The hoteliers you could meet today at Hotel & Appartamento Principe come from a fascinating history, whose roots stretch back to the nineteenth century.


vintage portrait early XX century Florence Italy Giovanni Bronzi

The family pioneer, Giovanni Bronzi, was the first to make the leap from farming life in the countryside outside of Arezzo to the big city. And he did so at a very tender age: born in 1882, he started working at Hotel Patria in Florence at just nine years old. In those days, two things were perfectly normal that would be strange today: working since childhood and having a very long apprenticeship in hotels before rising to the most prestigious positions. 

Giovanni started to climb up the hotel hierarchy starting from the lowest rung. He was first hired as a cellarman because he came from the Tuscan countryside where wine was produced and had some expertise in the area. His task was to remember where the bottles of the large wine cellar were kept to always be ready to bring one to the waiters at a moment’s notice when hotel guests ordered it.

Though still only a child, he proved himself capable and organized, and was soon brought to work in the dining room. Here, the lowest-ranking waiters were called runners’ commis and served meals to the highest-ranking hotel staff: the manager, the assistant manager, the first and second concierges, the first and second head waiters, the sommelier, and the bartender. One step up above the runners’ commis were the dining room waiters who brought plates from the kitchen to the door of the dining room, where they gave them to the dining room commis who brought them to the guests, or the demi chef, if, for instance, there was a fish to be filleted on the guéridon set up next to the diners’ table. At the end of the meal, the commis de débarasser came in, their job to clear the table. The dining room was supervised all the while by the first and second head waiters, supported by the sommelier, who was in charge of the wines.



In those days, it took years to move up the ranks, but Giovanni succeeded in doing so, earning a reputation for being eager to learn and having great organizational skills. Always full of initiative, he went several times to work in France and Great Britain to learn French and English on his own. When he got back to Italy, he used these languages to talk to foreign guests.



old certificates Italian hotelier society Giovanni Bronzi


And so it happened: in 1897, Giovanni rose to the rank of commissionaire at the Hotel New York in Florence (today’s Palazzo Ricasoli), and then became second concierge at the Hotel Baglioni in 1904, responsible for receiving guests. He later became deputy director and then director at the Hotel Savoy in Florence, as well as other hotels in Venice and Rapallo.

The arc of his professional career was complete in the 1930s when he became the owner of Hotel Miramare in the Tuscan coastal town of Viareggio. Meanwhile, in Florence, his son Alberto had bought the Hotel Principe. Giovanni delighted in spending the free time of his final years there, soaking up the livelier pace and the international atmosphere of the great city of art that was Florence then. 


Family portrait Bronzi family Hotel Miramare


And still is Florence now. Come stay with us and find out for yourself.