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Heat, cathedrals, and German tourists clicking cameras at the Venus de Milo — Florence in the summer has a way of wearing you down. Desperate? Well, a way out exists, a fifteen-minute drive outside of the city's throbbing heart. Welcome to the Villa San Michele, where tranquility reigns, alongside more beauty than you would have ever thought possible for one hotel to contain. Around you is the sunlit quiet of the Tuscan countryside. Below you, Florence shimmers, with the Duomo emerging from the terracotta rooftops like Venus. Look familiar? In A Room with a View, the sight quite stirred George Emerson and Lucy Honeychurch to passion.
But when you're at the San Michele, it's difficult to say what's more stirring — the view, or the villa. Designed by Michelangelo, this cream and chocolate marvel was once a monastery, and many of the architectural details, somber and otherwise, have been preserved. Forbiddingly dark wooden doors sport massive metal bolts, and open into doorways still designed for people of fifteenth-century stature (in other words, duck before entering). Faded portraits of monks in bygone days still flit on the corridor walls, while Jesus gazes at the goings-on from the Last Supper fresco over the bar.
Don't let the holy fixtures scare you. There's plenty of secular distraction at the San Michele. Put on your highest heels, and dine on pigeon ravioli in the outdoor colonnade. At night, the canopied beds and massive bathtubs are not in the least suited to celibate behavior. Besides, who knew that the Renaissance monastic aesthetic would be so agreeable to our modern day notions of elegance? Carved chests, austerely shaped chairs, glazed terracotta floors. None of that clutter that you find in your run-of-the-mill 18th-century palace hotel. The decor, in fact, almost looks minimalist.
So even if you never wanted to be a Florentine Renaissance monk (and a lot of us haven't) you will love it here. Follow the winding garden trail to the pool, and drink in more of that famous view. The hotel's shuttle can whisk you to the city center's La Reppublica Square in under fifteen minutes, but after a few days here, you'll start to think that the best way to see Florence is from where you are, up high and far away.
Please note: Hotel Villa San Michele is open annually from the end of March through November.
How to get there: Hotel Villa San Michele is 10 kms. from Florence Airport and a 15 minute drive from Florence Santa Maria Novella railway station. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange airport or rail station transfers.
- 46 Rooms
- Style: Traditional Elegance
- Atmosphere: Secluded
- 2 Guest Reviews
- Belmond Villa San Michele
- Via Doccia 4
- Fiesole, Tuscany, Italy
Hotel amenities and services
- 24 hour front desk
- Free parking
- Free wi-fi
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Pet Friendly