Palazzo Portinari Salviati surprises and opens its doors to a new concept: Chic Nonna.
With a long career in Italian haute cuisine, Chef Vito Mollica stepped into one of the city’s iconic palaces. He told us what it is like to live with the ghost of Beatrice Portinari and Cosimo I de’ Medici.
Beatrice, Dante Alighieri’s angel woman, resided in the building, her birthplace, later succeeded by Cosimo I, the second and last duke of the Florentine Republic. The location is privileged: adjacent to the Duomo, with triple overlooks on the most central streets of Florence, the architecture, the frescoes that follow one another on the walls of the Palace, an enchanting place to slip into the chef’s gourmet proposal.
A multi-sensory, culturally rich journey where you can relax and let go, through art and food, with chef Vito Mollica, who we had the opportunity to interview.
By Gherardo Ulivi. Photos courtesy of Chic Nonna.
The secret of this encounter is dialogue, preserving such a great legacy, circulating it and connecting with it. The Prato-based architectural firm B-Arch of Sabrina Bignami and Alessandro Capellaro flirts with breathtaking interiors and makes purposeful design choices around an authoritative statue of Cosimo I, offering a worldly experience of trans-historical caresses.
Yesterday and today blend into grand vaulted arches, capitonné velvet seating and lush floral arrangements shattering thick blocks of light.
I’MF: Chic Nonna sees its home in Palazzo Portinari Salviati, among the most historic in Florence. How does such an ancient and celebrated past translate into our contemporary?
VM: The great thing about managing the entire food & beverage offering of a unique place like Palazzo Portinari Salviati is to be able to adapt the project to the specific identity of each space, from the cafe to the cocktail bar, through to Sala Beatrice, for private events, and the gourmet restaurant. Each of these environments has its personality, from the oldest to the most contemporary, to which we have tried to pair the most suitable food proposal consistently.
I’MF: The environment has a distinct architecture. How does your business interact with this space?
VM: The Prato-based architecture firm B-Arch of Sabrina Bignami and Alessandro Capellaro had the delicate task of renovating the dining spaces of a place steeped in history but which did not want to be a museum. Here, where the original frescoes and floors are the real protagonists, lighting played a crucial role in creating an intimate, welcoming atmosphere in every room. Together with our food proposal and service, this is one of the essential elements of my idea of fine dining.
I’MF: What does it mean for you, given your long experience, to be in Florence, in contact with one of the city’s symbols?
VM: It is an honour to work in the city that adopted me many years ago. Welcoming guests from all over the world to this fabulous location is always a source of great excitement, which I have the pleasure of sharing daily with my incredible team.
I’MF: What makes the international offering?
VM: Chic Nonna was born to bring traditional cuisine and, more generally, Italian style to some of the most important tourist locations in Italy and abroad. In addition to its opening in Florence, opening a second Chic Nonnawithin the financial district in Dubai is highly anticipated, confirming an idea that meets a truly international taste.
I’MF: A new food and wine proposal embracing art for a complete experience. How do you think these two factors can evolve in the future?
VM: Mine & Yours Group, the group that oversees the offering, of which I am a part as Director of Culinary, is a company specialising in luxury hospitality. It constantly scouts new venues standing out for their uniqueness and beauty, sometimes related to art, design, or a privileged location. This was the case with the Florence and Dubai projects, and will continue to be so in the future.