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Rome Italy Hotel Review - Hotel Hassler Villa Medici, Rome

by Wade Rowland - Part 1
Hotel Hassler Rome Italy hotel review Roberto E. Wirth
President & General Manager
Hotel Hassler Villa Medici, Rome

Roberto Wirth, general manager of the legendary Hotel Hassler Villa Medici in Rome, is the very soul of Italian warmth and congeniality. You can think of him as the Marcello Mastroianni of the hotel business. His career has been devoted to the art of making other people comfortable and at ease.

And yet he leaves you feeling twinges of inadequacy. Not simply because as a relatively young man he's in charge of so admired an institution as the Hassler, or even because he's fluent in German and English as well as Italian; after all multilingualism is a not-uncommon accomplishment among European businessmen.

What makes all of Mr. Wirth's considerable achievements so remarkable is that he was born deaf. It's one thing to learn to lip read and to speak, as Mr. Wirth did, in your native tongue if you're hearing-impaired; it is quite another to learn to converse in foreign languages.

This of course is not something you learn from the urbane Mr. Wirth, but from the hotel's public relations officer, who remains in awe of the man despite an association of several years.

You learn the basic biography, as well; that Mr. Wirth is the scion of a family of Swiss hoteliers, whose father Oscar Wirth in 1938 tore down the original, dark and labyrinthine Hassler and built a modern luxury hotel behind a facade that replicated the original. That, on Mussolini's orders, he named it the Villa Medici Hassler didn't sound Italian enough for il Duce. That, after the war, he rechristened it with its former name, though many Romans still know it as simply the Villa Medici. (The sixteenth century Medici villa is in fact just a few steps up the street.) That little Roberto entered the world in a room in the nearby Hotel Eden, which was at one time sistered to the Hassler and connected by a tunnel.

When Oscar died in 1968 his wife, Carmen, took over the hotel as regent, while Roberto attended Cornell University and interned in management at hotels around the world. Roberto assumed the position of general manager in 1982; his mother occupies a suite at the Hassler when she's not at the family estate in Umbria.

Continue Hotel Hassler, Rome Italy Review
Piazza Trinità dei Monti, 6 - 00187 Roma
Telefono +39 06 699340 - Fax +39 06 6789991   
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