Villa San Michele and Villa La Massa – Florence, Tuscany, Italy

A Medici Lifestyle

If you’re looking for the comforts of a luxurious home, head for the spectac­ular Villa San Michele, in the cool hills of Fiesole above Florence. Its stunning ocher-colored facade is believed to be the design of Michelangelo.

Things are decidedly sumptuous inside. A 1602 fresco of the Last Supper graces the former refectory, now a lounge, but in warm weather everyone—guest or visitor—gravitates to the open-air loggia, whose sunset and twilight views of Brunelleschis Duomo and the surrounding terra-cotta rooftops make it one of the loveliest venues anywhere in Europe.

Luxuriant and fra­grant, terraced gardens engulf the villa and the converted Limonaia, a winter garden where citrus trees were kept by the monks in the cold weather. Today it’s home to the villa’s two most exclusive suites.

The notoriously hot and humid summers of Florence and the Amo Valley are virtually a world away from the grassy terrace, where the region’s most beautifully situated pool offers Piero della Francesca views.

Until recently, the San Michele was Florence’s villa-hotel supreme, but competi­tion has arrived on the other side of town at the Villa La Massa, a sumptuously renovated 16th-century property of Como’s Villa d’Este Hotel.

Located on the banks of the Amo, fif­teen minutes from the center of Florence, it offers a glimpse of Tuscan life as the Florentine aristocracy must have enjoyed it.

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