50

Unforgettable
Years

In One Of The World's Most Magnificent Cities, Rome Cavalieri Celebrates 50 Years By Myatt Murphy

THE ROME CAVALIERI, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, hasn't seen everything. It only seems that way. For half a century, this classic hotel—situated in a 15-acre park—has welcomed celebrities and witnessed history from its unique perch overlooking Rome and Vatican City. A proper accounting of its existence would include a thousand points of interest—such as the day the hotel's signature restaurant, La Pergola, was named the only three-Michelin-star restaurant in Rome, or when sofas originally designed for Karl Lagerfeld's Parisian home were placed into two of the hotel's suites, or the month Leonardo DiCaprio called the hotel home while filming Gangs of New York in Rome. We could never capture Rome Cavalieri's full history on a time line, but here's a colorful sampling of some of the hotel's most memorable moments.

START

80A.D.

Gladiators roam the Coliseum, just a short distance from where the Rome Cavalieri now stands. Almost 2,000 years later, the hotel arranges Gladiator Training, a course from the Gladiatorial School that allows participants to study ancient combat techniques while donning customary gear, including a tunic, Roman sandals, gloves, and training swords.

1724

Artist Giambattista Tiepolo paints one of his legendary triptychs (today valued at $8 million). More than 250 years later, the work is installed in the lobby of Rome Cavalieri.

1963

June: The hotel debuts with Conrad N. Hilton and U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson there to celebrate.

Summer: On a sweltering day in Rome, the hotel showcases a new, groundbreaking way to surpass guest expectations. It's the first hotel in the city to feature air-conditioning.

In this period, Andy Warhol creates the first of his Dollar Signs silk screen. An original series of the work later (and still) hangs in the Rome Cavalieri penthouse suite (left).

1960s

With the Rome movie business in full swing (led by the success of Cinecittà Studios, the company behind Ben Hur, Roman Holiday, and Three Coins in the Fountain), Rome Cavalieri becomes the go-to place for the glamour set as Elizabeth Taylor (as the iconic Cleopatra, above), Sidney Poitier (below), Burt Lancaster, and others use the hotel as a home base.

1970s

The vast and lavish Salone dei Cavalieri—the hotel's grand ballroom—becomes a popular backdrop for the films of Italian directors, most notably Dino Risi, along with the hotel's gardens, swimming pools, and restaurant La Pergola (left).

1980s

The hotel continues to evolve, adding unforgettable touches every year. New furnishings include prestigious artworks, such as a Venetian landscape painting by renowned artist Giuseppe Zaïs. This work, considered to be Zaïs's masterpiece, can be seen hanging behind the hotel's reception desk (right).

1991

Rome Cavalieri hosts the G7 Summit and NATO meetings, welcoming heads of state from around the globe. At the hotel, an agreement for mutual security—the Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation—is issued.

2005

A $50 million improvement—a redesign of all the hotel's public spaces and guest suites—is completed. Antonio Tantardini's statue The Kiss (right) is now one of more than 1,000 pieces in Rome Cavalieri's extensive art collection.

2009

The multi-Emmy-award-winning Mad Men television series airs "Souvenir," an episode set at the hotel that depicts it as it appeared in the 1960s. Don Draper never had it so good.