continue and we do not let guilt slip into any opening between the chef’s specialties. This is food that impresses our taste buds, but satisfies the soul. One can taste the passion.
For wine lovers and those who simply love the enchantment of an old wine cellar, the hotel’s Morandi Wine Cellar dates back to the 15th century but is dedicated to Bologna’s 20th century artist, Giorgio Morandi. The cellar can seat up to 24 diners for a more intimate dinner party, arranged at long table set beneath vaulted stone ceilings and surrounded by an impressive collection of Italian and International wines.
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