— The property used to be your father’s studio. What was the inspiration to transform it into a small boutique hotel?
We thought that maybe opening a hotel would be the best solution for both of us. My father could design the place and the world would come travelling to us, which is almost like seeing the world. Another thing was, Florence is a very busy city with a lot of people from abroad, but it’s really hard for us locals to get to get to know these people. The Florentines like to have separate lives from the tourists. For me and my father it’s the opposite. We want to get in touch with these foreigners coming to Florence. And now we have the chance to get to know them. So that’s our way of sharing Florence with the world.”
— Riva Lofts lounge
— Please tell us a bit about the history of Riva Lofts.
We believe that it used to be a farm because in our living room we have a signature of the mason who built it that says “Giovanni Paolo the mason with his sons in 1873”. Later on, I think a group of artisan workshops used the house because we found a lot of traces of ceramic pieces in the garden and there are these very big windows where we think they used to dry leather.
And from 1996 it was my father’s architecture studio until 2004, when we renovated it and opened Riva Lofts in 2006.”
— Loft Studio
— I absolutely love the style of Riva Lofts. Who was responsible for the interior design?
On the inside, he decided to use a lot of vintage furniture. So we went all over Italy and France looking for armchairs, tables, lamps, abat-jours, wardrobes etc. And my father also designed a lot of the furniture as well, for example all the kitchens in the rooms, a four poster bed and some of the tables and sofas. Then there are armchairs, sofas, cupboards and tables from the 50’s and the 60’s that we bought and restored.
I think his major ability was keeping a really good balance between the look of the contemporary architecture and furniture, the refined antiques and the touch of the warm and historic building.”
— You said that you travelled a lot to find much of the furniture. What are some of the places you bought them?
The abat-jours are different in all the rooms; it’s the same with cups – excuse me, I’m crazy about cups – so when I go to a flea market I buy 6 or 12 cups and they’re all mixed up. So every morning, you might have coffee in a different cup, and they’re all so beautiful. A few things also were in my father’s house already, so we moved them to the hotel.
The only thing we bought from a real hotelier company are the beds. They are Simmons beds, probably the best beds for hotels. But all the rooms at Riva Lofts are different, we have different chairs, different tables, different kitchens, different lamps...”
— Standard Studio
— What would you describe to be the essence of Riva Lofts?
The place is very elegant and beautiful, but very welcoming and homey at the same time. We also try to have an informal relation with our guests. We try to call them by name, and we’re very friendly. Just as if they were friends of friends coming to my house. I want to share my insight of the city and the areas which are less touristic with them. And they really appreciate this.
So that’s the essence; it’s very elegant but very informal. You see people passing barefoot here in the morning, going to the garden. Everybody feels like at home. The reception also closes at 8pm, so they can just pretend it is their house, going to the living room, preparing a coffee, taking a DVD, going to the garden to have a drink – and nobody says anything because it’s theirs – they’re alone.”
— What has been the biggest reward renting it out to guests?
And all the people who come here tell us that it’s even more beautiful than the pictures — usually it is the opposite. They say the place is beautiful and the feeling you get here is really homey. It’s a big reward because none of us has ever had a hotel, or thought about becoming a hotelier.
It means that we had good intuition doing something that we didn’t know very well. I think it is the combination of a beautiful place — where you normally expect the staff to be very stiff — and this informal, very warm feeling. For us it was a gamble and it was a challenge. We said, “Okay, that’s the way it should be in our opinion” and it worked. That’s the biggest reward we could have had.”