In 2006 the Hotel del Sole al Pantheon was 539 years old… Originally called the Locanda del Montone the inn was an instant success with intellectual and well to do travelers primarily due to it’s fantastic location directly in front of the Pantheon. Over the centuries many a famous VIP and important scholar has stayed here as we will now show you.
The great poet Ludovico Ariosto who transformed his memories into poetry was a frequent guest as were Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.
Many noble dignitaries also stayed at the Hotel del Sole al Pantheon including King Frederick III of Hapsburg plus a whole host of medieval late renaissance Princes, Dukes, Duchesses and other Royalty. The composer Mascagni who wrote La Cavalleria Rusticana stayed at the Locanda del Montone on the night this, his most famous work, was premiered at the nearby Barberini Theatre.
On the exterior of the hotel’s façade you can still see 2 commemorative plaques depicting when Ariosto and Mascagni stayed here.
The Albergo del Sole Al Pantheon is continuing to act as a resting spot for itinerant travellers as it has done, without interruption, for over half a millennium. Since 1467 this hotel, then called La Locanda del Montone, has hosted famous artists and politicians, and has witnessed the changing face of Rome from the renaissance onward. Throughout its early years, it was host to many political and religious dignitaries visiting the eternal city, which lead to it’s name being renowned as the accommodation of choice in Rome near the Pantheon itself over 2000 years old.
The Locanda, as it was then known, is first mentioned in official documentation in 1469 during Frederick III visit to meet the then Pope, Paolo II. Upon Fredericks visit, the Vatican who would pay visiting dignitary’s accommodation costs, record paying a certain Domenico for the bed and board of the 13 men that made up Frederick’s entourage and their horses.
In 1510 the Hotel was to change ownership, and the building over the next century witnessed some turbulent times. Not only were there three disastrous floods to hit the city (1530,1557 and 1598) the establishment also survived the great sack of Rome by Clement VII in 1527. It also continually housing the pilgrims that would flood to Rome to witness the numerous successors to the pontificate as the centuries rolled by.
You can tell even from the earliest photographs how sophisticated a location Piazza della Rotunda and the Pantheon is.
Finally in the early sixteen hundreds when the property was bought by the Ruffini family, the establishment adopted the name of the Locanda del Sole. It was a name which was to stick, with minor amendments, for over 400 years! It was common practise in the days before strictly organised street names and numbers to adopt easily discernable symbols as the reference point for businesses. The reputation of the hotel grew to such an extent that even one of the small access streets to the Pantheon was named the Vicolo del Sole, in reference to the Locanda.
As Rome was to grow and modernise over future centuries, the Locanda was to face increasing competition and development around it, yet it still maintained its reputation for class and quality. This was to be proven as late as the end the 19th century through it’s use as an official residence by Pietro Mascagni during the glory years of his opera, Cavalleria Rusticana, at the end of the 19th century.
Text translated and adapted from Italian version by Salvatore Paolini.