Picture this. It’s sunset, the sapphire skies above Tuscany slowly melting into swirls of orange and red as the sun swaps places with the moon. There’s a chilled glass of Chianti in your hand, no sound in your ear but the gentle swirling from the Arno river beside you.
And if you were to break your gaze away from the water, peek a glimpse across the immaculate garden – you might spot David Bowie getting hitched. Because at Villa La Massa, the Italian hotel emulating old school opulence, such an occasion indeed took place. There’s one word for hotels like this. Enchanting.
A world of old-fashioned luxury, the Villa La Massa estate consists of three separate buildings. Full of regal furnishings and gilded paintings within, these are surrounded by formal gardens and gravel paths outwards. Don’t miss a stroll through the immaculate lawns – which are most magical at sunrise, if you can drag yourself from the enormous beds.
Nature surrounds the refined terracotta walls with rolling hills and a landscape peppered with lemon trees. It’s very much a backdrop worth framing. Once the home of a Florentine nobleman, the villa was initially converted to a hotel in 1948 (with no shred of regal affluence lost in the process). The current interiors date back to 1998, when the Villa d’Este group (owners of the renowned Lake Como hotspot) welcomed La Massa to their portfolio.
Nestled firmly outside of Florence, there’s no chance of a noisy city stay. Guests are a 20 minute drive from rural paradise to the bustle of Ponte Vecchio, offering a sense of calming escape for those who prefer space and serenity. A free shuttle bus departs regularly throughout the day from the entrance, which is ideal for guests looking to hop on and off when the urge to explore calls.
Guests can either stay in the main Medici villa for rooms with an archaic feel (think four-poster beds and antique furnishings) or opt for a room in the smaller Villino annexe, which is positioned across the grounds and connected to the restaurant. The former offers a more summery feel with its pastel colour scheme, beautiful views of the main building and rather enormous bathroom. Rooms are simple but lavish – and offer all the little touches expected from a five-star property. The welcome chocolates and Helleboro toiletries (of which there are enough to stock half of Boots) all add to the sense of total indulgence.
The Il Verrocchio restaurant (where guests also enjoy a vast buffet breakfast) offers both an impressive indoor space with vaulted ceilings as well as an al fresco terrace experience. Dining outside is a must, if not simply to drink in the surrounding views of the adjacent Arno river.The menu is classic, with a host of fine dining dishes. Think local meats, fish and of course, pasta delights. Service is fantastic – we find ourselves surrounded by a small army of staff who cater to our every whim as we sip and feast through three-courses.
Must-orders include a refreshing Amberjack tartare with carrot jelly and watermelon and a silky risotto with basil and juicy raw red prawns. Desserts also offer something for every appetite, ranging from fresh fruit to a naughtier gooey chocolate cake.
For those seeking the best of both worlds, Villa La Masa is perfect. A short drive from Florence, its rural location gives the advantage of being able to escape the city’s madness and delve into a world of tranquil charm. Although, with a spa, pool, gorgeous grounds and tempting Italian dishes on offer – you might never want to set a foot outside in the first place.
Rooms start from £460 per night. To find out more and make a booking, phone +39 055 62611 or visit villalamassa.com.