Luxury in Tuscany

poggiale

The 14th-century Villa Il Poggiale, near San Caciano Val di Pesa in Chianti, less than 12 miles from Florence, was the elegant country home of a Roman family. This Dimora Storica (historic house) offers 24 antiques-filled guest rooms and suites, each decorated differently—we dreamed of romance in Junior Suite 11 on the ground floor, with its sumptuous canopied bed, silk curtains and Old World luxury. Junior Suite 3 is also downstairs and opens to a terrace. One flight up (there is no elevator), Junior Suite 20 is big and rustic, with beamed ceilings and a grand bathtub. Number 19 is a two-story apartment, perfect for a family, with two bedrooms (one has three single beds), two baths and a kitchen.

Villa Il Poggiale has an intimate restaurant, open only to guests during the season. The lovely grand salon is the perfect place to read or relax with a glass of wine, and the stone-columned loggia (lodge) is perfect for sitting in the shade to soak up the heady Tuscan air. Each guest is given his or her own personal key to the villa, so it’s easy to pretend you’re at home.

Ask Monica Cozzi, reservations manager, to arrange for babysitting service, cooking classes in La Tinaia with chef Jeff Sickman or tours of local wineries. Owner Nathanel “Tinto” Vitta (011-39-335-605-6828), who spent childhood summers here, is a charming host who loves sharing the nooks and crannies of the house with visitors. Tip: The entire villa can be rented for a country wedding.

Villa La Massa is five miles from the center of Florence, but it’s a world away from the bustle of the city. Set along a bend in the placid Arno River, this Medici-style villa has 35 rooms and suites arranged around a frescoed atrium in the main building. We stayed in Deluxe Double 44; on the third floor, it is a corner room with views of the river from all the windows. We also loved the wonderful Junior Suite 45 next door, with its wall of glass that extends from bedroom to bathroom. This one can connect to number 44 or 46 to add a living room. Room 49, a deluxe double, offers a view of the Duomo in Florence in the distance. Suite 32, on the piano nobile (noble floor), has a separate living room and view of the river, as well as a divided marble bath and dressing room. The bedroom has a frescoed ceiling and separate entrance.

Villa La Massa, a sister property of Villa d’Este on Lake Como, offers the excellent Il Verrocchio restaurant in its Old Mill Building, along with a wine cellar for tastings and two noteworthy suites: number 7, with two private terraces overlooking the river, and the river-view Junior Suite 6 (the suites feature a connecting option). on the river with a Junior Suite and two double bedrooms, is good for a family or group of friends. We hear that David Bowie and Iman married in Villa La Massa’s private chapel, where either a religious or civil ceremony can be arranged.

General Manager Marco Montagnani, his assistant, Luisa Diaz, and Front Office Manager Tamara Trambusti typically are available to assist with VIP reservations and requests.

Once the home of Machiavelli, Villa Mangiacane is a 500-year-old masterpiece designed by architect Giorgio Vasari. About seven miles from Florence, the villa is owned by Glyn David Cohen, a South African, who bought the property in 2001 and has restored it wonderfully. Set amid olive groves and vineyards and with a view of Florence from the veranda, Mangiacane has 26 rooms and suites, including the main villa and a seven-room vineyard villa. The furniture is eclectic, combining southern African design with French and Italian antiques. Rent the whole main villa (eight rooms) for an intimate wedding.

In the main villa, we liked the five rooms that open onto the main terrace, including Suite 3, with its loft bedroom and ground-floor living room. Otherwise, ask for the two-bedroom Terrace Suite, also with a loft. Number 4 is slightly bigger, with a Jacuzzi tub and corner windows that let in ample daylight. For a group traveling together, take all five terrace rooms and the terrace becomes their own private space. The 492-square-foot Royal Suite is one of those amazing rooms you never forget—the main door opens into a giant marble bathroom, with two showers, and a roofed spa tub reminiscent of the Bernini baldacchino in St. Peter’s. The suite’s bedroom, overlooking the garden, features an absolutely gigantic silver bed—your client will need navigation equipment to locate his or her partner.

Naduschka Spa at Mangiacane is elegant and well equipped, with three treatment rooms.

Contact Silvia Piazzini for anything and everything; Joan Miquel (Mobile: 011-39-335-879-1880) is the general manager. Both are reachable at 011-39-055-829-0123.

The Grand Hotel & La Pace in the Tuscan district of Montecatini Terme (in Pistoia) has opened a new health center. The 6,400-square-foot spa facility has a heated indoor pool and separate wet area with Rasul bath and a relaxation corner for guests to use before and after their sessions. There are also seven treatment rooms, a gym and a private spa suite with its own Rasul bath and Jacuzzi. The Natural Health Center personalizes treatments for guests, and the professional Beauty Farm uses herb extracts, mud and wine therapy to encourage natural rest and relaxation.

The property, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, has 130 rooms, including 28 suites  Note: The hotel will be closed from November 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010.

For more information, visit www.grandhotellapace.com.

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