Sure, it may be cliché but who among us hasn’t dreamt of living on a verdant Tuscan estate? Even if that hasn’t been your long-held dream, as soon as your car enters the gate, gravel crunching under the tires, you’ll feel a sense of calm wash over you. Built in the 16th century for a member of Florence’s royal Medici family, Villa La Massa—sister hotel to Lake Como’s legendary Villa d’Este—stands proudly on the banks of the Arno River, just six miles from the Medici’s famous Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Here, the fragrant gardens are planted with olive and lemon trees that perfume the air. In the summer, the outdoor swimming pool beckons you into the water for a dip on a hot afternoon. This bucolic country estate may be just twenty-five minutes from the center of Florence, but it feels a world away.
If there’s one thing you must absolutely do, it’s starting your evening with an aperitivo at Bar Mediceo.
Painted a cheery shade of yellow, the noble villa welcomes you in with its warm tones and plush furnishings. Entering the ground-floor lobby lounge, which is laid out like an internal courtyard with balconies on the upper floors, you can imagine what it must have been light during the Renaissance, when nobles peered down at the arrivals from above. There are just 41 rooms and suites, including the new, 6,500-square-foot Casa Colonica, done up in classic Florentine décor, with antiques, rich textiles, and Arno views. Some rooms have original wooden beamed ceilings or terracotta floors—details that lend the hotel an unmistakable sense of place.
Start your day with breakfast in Il Verrocchio, where a gourmet buffet offers up yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, cured meats, pastries, and eggs made to order. Plenty of hotels pride themselves on their staff, but at Villa La Massa the waiters are so attentive that by your second day, they’re likely to remember how you take your coffee. By night, the restaurant glows with candles that cast a romantic light. The dining room has an original fireplace, white-naped tables, and silver candelabras—perfect for a romantic evening or celebratory dinner. The chef uses olive oil from the estate’s trees and fruit, vegetables and herbs from the garden.
If there’s one thing you must absolutely do, it’s starting your evening with an aperitivo at Bar Mediceo. This little red jewel box of a lounge looks like something straight out of a Wes Anderson film, with a gilded Rococo bar, a gold chandelier, and inviting red armchairs positioned around marble-topped tables. Head bartender Federico Martinetto stirs and shakes up tasty concoctions incorporating liqueurs by Santa Maria Novella, the famed Florentine perfumer and tea room. Like the villa, the recipes for Santa Maria Novella’s elixirs date back to the Renaissance, when monks crafted tinctures using local and exotic herbs and botanicals. For a floral twist on the classic Aperol Spritz, try the Rose Spritz made with Santa Maria Novella rose elixir, prosecco, Aperol, and lemon juice. Salute!