Belmond Villa San Michele: A stunning setting that will take your breath away
Belmond Villa San Michele is the best luxury hotel in Tuscany and offers a panoramic view of Florence…
There is nothing I love more than a good view and the one from Belmond Villa San Michele is quite simply sensational. This property had a lot to live up to because I arrived almost straight from Belmond Hotel Splendio, which is located a couple of hours further north and overlooks the picturesque harbour of Portofino.
A trip to Italy that encompasses both properties means that you can explore two different areas of the country at once. While Splendido’s situation is majestic to say the least, its Tuscan cousin Villa San Michele boasts a truly spectacular vista that encompasses a sweeping view of Florence. The aspect is so impressive that it quite literally takes your breath away.
Set on the hillside near Fiesole, which is about 20 minutes outside of Florence, this old monastery offers panoramic views of the capital of the Renaissance. The familiar Belmond style layout of terraces layered into the incline, which is also apparent at Splendido and Belmond La Residencia, means the view takes centre stage from all levels.
The restaurant, gardens, swimming pool and suites all benefit from a glorious landscape that stretches into the horizon and features Florence’s famous landmarks in the centre. Belmond Villa San Michele definitely has one of the most beautiful backdrops in Europe and it is also one of the most romantic places in the world, boasting a calm and sophisticated atmosphere.
It is so romantic that the hotel even incorporates a special corner in the garden where lovers can enjoy alfresco private dining with a personal butler service. This area often plays host to couples celebrating a special occasion and it is an enchanting spot for a proposal.
Belmond Villa San Michele is a chic property that attracts cultured visitors who wish to enjoy a faultless experience. It is for these reasons that it retains so many of its client base. After just one visit, this hotel will capture your heart; it is one of the few places in the world that is worth stopping over in time and time again.
Dating from the 15th century, the façade is attributed to Michelangelo and the main building is surrounded by beautiful, colourful gardens that are kept in perfect condition throughout the changing seasons. The gardens were once nurtured by Franciscan monks; lemon trees, fragrant roses and pretty red florals are among the highlights.
It is difficult to pick a favourite area of the property because you will likely fall in love with every part of Villa San Michele. The suites are spacious, particularly the bathrooms, and most boast stunning views.
The pool is located at the top of a winding path on the highest level with lounger service and a lunchtime restaurant available. The gardens are popular for Afternoon Tea but if you had to choose a highlight the main restaurant is probably the champion of all the facilities.
The setting is just incredible and you can dine looking out of the stone arches with an uninterrupted view of Florence’s skyline.
The cuisine has a strong Italian focus and starters include the likes of warm blue lobster with avocado fondue and wild green salad dressed with a herb sauce, as well as the locally inspired vegetable layered flan, served with a tomato fondue and baby basil.
As you would expect there is a wide selection of pasta on the menu and among the best dishes are the risotto with zucchini blossoms and pearls, dressed with saffron pistils from the Abruzzo region, as well as the traditional large macaroni pasta with lobster and fresh tomatoes.
However, the seafood and meat options will also likely appeal to many and include fresh Tyrrhenian sea fish of the day in a salt crust, perfumed with wild fennel, along with charcoal grilled Florentine Chianina beef steak, served with grilled vegetables.
The extensive wine list encompasses some of the finest vintages from Italy and France, as well as other countries. You will definitely need the sommelier to guide you through the substantial book in order to find the most suitable choices for your meal.
Belmond Villa San Michele operates a shuttle bus so you can venture into Florence and the downhill journey to the city centre doesn’t take long. If this is your first time visiting Florence then a day trip is worthwhile and it will allow you to browse the many art galleries and markets.
You can also make the most of the chance to visit some of the main attractions of the city, such as the famous Santa Maria del Fiore. This domed cathedral can be seen from Villa San Michele and dominates most views of Florence as the world’s largest masonry dome. Piazza della Signoria is one of many beautiful squares to stroll through and the Ponte Vecchio, which is one of Florence’s most renowned sites, should definitely be visited.
As with all Belmond hotels, leaving the nest of luxury can prove a challenge in itself and if you have visited Florence before, you may choose to remain onsite for the entirety of your stay rather than venture into the city.
During the summer months it can be very hot, so a long day relaxing by the pool with the ability to take a cooling dip when needed will prove a wise option. However, there are also plenty of activities to try if endless sunbathing isn’t your cup of tea.
The cookery school has a brilliant reputation and expert cooking classes are offered that show you how to make the most of the region’s ingredients.
They also provide some useful tips for recreating Italian dishes on your return home. The Executive Chef Attilio Di Fabrizio leads the classes, which are small in numbers to ensure a valuable experience.
If you are planning a trip to Florence, Villa San Michele is the only place to stay for the discerning traveller who wants to experience the epitome of luxury while exploring one of the Europe’s most historical cities.
Villa San Michele takes you away from the touristy environment and welcomes guests to a refined pocket of culture and sophistication. Furthermore, there is a wonderful sense of romance and – if visiting as a couple – the ambiance will definitely have you reliving those magical moments when you fell in love for the first time.
Belmond Villa San Michele is located at Via Doccia, 4, 50014 Fiesole FI, Italy. Make a reservation by calling +39 055 567 8200 or visiting www.belmond.com/villa-san-michele-florence