Cesenatico | Leonardo Was Here

The latest five-star in hotel magnate Tonino Batani‘s empire opened its doors last week with an event more befitting Collins Avenue than Viale Carducci, the latter in picturesque Cesenatico on the riviera romagnolaI was lucky enough to enjoy it in the company of Tonino’s daughter Paola, the youngest of three Batani siblings, and her lovely husband, former deejay Denis Magalotti, Maga to friends. The Grand Hotel Leonardo da Vinci occupies an imposing listed building on the seafront. A beach resort in its first life, it was subsequently used as an arms depot, a water tower, a school and an exhibition space before its acquisition by Batani’s Select Hotels group and subsequent return to glory.

98 suites were renovated in just short of three years under the guidance of Cesena-based architect Massimo Casadei. They’re all decked out in rich coffee tones, from strong-and-black to caffè latte, in a timelessly elegant sort of vein. Bathrooms are marble-clad and service is impeccable. Soon to open is the 660 square meter spa with zen garden, while landscaping of 8000 square meters of park and construction of the big pool are under way.

Where does Leonardo da Vinci fit in? Well, he did his bit for the town some 5 centuries back, surveying and drawing the port canal at the behest of one Cesare Borgia. Cesenatico today, more modestly scenic than some of its louder neighbours along the coast, boasts a display of historic vessels as well as fishing boats and smaller yachts on its illustrious waterway. The evening ended with fireworks and a millefeuille the size of a small family home, to the tune of Alessandro Ristori & The Portofinos. I’m still dreaming about chef Stefano Donegalia‘s pike with sautéed porcini mushooms …