Expressionism and Umbria

How Boutique Hotel Palazzo Seneca uses modern art to convey its cultural heritage of the region

art reproduction of Alberto Burri

Lazzari: Scenic impressions of the high plains of Castelluccio above Norcia

Italy is a country well known for its great masters, especially the like’s of renaissance geniuses such as Leonardo di Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli.   So who would of thought that in a 16th century palazzo, you would be introduced the genre of Italian modern art.

Art.  It’s something that guests may or may not notice when staying in a hotel.  Yet the last decade has seen art being used as an added attraction outside of the hotel room for guests to experience.  And for Palazzo Seneca, a wonderfully restored 5 star boutique hotel in the gastronomic haven of Norcia in Umbria, art plays a very important role in its philosophy and brand identity.

Art of Stefano Lazzari

Lazzari: Square and the geometry of the Golden Mean. The idea of proportion and harmony

Restoring the past with more modern perspective

With Architect Andrew Bowen taking the lead in the restoration project, his goal was to try to revive the hotel’s Umbrian character both by restoring what was already there and by carefully considering any new additions that would be required.

“We wanted to create a home-like environment within the hotel using the philosophy of Umbria’s nature and traditions as a back-drop ” – Federico Bianconi, family owner of Palazzo Seneca

italian contemporary art

Alberto Burri’s non-traditional use of materials and vibrant red colours, such as Red Plastic – 1962 offers contrasting perspectives of its meaning and significance

“As one of the connective threads that would unite this transition between old and new, an idea of a contemplative spirituality through simplicity and honesty with materials was realised” – Andrew Bowen.

By natural default, it seemed that the works of Umbrian artist Alberto Burri, one of the most important interpreters of expressionist art in the 20th century, was becoming a strong influence and inspiration.

Applying the Burri technique to art reproduction

Using the expertise of renowned art reproduction specialist, Stefano Lazzari, who not only knew Burri, but also shared the same passion for his work, sought out to reproduce Burri inspired paintings using similar materials and techniques that he had because famous for.

“The art I create in general is always inspired by the great masters of the past, of any age or gender.  My goal is always to reinterpret and recreate that unique feeling and ambience that one feels in front of an original” – Stefano Lazzari


Stefano Lazzari art

Lazzari: Shedding, exposing and renewing: A direct interpretation from Burri using some of his pictures as ploughed and cut landscapes

Overall, I believe that Palazzo Seneca has really achieved its goal in transmitting Umbrian heritage and nature through artistic culture.  I do not classify myself as an art expert, but I have to admit that I was curiously drawn to this form of modern art and the techniques that make the artwork so varied and unique in texture.

“We don’t want to be trendy for a year – we want to be elegant forever” – Federico Bianconi

My stay at Palazzo Seneca was not only memorable for its immaculate service, food and rooms, but also for its art.  And that’s an ongoing conversation that that never dies.

You can view some of the works of Alberto Burri at the following museums:

You can view works form other Italian modern artists at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London

This post is a submission to be part of Team Florens and the theme of artistic culture will be one that is discussed and debated during the Florens 2012 event.



Your hotel

To make the most of this neighbourhood, stay at the boutique hotel, Palazzo Seneca, Norcia Umbria

Nathalie Salas

Nathalie Salas is a freelance travel writer and marketing consultant based between the UK, Italy and the UAE. Pursuing her passion of boutique hotels, she reviews hotels around the world as well as helping them to improve their marketing strategies. Nathalie is Editor & Founder of travel site Perfect Boutique Hotel, writing also for, Masquerade and Global Citizen.

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