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Curtains come down on room with a view

THE Florence pensione which was the setting for part of the film A Room with a View and which was badly damaged by the car-bomb in May, is to close.

The quaint old Pensione Quisisana, literally round the corner from the Uffizi galleries, the Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio, has been a favourite with generations of British and other tourists since it opened in 1903. And it was there, in the Merchant-Ivory film of E M Forster's novel, that Lucy (Helena Bonham Carter) and her cousin Charlotte (Maggie Smith), disappointed at the lack of a view from their room, were chivalrously cheered up by George (Julian Sands) and his father (Denholm Elliott) who gave them theirs. Romance was born.

But in the early hours of 27 May, when the manageress, Giovannella Nutini Marasco, 84, was still awake doing crossword puzzles, some 200kg of explosive packed into a small Fiat parked near by blew up, killing five people in flats around, damaging the Uffizi and numerous art works and wrecking the Pensione Quisisana.

In room 22, the 'room with a view' of the film, which looked out on the arches of the Uffizi corridor, the River Arno and the hills, was a young couple from the United States, the wife six months pregnant. They were unhurt, as were most of the 60 guests who managed to pick their way out through the darkness, wreckage and dust.

The structure of the building remained sound but the floors, ceilings, fittings and furnishings were damaged, the telephone system and equipment wrecked. For the Quisisana, which already had its problems, it proved to be a death sentence.

'It would take three years to put everything in order again,' said Dante Nutini, the administrator and Mrs Marasco's brother, after doing some painful sums. 'We cannot hold out that long.' Besides, he said, they were under an eviction order from the owners of the building who were evidently not prepared to have it repaired while they were still there.