The Tornabuoni is located in one of the oldest and most prestigious palaces of Florence, the Palazzo Minerbetti. It was built in the 14th century and is quoted by numerous authors such as Fantozzi, Carocci and Bargellini who have each written about the Artistic and local history of the city.
The name derives from its first certified owner, Andrea Minerbetti, who in 1470 acquired a portion of the street, via de’ Tornabuoni for construction projects. The palace had already belonged to his family for eleven years, dating back to the pertinent deed of 1459. Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the house had a balcony on the corner of street ‘via del Parione’ which in 1737-1740 was carried out and modernized by the sculptor and architect Girolamo Ticciati. The balcony is still documented in some of the early nineteenth century engravings.
The Minerbetti family became extinct in 1771, and in 1793 the building passed to the Santini’s and then to the Buonvisi Montecatini of Lucca. A notary passage from 1807-1819 attests that Teresa Santini had the balcony still in place on the corner with via del Parione.
This is the era in which the Palace began its passage from a dwelling to a lodging. It was first known as the Hotel of the Pellicano, then Hotel the Regiment of England. It was considered to be amongst one of the best in the city and was frequented by wealthy foreigners. In the 1920s, Nikolai Demidoff and the Ukrainian capitalist Olizar Gustav both stayed there. Later and until 1918 it took the name of Hotel of Europe, welcoming the great American writer Henry James (in 1869) amongst its many guests.
The facade was restored in the eighties of the nineteenth century by the new owners - La Fondiaria, Insurance company - with the replacement of a considerable amount of the stonework. Other works are documented in more recent times, after the great flood of 1966 to repair the damage caused by flooding, then once again the facade in 1987 by the architect Claudio Bianchini. The entire building between was once again fully restored between 1990 and 1996, on the project by Brizio Montinaro.
The last name of the Hotel was the Tornabuoni Beacci until it was last closed for major refurbishing and opened as the present day’s Il Tornabuoni Hotel.
Since 1901, the palace had been listed as a monumental building and considered a National Artistic Heritage for the General Directorate of Antique and Fine Arts, and, as a whole, despite its numerous alterations, still today it continues to maintain the appearance of a solid medieval building.
Another important detail which is also worth noting, and that is, during the most recent restorations, some 13th century frescoes have brought to light, witnesses of what was here even before the Palazzo Minerbetti was built.