Ciro Cassan has been the concierge of the Due Torri Hotel in Verona for many years. Guests turn to him with all sorts of special requests and to ask for advice on how to make the most of their stay in the city. Today he tells us a few anecdotes and reveals some of the secrets of his job.
Do you remember your first day as concierge?
Of course. It was 1997 and this year I’ll be celebrating 25 years here. It was a “normal” day in which I responded to clients’ requests, offered advice about the city, about restaurants and tours and so on. It wasn’t my very first day, I was already working in the hotel. I was attracted by its closeness to my house – I used to live a ten-minute walk away – and I applied for a job at reception. There were no vacancies, so I was taken on as a bellboy. Even doing that job I often found myself responding to guests’ requests for information. Then one day, bang in the middle of the busy opera season, the manager, who knew I could speak English and had a smattering of German, asked me to help him at the reception desk. Being near the desk, I’d already had the chance to watch my colleagues at work, so it was easy to learn to handle check-ins and check-outs. I was very keen to learn and my attitude was rewarded when they promoted me to concierge. I’m grateful to the great professionalism of my colleagues at reception who allowed me to go from being a bellboy to a receptionist/concierge without too many problems.
What’s a typical day in the life of the concierge?
When I get to the hotel, I immediately take over from the reception area which works in close collaboration with the conciergerie. I go through the emails that contain the most important, urgent requests, then my colleagues and I plan our work for the day ahead. The next step is to contact restaurants – our own, first and foremost, regarded as one of the finest in the Verona area – tourist guides and the wine cellars that organise tastings in the Valpolicella and other activities. In the course of the day, I interface with many different people: the manager – who welcomes the guests most in the public eye, such as heads of state – the chef, the maître, housekeeper and so on.
The concierge is the hotel’s “ambassador” and “visiting card”. What are the values you wish to convey to your guests and how do you look after them?
It’s important, first of all, to understand why a client is in the city. For business? For a concert? Or for other reasons? Once I understand their needs, I can meet them to the full. I’m from here, I’m very familiar with the area, and I can offer guests the best advice. And I don’t work on my own: we are a close-knit team, all committed to offering the best experience possible.
Can you remember an “impossible” or very special request which you were able to meet with kindness and creativity?
One year we had just a few days to organise a Middle Eastern princess’s wedding. I remember huge tricks loaded with prayer mats, transport by limousine, and thousands of details that we had to remember. We booked a luxury villa in the Valpolicella. We got a patisserie in Verona to create small chocolate pyramids filled with spices brought especially by the bride’s mother. We laid on a banquet that respected all the princess’ desires and family traditions. It was an extremely interesting experience.
The famous singers who come to Verona to perform at the Arena – I wouldn’t reveal their names for anything in the world – sometimes have unique needs: we have covered the walls of one suite with posies of violets, we have gone looking for bottles of mineral water of a particular brand that was very hard to find, contacting supermarket managers directly. I personally took one celebrity to Juliet’s house – which is situated in a pedestrian precinct – in an armoured minivan, acting as her guide throughout. We have welcomed whole football teams: on one occasion some players had us order special mega-screens that were much larger than our own. In their free time they wanted to play online in multiplayer mode with faraway friends and relatives. We were happy to make them happy.
In a hotel with an international clientele like the Due Torri, you come into contact with people from all over the world. How do you attune yourself to different cultures? Can you give us some examples of positive interaction?
Years of experience help me to relate to the various nationalities and religions. Being professional is fundamental, but what counts most is the type of person you are. It’s not a job that suits everyone, it demands passion and dedication. Clients only return if they’re satisfied and I’m happy to say that some of them have been coming for 20 or 30 years. It’s a cycle: grandparents bring their grandchildren, who then grow up and bring their own children. Our guests are also somewhat sophisticated, people who live in villas and dream locations, but they all feel really a home with us. Many of them came back to stay after the pandemic. They were very moved and even embraced us all. Italian and international top managers who come to town for conventions and congresses are fond of our service and feel at home here.
What do guests appreciate most about the Due Torri Hotel?
It’s as if the Due Torri were a castle – and it actually is housed in an old palazzo where you can breathe in history – in which guests have the whole staff at their disposal, a sort of personal court. It’s no coincidence that we have actual royal families as guests. I remember their arrivals perfectly in every detail and, at the same time, their exquisite kindness.
What are the most frequent requests you receive? And which tours and experiences do you most recommend?
Guests often ask to organise private dinners and book one of our rooms to enjoy greater intimacy. In these cases, we offer them a room on the first floor or even the Arena Casarini, with its distinctive and spectacular decorations by one of Verona’s greatest 20th-century painters. Then there are our tours, especially in the Valpolicella in which we lay on lunch in the vineyards and organise visits to the wine cellars: Guests love discovering where wines are made. Or else we take them to Lake Garda with a driver and often a guide to tell them all about the Verona area.