Almost all the celebrities who spent at least one night in Bologna have been guests at the Grand Hotel Majestic "già Baglioni". If you have the chance to take a look at the Guests Golden Book of the Hotel you will find all their autographs. However, the best keeper of these memories is the general manager Tiberio Biondi, who takes part of the hotel life from more than thirty years and preserves many precious anecdotes.
He well remembers when Lady Diana stayed at the Majestic, by the time it was simply known as the Baglioni.
In his memory, the Princess, a symbol of an age and who recently returned to prominence thanks to The Crown
, was - as we will learn - someone who appreciated authenticity and small details.
Lady Diana, the brief and intense life of an icon of her time
The princess won the admiration and affection of many people. This was due in particular to her social commitment, which went beyond the obligations and duties of her role. She always invested her time, energy and resources in supporting the most vulnerable, taking part in charity events such as Pavarotti & Friends. Indeed, it was in one of these occasions that she visited Bologna in 1995. Her humanitarian work saw her travelling the world to raise public awareness, joining Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and the Dalai Lama, himself a guest of the Majestic too. Her sudden death in 1997 put an end to this work, but it did not erase her memory. She was only 36 years old.
1995: The princess arrives at the hotel
Certain images remain etched in the memory. One of these was the time when Lady Diana came to Bologna to attend the Pavarotti & Friends charity concert and support her good friend Luciano Pavarotti.
It was the 12th September 1995 and a moltitude of fans, photographers and journalists had gathered around the hotel. They crowded the street, the sidewalks and even climbed on the gates of the Cathedral of St. Pietro, all in excited wait. Lady Diana was greeted with a warm applause as she stepped out of her car in front of the hotel entrance. For someone who was always in the spotlight, her reaction was somewhat surprising. As manager Tiberio Biondi recalls: she visibly blushed, turning the same colour as her red suit.
The princess then stayed in the Giambologna Presidential Suite
, one of the most beautiful and historic classic Venetian style rooms. The original period dressing table she used during her stay is still part of the suite furnishings.
Lady Diana and her entourage occupied an entire floor, an unforgettable experience, with the staff scrupulously following the royal protocol sent to the hotel in well in advance.
Two photographs taken at that time can still be found in the Café Marinetti
, delighting and fascinating our customers. One picture shows the princess arriving at the Baglioni in her red suit. The other is a shot of Lady Diana and Luciano Pavarotti greeting each other warmly.
Let's now take a closer look back in time to that day in 1995. Lady Diana returned to the Majestic late at night, after attending the Pavarotti & Friends concert. Often during these events, public figures, or members of royal families have literally no time to eat, in order to dedicate their full attention to the event. So, she came back to hotel hungry. Her staff ordered for Her lasagne alla bolognese from room service, no doubt intrigued by the fame of this typical recipe. The meal was greatly appreciated as the plate returned back to the kitchen empty and clean. Before leaving the hotel, the princess extended her compliments to the staff. She said that despite the press siege, her tight schedule and her duties, she had enjoyed the opportunity to feel "Bolognese for a night".