The Hotel Cipriani was conceived in the late 1950s, at a time when postwar
Italy was being celebrated in such films as Roman Holiday, Three Coins
in the Fountain, and Summertime. This abridged version of hotel's
official history describes how the Cipriani came about:
Commendatore Giuseppe Cipriani, restaurateur extraordinaire and founder of the
unique Venetian establishment "Harry's Bar," met with an enthusiastic audience
amongst his customers for a project he had nurtured for many years. This was to
build a hotel within easy reach of St. Mark's Square and yet far enough away to
guarantee peace and privacy.
His audience included the three daughters of the second Earl
of Iveagh (head of the Guinness family), namely Viscountess Boyd of Merton, Lady
Honor Svedar and Lady Bridgit Ness, who were later to become his partners.
Commendatore Cipriani already had the proposed site in mind.
Matters proceded rapidly. A joint company was formed and the
ideally-situated 3-acre plot on the island of Giudecca, just three minutes by
boat from St. Mark's Square, was purchased. Within two years the hotel opened
its doors, and it is an amusing fact that the front garden of the façade
was laid out on the morning of the opening day, one of the trees arriving only
minutes before the first guest.
The hotel enjoyed instant acclaim and depicted a relaxed atmosphere
concentrating on personal service and simple but superbly prepared food. During
the first decade the popularity of the hotel extended to such a degree that in
1968 some adjoining land was purchased and a magnificent 600-meter swimming pool (the only one in Venice) was built.
The suites and bedrooms are simply but
tastefully furnished, most of them overlooking the lagoon, and all are
air-conditioned. The room service is one of the factors which have made the
hotel world-famous. It is an interesting fact that each of the Guinness sisters
designed a suite for use by themselves and their families, the suites still
being referred to by the sisters' names: Lady Honor, Lady Patricia, and Lady
The Hotel Cipriani was purchased by Sea
Containers in 1976 whose president, Mr. James B. Sherwood, was a regular
visitor. In November, 1977, he appointed Dr. Natale Rusconi as Managing
Director. (Note: Dr. Rusconi is still very much in charge of the Cipriani
after more than 25 years at the helm.)