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Capolungo and its hotels in the Belle Époque

The Nervi promenade, intermittently painted with benches and railings the color of the sea, winds its way from the small harbor like a terracotta carpet along the rocky coastline until it reaches a picturesque bay inhabited by the now elderly and last fishermen, the Marina di Capolungo.

And once again, allow yourself a moment of tranquility, observing the sea and inhaling its saltiness; after that, continue beyond the widening, taking a path that leads to the Sant'Ilario al mare station (made famous by the song "Bocca di rosa" by Fabrizio De André).

The Pensione later transformed into a Grand Hotel in 1880.
The Pensione later transformed into a Grand Hotel in 1880.

Continuing beyond the station (now converted into a residence), you reach Via Aurelia, where it's impossible not to notice a large building that bears, now faded by time, an inscription recalling its former use as a hotel: the Schickert’s.

Nervi is a residential neighborhood with a particularly mild climate. In the early 1860s, thanks to the insight of Marquess Gaetano Groppallo, the first residence for tourist accommodation in the park was built on his initiative – the Pensione Inglese. It welcomed the first English tourists, many of whom were dear friends of the Marquess and initially stayed in his own residence.

A succession of luxury hotel constructions turned the area into a haven for many distinguished physicians, writers, poets, and entire noble families who enjoyed spending several months of the year away from their European home countries, where the climate was not as pleasant.

The Schickert’s hotel, which at that time was surrounded by an extensive park overlooking the Portofino Promontory, bears inscriptions that recall that prosperous period, even on the east-facing facade.

From 1932 onward, the hotels in Nervi faced serious economic difficulties, to the extent that some were sold to new owners who converted them into apartments. Thus, the Belle Époque era came to an end.

The former Schickert’s hotel in Nervi
"The former Schickert’s hotel in Nervi"

Sold and divided into apartments in 1940, the Schickert’s hotel has retained the beauty of ancient Genoese houses. Among encaustic tiles, antique furniture, frescoed ceilings, exposed stones, and ancient fireplaces, you can immerse yourself in a timeless atmosphere—a true oasis of peace surrounded by palm trees and olive trees.

The strong point of the building lies in its tall, very tall windows, ensuring ample light in the shared spaces, and the doors, reminiscent of a bygone era, made of fine wood with iron handles.

In the apartment I entered, on the second floor, there are shared spaces: the kitchen, on which a loft has been created, features a central table and encaustic tiles on the floor with simple decorations in black and terracotta. There's also an expansive living room where the centerpiece is the majestic chandelier with droplets that takes your breath away, situated right in the middle of the room. The furnishings consist of antique pieces, many found on-site, such as the ancient Liberty-style wooden bookshelf painted in green and gold, the lamps, and the fireplace which was lit on that occasion, creating a very welcoming atmosphere.

There are four bedrooms. The owners have sought to enhance their authenticity, selecting only a few functional furnishings for each room to let the walls, the windows with a view, the ceiling beams, and the exposed bricks of an arch speak for themselves.

I invite anyone who happens to stroll in that area to look up and carefully observe what is written on the facade of the building on Via Aurelia in Capolungo.

I read "Pension Des Palmes," and you?

But that's another story!

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