At first it was a reception center for shipwrecked people: it was 1870. his land was worth 75 cents an acre. It was then a coconut plantation, quickly converted over the next decade to more profitable crops, most notably avocados. In the end explosion of the twentieswith the arrival of industrialists and large hotels, a growth that even the hurricane of 1926 and the Great Depression could not stop. Miami Beach Boom which is often confused with Miami, a separate municipality on the shores of Biscayne Bay. also born at the end of the nineteenth century with the advent of the railway and the creation of the Government Cut shipping canal.
Sitting on a bench in South Pointe Park, a few steps from the pier, I watch a huge cruise ship stroll by: right where land once was. Guests on board lean out and say hello, finding someone to answer them. Of course, only on my side, because on the other side is Fisher Island, an ultra-luxury oasis accessible by boat, helicopter or seaplane. Look but don’t touch. As does the even more exclusive Star Island, a few meters away is the artificial island home to the villas of Naomi Campbell, Gloria Estefan and Will Smith, to name three: with luck – and security approval – You can pass in front of the gate, but without stopping.
Curiosity is the watchword. But this applies only to the universe of VIPs, aka tinted Lamborghini windows, on which the gaze of passers-by is shattered. Curiosity, at least as I understand it, is 360 degrees. Yes, because before me, still standing in South Pointe Park, everything appears within a few minutes: first of all, skates, lots of skates, bicycles and skateboards. People who play sports dress in a variety of ways. from micro bikinis to oversized tracksuits. A group of young people practicing yoga on the grass, two very hippie men painting the same canvas, a girl who has tied a rubber band between two trees and is trying to walk on it while balancing.
There are people of all ages and all nationalities.. Who does the most disparate things. But it’s incredible how an invisible string runs through this multifaceted collage, uniting everything. giving the picture a bizarre sequence. “When I arrived in Miami in 1990, I was immediately fascinated by its contrasts,” says Renzo Rosso of his home’s penthouse. Hotel Pelican, recently reopened after two years of renovations. “I was walking down Ocean Drive and saw elderly Americans who came to spend the winter in Florida. And also models who were photographed on the beach using the wonderful light.” Therefore, he decided to buy a hotel, which became a standard in elite society.
Located at 826 Ocean Drive, emblem of the Art Deco district and is considered one of the first boutique hotels in the world.: a magnificent three-story building with a panoramic terrace, which has no equal in the area. “The attic was divided into two parts, I was on one side and Mickey Rourke was on the other. And two blocks away lived Gianni Versace, who bought his villa: we had breakfast together and followed the work“, the founder of Diesel reveals to us again, before handing over the floor to his son Andrea, who took care of the renovation work. “I explored vintage stores and found beautifully preserved iconic items. So we started rethinking the numbers“
There are 32 in total, including 7 suites, 6 with sea views and, of course, a fantastic penthouse. Each room is inspired by a cinematic theme.from which it takes its name: Old Glory, Go Bananas, People from the 50s or even Lust in Space, Green Boo and Executive Zebra. As if emphasizing the diversity of Miami.. On the ground floor, the Pelican Café stands out, the flagship of the structure, open from breakfast until after dinner, with cuisine entrusted to an Italian chef and a wide selection of wines and cocktails. Among other things, it was lunch time. I order spaghetti with clams and, looking at Ocean Drive, I continue to enjoy the contrasts of the Magic City: someone eats a hamburger, someone drinks a smoothie.
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Junk food side, healthy side. Classifying this place is an impossible task.. From the muscular beach, a few meters away, Caribbean music plays, then hip-pop, then reggaeton. I’m almost losing my bearings. And so I go out: the weatherman predicted possible rain, but the sky seems quite clear. “It’s summer here all year round”– a boy from the staff whispers to me when I look up. And in fact he is right. I get in the car, cross the bridge that connects Miami Beach to Miami, and head straight towards the Design District. an innovative district where creativity reigns among art galleries and luxury boutiques. A feeling of complete excitement, something is always being born.
As in Wynwood, a few kilometers to the south, once an industrial center and today one of the most memorable areas of the city: I enter a kind of open-air museum, hundreds of murals are just waiting to appear on tourists’ Instagram feeds. I take out my smartphone and immortalize a very life-like version of Yoda. STOP Wars and I realize how rich the colors are in all the photos I took in Miami: from the green of the palm trees to the red of the fire hydrants, Each shade is extremely intense. After the inevitable visit to Little Havana, the Latin heart of Florida with the legendary Calle Ocho, heading to South Beach again as it gets dark.
There’s no shortage of things to do: Japanese fusion dinner at Bâoli, some jazz at The Betsy, or even an NBA game against The Heat. I’m already thinking about the next day on an excursion to the Everglades Park, on a seaplane among alligators and mangroves, and a visit to two excellent museums located next to each other: the Perez, dedicated to contemporary art, and the Philip and Patricia Frost, which hosts exhibitions dedicated to science and technology. And while my mind wanders down Collins Avenue I walk past the Haddon Hall Hotel and am reminded of a project by photographer Naomie Harris. who spent some time there a few years ago after discovering that the establishment offered cheap apartments for retirees.
So he began to immortalize their daily life: from dinners overlooking the sea to gymnastics in the pool, going through social moments such as dancing and bingo. Stopping in front of the Pelican, two models pass by, probably invited to some luxury club in South Beach, frequented by world-famous singers, Hollywood actors and sports stars. However Miami can be everything because it allows itself the freedom to be everything. Almost never missing a beat, even if it’s over the top: the tempo is constantly changing, but the final melody is smooth and certainly captivating. I go up to the terrace, enjoying the picture as a whole, even its – seeming – contradictions.
And the words of Renzo Rosso come to mind: the bewitching magic of contrasts.