Posted by: Sonali Velinker Kamat on September 02, 2015
Join the ranks of the world’s truly discerning travellers, for whom even the best hotel room is simply not enough!
In the distance, the magnificent ‘Duomo’ of Santa Maria del Fiore dominates the landscape. Endless cypress trees compete with a smattering of turrets, as hills loom, kissed by the impossibly blue skies beyond. The view from Villa Le Fontanelle is as breath-taking as the house itself. Nestled amongst olive trees and verdant gardens at 26, Via di Careggi, this is where the world traveller gets away to enjoy the feast that is Florence.
The city of David, Dante and the Duomo, Firenze is a destination par excellence for the luxe traveller with an interest in art and antiquities. Despite also being home to The St. Regis and other outposts of the world’s leading hotel chains, this romantic city offers up a far more memorable stay at its handful of vintage villas — the Villa Le Fontanelle being our pick of the lot.
At the heart of this city founded in honour of Goddess Flora, the villa maintains the unforgettable mystique of the old world, while it straddles the modernity of the new one with ease. Six well-appointed rooms offer up the charm of toile linen, brick-tiled floors and exposed beams, while also providing the convenience of amenities like automation. Each room is unique in name and design; from Orangerie and Limonaia on the lower level to the spectacular Pool Suite and majestic Torre (the tower suite) on the first floor. Terracotta hues dominate the villa, while faultlessly-selected fine white china and warm wooden surfaces add to the ambience. Exquisite fireplaces in several rooms appeal to the eye, even when the sun outside renders them useless. An attention to detail is apparent in all things, including the serviceable kitchen, where the coffee machine could well be your first port of call every morning.
While there’s a serious temptation to stay within the confines of the villa and its grounds, just to soak up the spectacular sensation of being there, how can you? Outside, the Uffizi calls — with masterpieces by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci waiting to be viewed! Make reservations to skip queues, because the lines are as imposing as the marbled walls of every basilica along the way.
Once there, bask in the beauty of Botticelli’s Venus as the moist breath of Zephyros carries her to shore, and pause to peruse Titian’s Venus of Urbino — another ravishing Renaissance beauty.
Having absorbed both art and architecture, walk down the Ponte Vecchio, where the butchers of old have made way for shiny new tenants including messrs Peruzzi and Cassetti. With jewellery laid out like pastry in a pâtisserie window, these stores along the Arno river are as delightful on the eye as they are demanding on the wallet!
While out in the city, bite into some Castagnaccio or sample tripe in tomato sauce when all the walking leaves you ravenous. Drink wine, cease any carb counting after that first mouthful of farfalle and don’t forget to pack in as much as you can as a Tuscan tourist: after all, it was the Romans who said carpe diem.