At the heart of the historic centre of Parma, the Mercure Stendhal Parma is one of the gems of this Italian city.
It contains a fabulous collection of works of art and amazing furnishings inspired by the era of Louis XV and Louis XVI – the highpoint of Franco-Italian friendship. We visit this unique Mercure hotel in the company of its General Manager, Renato Baladelli.
Gold chandeliers, sparkling white ceilings, warm red tones: we are in Italy, at the Mercure Parma Stendhal, yet the lobby is reminiscent of the most luxurious French mansion houses. Its interior decoration – unique and original for the Mercure brand – takes the visitor by surprise.
At the heart of the city centre of Parma
The hotel, which has 63 rooms, is located in the heart of the old town and at the centre of the amazing history of Parma. Just a few steps away, visitors can admire the Palazzo della Pilotta, the Teatro Farnese and the Teatro Regio. “The rich history of the Duchy of Parma, which was a gift from Napoleon to his wife, the Empress Marie-Louise in 1815, still shines brightly.” The hotel’s unique location, encircled by the extravagant past of the Dukes of Parma, now attracts a clientele of business people and influential politicians, as well as numerous artists. “Our guests have included the dancer and choreographer Maurice Béjart, the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, the Italian actor and director Giancarlo Giannini…”
Exceptional furniture in the style of Louis XV and Louis XVI
In 2010, the rooms were furnished in a typical Louis XV and Louis XVI style, corresponding to the first period of government of Don Felipe de Bourbon and the golden era of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza in the 18th century. “The furniture is now a key part of the hotel’s identity. Customers choose their room for the way it’s decorated.” Indeed, every room is furnished with armchairs, wing chairs, daybeds, headboards, wardrobes and other cabinets that have been custom-made by a local craftsman. “This type of furniture is usually the preserve of luxury hotels. It’s unusual for a Mercure brand hotel. It’s something we’re very proud of.”
Testimony to a bygone era, the rooms in the Empire and Direttorio style evoke the most illustrious figures in the history of France, people such as Charles X, Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III. The chests, chairs, coffee tables and mirrors also recall the close relationship between France and Italy. “Parma has always been a city that is open to the world and to French cultural influence.” Indeed, the hotel gets its name from the closeness of this bond. “The owner wanted to pay tribute to Stendhal, a writer who is very popular here.” A smiling white statue of the famous author takes pride of place in the bar-restaurant. The reason? One of his most successful novels takes place in the city: The Charterhouse of Parma.
Surrounded by works of art
From the lobby to the bar to the meeting rooms, visitors walk across beautiful marble floors, while the walls of the dining room are hung with superb paintings portraying the major Napoleonic battles. “The tableware was designed by the local painter, Mattioli.” And there is a bust of another famous Parma resident in the bar: Giuseppe Verdi, the great opera composer. Parma was the centre of a very rich artistic scene. Many artists lived here, such as the great Renaissance painter Correggio, to whom we owe the famous fresco in the convent of Saint Paul in Parma, and his pupil, Parmigianino.
The old stables
The building itself is a witness to the past. The lower part, on the ground floor, has a brick facade with several arches. “These bricks come from the old Palazzo della Pilotta stables, which are no longer in existence.” The rest of the building is contemporary in style, dating from 1961. This combination of old and new makes for an original building. “The most beautiful room, room 226 on the top floor, has a magnificent view of the city, the neighbouring palazzo and the rooftops of Parma.” Other rooms have a view over the green lawns of the Piazzale della Pace.
The charm of the Dolce Vita
Good service and a customer-friendly approach are the defining characteristics of the hotel team. “Most of the staff have worked here for over 20 years. They know the regulars and know how to please them.” Customers also enjoy the gourmet products from Parma that are available at the hotel: the famous ham – prosciutto di Parma – and, of course, Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano. On the menu of the Pilotta restaurant is the fresh filled pasta dish that was invented in Parma, Tortelli d’Erbetta, which are handmade using spinach and parmesan cheese; something to tempt the appetite after strolling through the streets of Parma, this beautiful, delicate jewel of a city…