“Our stay here was a heavenly pause.” So reads the latest jotting in the oversized guest book at Villa La Massa, a splendidly secluded hotel that is pride of place in Bagno a Ripoli, a commune of Florence. Villa La Massa occupies a Medici villa that dates back to the 14th century and ranks as one of Italy’s most dignified villas, one of the finest hotels in the country, and the place David Bowie celebrated his wedding.
The hotel, on the banks of the Arno River overlooking the Chianti hills, feels like nothing else exists beyond the Tuscan countryside. And yet, the historic centre of Florence is a 20-minute courtesy shuttle to and from Ponte Vecchio. The Villa d’Este Group (which also operates the eponymous hotel in Como) acquired the 22-acre property—dotted with floral gardens, apple orchard, lemon and olive groves—in the ’90s, and has maintained the classical Renaissance style: reams of fine brocades and velvets, Pietra Serena staircases and columns, marbled bathrooms, wrought-iron fittings, antique furnishings, vaulted ceilings, and plenty of archways.
Villa La Massa comprises various historic outbuildings that make up the 51 suites. Villa Nobile, Il Mulino, Villino, Limonaia, and tucked off the entrance to the grounds, across from the estate’s chapel, is Casa Colonica, originally a farmhouse and now, after a full-scale year-long restoration, a stand-alone four-suite villa with all the modern conveniences and technology.
Soaking it all up la dolce vita-style begins with breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Arno. Daylight hours are spent lounging at the outdoor swimming pool and at the spa (which features a Turkish bath, cold water and sensory showers, sauna, steam and fitness rooms) and lunching al fresco at Bistrot Toscano. Come aperitivo hour, the red-painted Medicean Bar, stocked with Santa Maria Novella liqueurs, sets the scene for cocktail classics, while dining at Il Verrocchio restaurant is feasting on Tuscan specialities—tartare di chianina, ribollita (bread and vegetable soup), pappardelle al ragù di cinghiale (pasta with wild boar ragu), and bistecca alla Fiorentina sliced tableside and accompanied by a wine selection of prodigious depth.
Villa La Massa, open seasonally from March to November, is for those who seek authenticity and appreciate the finer details. This is a grand hotel, one that executes on the subtleties of understated elegance.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter here.