Home / HOTEL REVIEWS / Luxury Hotels / LUXURY HOTELS: Villa La Massa, Candeli, Italy   

LUXURY HOTELS: Villa La Massa, Candeli, Italy

It is almost like looking at a Renaissance painting; a villa surrounded by orange groves and poplars, its golden walls reflected in the River Arno running past its door. In fact there is something about the villa which reminds me of the one in the background of Leonardo De Vinci's "Annunciation. The villa wasn't quite built when Leonardo painted his picture however. It was 1525 when the wealthy Landini family commissioned the construction of two houses on the banks of the Arno and filled them with art and books and all the trappings of nobility.

The soul of the Renaissance lingers here still. Staying at this serene, secluded villa a mere six kilometres from the frenzy that is Florence in tourist season, it is easy to imagine myself a member of a noble Florentine family. Here to escape the heat in my own private villa surrounded by gardens and cooled by gentle breezes off the river below the terrace.

suite exclusive
the verrocchio restaurant
the arno living room
the swimming pool
the lobby

At night I fling the windows of my suite open and hear the frogs croaking on the river bank below, in the morning the birds wake me. It's all very bucolic and beautiful. There is a shuttle service into Florence, or you can go by private car but it is very tempting to do nothing at all. Botticelli's Venus? Seen it. Michelangelo's David. Done. Brunelleschi's dome?Tick. The Ponte Vecchio? Crossed. Yep, I think I'll just stay here and watch the river flow; lazy and languid at la Massa.

Of course when you do go into the city Villa la Massa can organise priority entrance to the Uffizi and any number of private tours. Or you could take a day touring the wineries of the nearby Chianti Rufina region and the Tuscan villages in the nearby hills.

The villa has been owned by many great families; the Landinis were followed by the Rinuccinis and later it was even owned by a Russian, aristocrat Countess Belinska, when by all accounts its old stone wall saw some very risqué goings on.

Now a member of Leading Hotels of the World, the villa became a hotel in 1948 and since 1998 its big sister has been the shimmering Villa D'Este, Lake Como. The refurbishment of its 37 rooms and suites was lovingly overseen by Roberta Droulers (wife of the legendary Jean Marc Droulers who stepped down as CEO of Villa D'Este last year) and all of the luxury and service you expect at Villa D'Este are found here too.
No wonder the rich and famous have always sort sanctuary at Villa la Massa.

No wonder the rich and famous have always sort sanctuary at Villa la Massa. As I sit at my table on the terrace I realise I've seen a black and white photo of Gregory Peck in just this spot. The villa has seen many famous guests Clark Gable, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor -all the Hollywood royalty came here. I stroll around the 20 acres of garden and my feet crunch on the gravel as I walk past the little chapel where David Bowie and Iman got married.

I wander on past the children' playground (yes, families are warmly welcomed here) down to the olive grove from which the villas olive oil is made and past the vegetable garden. I cross the car park - one Ferrari, one Masserati in residence this morning - and back around the main villa where Executive Chef Andrea Quagliarella beloved herb garden and roses are to be found.

The ebullient Quagliarella was chef at Villa D'Este for 25 years and bring the same Italian flare to his new home from home. Even the plainest pizza he helps us make during a kids cooking session (caramelized onion and a little oil only) tastes divine. So it is a treat one evening to sit on the terrace of Il Verrocchio restaurant, the Arno inky black beneath us and enjoy his creative cooking.

A special wine tasting in the villa's private cellar is another highlight, with food matched perfectly to the wine (and you thought it should be the other way around...).

The rooms in Villa la Massa are a feast of deep reds and intricate brocades against icy blue walls. I recommend the Junior Top Suites, not the most expensive suites at La Massa but with wooden beamed ceiling, wrought iron canopied beds and wide windows with a view out to the gardens and swimming pool below. For the ultimate stay pick the recently renovated Arno or Presidential Suite in the smallest villa - 'villino', with their own private gardens overlooking the river, fresh olive green and mauve furnishings and vast white marble bathrooms. The villino has 5 other rooms so for those after the ultimate in privacy you can rent the entire villa.

Check in: Via della Massa 24, Candeli, 50012 Florence, Italy
Ultimate Luxury: Suite with it with its own private garden
Most Indulgent Moment: A Jacuzzi in your own walled garden of the Presidential Suite.
Insider Secrets: You never know who will be coming to stay.teh ay we left model Yasmin Le Bon (wife of Simon) and a group of equally glamorous girlfriends were coming to take over the villa as part of a vintage road rally through the Tuscany countryside. Le Bon drove a 1928 Bugatti.
The Little Things: The wine therapy treatment in the spa is another use for the fine Chianti wines.
Junior Luxies: Absolutely. Villa La Massa makes children VERY welcome. Within it grounds you'll find a children's playground and room to play. The hotel also organises tailor-made tours and activities -learning to make pizza with the chef being a highlight.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Links: www.lhw.com, www.villalamassa.com
Hilary Doling, 27/3/12
Take the Luxury Poll
69% of voters want
in flight WI-FI.
qoute Find what brings you joy and go there.
Jan Phillips

join the club

Those who read this also read.
HOTELS:Mondrian, London
HOTEL GROUPS: Morgans Hotel Group
CRUISE: Emerald Sky
TRAVEL: Morocco