Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Italian Craftsmanship Star in Bulgari Docufilm

MILAN — The year 2024 is one of major anniversaries and initiatives for Bulgari.

The Rome-based jeweler is marking its 140th birthday, unveiling its most precious necklace to date, the Serpenti Aeterna, celebrating the opening of its first hotel in Milan 20 years ago, and is now launching a docufilm, “An Emperor’s Jewel — The Making of the Bulgari Hotel Roma” available on Amazon Prime Video beginning Friday. The premiere was held with an event at the hotel on Thursday evening and another screening will be staged in New York June 20.

Produced by Atomic Production and directed by Andrea Rovetta, the documentary weaves together history and art with the unfurling of Bulgari’s hotel in Rome until the opening event on June 8 last year.

“This docufilm offers a unique perspective on the dedication, innovation and creativity that went into making this iconic luxury hotel a reality,” said Bulgari’s chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin. “The project is a celebration of Italy‘s rich cultural heritage, leaving a lasting imprint on the hearts of all involved.” In the film, Babin underscored that the hotel “is the biggest project ever undertaken” by Bulgari, and that, for this reason, it had to be “extraordinary.” The movie will help provide “the audience with a unique insight into the Bulgari brand’s commitment to unparalleled luxury and sophistication.”

Actress and Bulgari brand ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who acted as godmother of the inauguration, was filmed while experiencing the hotel as its first guest. She is captured wearing a high jewelry necklace that marked the opening of the hotel. It features an original Roman coin with the Emperor Augustus and, set in yellow gold, it is adorned with 149 emerald beads weighing 615.04 carats, complemented by 80 buff-top emeralds and pavé-set diamonds.

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Priyanka Chopra Jonas in “An Emperor’s Jewel — The Making of the Bulgari Hotel Roma.”

Reiterating that the Bulgari hotels are “hospitality gems,” Babin said that, following “Inside the Dream,”  the brand’s first movie about the making of a Serpenti high jewelry necklace, he was “very proud to see now a second film showcasing the creation of another ‘jewel’: the Bulgari Hotel Roma.”

The production of the movie began two years before the hotel’s opening and the film highlights the work of the artisans, from the glass blowers to the weavers that contributed to its Made in Italy details, such as made-to-measure textiles created by Rubelli; Murano chandeliers by Barovier&Toso, which dates back to 1295; mosaics crafted by the Mosaic School of Friuli and Friuli Mosaic Workshop; hand-painted chinaware by Ginori 1735, and handmade terracotta tiles by Furnace Sugaroni founded in 1685 — all a testament to Italy’s artisanal legacy.

At Arte Poli, crafting the stained glass windows of the Bulgari Hotel spa in Rome.

At Arte Poli, crafting the stained glass windows of the Bulgari Hotel spa in Rome.

It took more than 50 days of filming to capture the behind-the-scenes work of the artisans and Rovetta said that the film “aimed to capture not just the construction process” of the hotel, but also “the soul of Italian craftsmanship infused into every detail. It was an honor and a big emotion for me to portray the passion, dedication and creativity of these extraordinary artisans and the profound beauty that emerges when timeless tradition meets modern luxury.”

The hotel, which stands on the very central Piazza Augusto Imperatore, spans six floors and more than 151,000 square feet, and opened after three years of careful restoration, which saw a complete overhaul to the historic building’s interior. From its terrace, the view of Rome is breathtaking, spanning from the Vatican to Villa Medici.

In the movie, a special focus is given to the statue of Augustus, which is in the hotel’s entrance vestibule. This is an original Roman sculpture from the Torlonia Collection, in Pentelic marble, and Augustus is portrayed as Jupiter with a globe held in the right hand and the scepter in the left. The statue was restored by the Fondazione Torlonia Workshop, with the contribution of Bulgari as part of a long-term collaboration with the foundation for the conservation of the most important private collection of ancient art in the world. The aim is to continue to exhibit statues from the foundation at the hotel on a yearly basis “for everyone to enjoy,” Babin said.

Bulgari Hotel in Rome

The vestibule at the Bulgari Hotel in Rome with the statue of Emperor Augustus.

courtesy of Bulgari

P’arcnouveau designed the outdoor areas and a natural scene was reproduced on the hand-painted wallpaper by the decorators of the Pictalab workshop.

The building is an example of rationalist architecture, designed by the architect Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo and built between 1936 and 1938 to host the headquarters of the Italian Social Security Agency. The renovation was operated by Carron Construction Company, which involved more than 300 employees. The Bulgari Hotels’ go-to architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel were interviewed for the film, saying they stayed away from “a philological restoration” of the building and that the design should “stand the test of time.”


The Bulgari Hotel in Rome.

courtesy image

Other interviewees include the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri; Silvio Ursini, vice president of Bulgari and founder of the Hotels division, and Niko Romito, the hotel’s chef curator.

The movie has the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Made in Italy, the Roma Municipality and the Altagamma Foundation.

The Rome-based jeweler was among the pioneers of luxury fashion and jewelry brands moving into the hospitality sector, foreseeing its potential and building it into a real business that now comprises nine units — with more to come.

Additional openings are scheduled in 2025 in the Maldives and Miami and in Los Angeles in 2026, which will flank the existing hotels in Bali, Dubai, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo, as well as Milan. Bulgari plans only for a limited rollout, as it aims to maintain a certain rarity and a high level of service. 

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