Ferdinando Ruggieri with his sons Lucia, Marialuisa e Innocenzo
“Elegance can be learned, style cannot…”
Innocenzo Lorenzo Ruggieri, born in 1849 in Abruzzo, moved to Cagliari with his family in 1886 and set up various commercial activities in the city’s Marina district. His emporium in the Portico di Sant’Antonio had everything from fabrics to paintings, jewellery and accessories, needles and thread, skeins of wool, suitcases and more.
His legacy was continued by his eleventh son, Ferdinando Ruggieri, a lover of boxing, and his wife Anna Pirlo, a mother and tireless worker, who dedicated themselves in particular to the flourishing retail and wholesale trade of cloths and fabrics in the Marina district.
Ferdinando, with the help of his wife and his four children, Ruggero, Lucia, Marialuisa and Innocenzo, also branched into the construction sector and in 1973 officially opened the Sardegna Hotel.
Ferdinando’s sons, pioneers of ready-to-wear fashion in Cagliari in the 1960s, increased the scope of their commercial activities with great skill and passion, managing 12 prestigious clothing, footwear and accessories stores stocking the best national and international brands.
Ferdinando’s eldest son, Ruggero, gained a degree in business studies and was first an athlete and then President from 1983 to 2009 of Amsicora, the oldest sports club in Sardinia (whose stadium was home to Gigi Riva’s Cagliari soccer team, which won the Serie A league in 1969-70). He managed the hotel from its opening, contributing significantly to the development of tourism in Cagliari.
In 1989, focusing on other business ventures, Ruggero handed over management of the hotel to his brother Innocenzo, also a business graduate, who from a young age had excelled in sport, in particular athletics, winning the Sardinian overall record and the Italian university title in the 400 metre hurdles, the Italian university title in the 4x100m relay, 25 Sardinian titles in various disciplines, including 2 Sardinian overall decathlon titles and various titles in the 100, 200 and 400 metre sprints and relays, in addition to being called to train for the national team.
Innocenzo, known to all in Cagliari as Lilli, had a strong instinct for business and great determination. Over the years, he invested in upgrading the hotel by improving the common areas and rooms with great attention to detail, assisted by his nephew Gianluca and his sister Marialuisa (owner of the prestigious boutique Seventyfive for over fifty years), wife of Giorgio Mazza, who was the owner of the most important cinemas in Cagliari. With her keen aesthetic sense, Marialuisa helped to furnish the renovated Sardegna Hotel with quality antique furniture, making it a stylish and modern 4-star hotel.
Marialuisa’s son, Gianluca Mazza, a lover of sports and nature, has been managing the family business and the Hotel since 1994. A distinguished tennis player and a graduate in Economics and Business, he has preserved the efficiency and family feel of the hotel in an ambience characterised by care for detail and the highest professional standards.
The La Scala restaurant, a showpiece of the hotel, has become increasingly popular over the years and has become known, also among the locals, for its wholesome fresh local ingredients, skilled chefs and polite staff.
With the same signature style, in 1992 the Ruggieri family bought and renovated the Antico Caffè, the city’s most prestigious historical café. Opened in 1855 in Piazza Costituzione at the foot of the Bastion of St. Remy, this café has been restored to its former glory and is protected by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. Still today, as in the past, this literary café, awarded the highest accolade by Gambero Rosso (3 cups and 3 coffee beans) among the 11 best coffee bars in Italy, is part of the history and life of Cagliari.