Relais La Suvera

Turin, Italy
Photo by Ladiras/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The Duke of Genoa Suite has 750 square feet of space and is dedicated to Ferdinand of Savoie.

The Duke of Genoa Suite has 750 square feet of space and is dedicated to Ferdinand of Savoie.

In 1507, the prior of Siena presented Pope Julius II with an imposing ancient fortress located near the city in Pievescola. The pope, known for his love of arts, ordered architect Baldassare Peruzzi to turn the castle into a Renaissance villa. More than 400 years later, in 1990, the villa became the Relais La Suvera, a five-star historic hotel, or dimora storia, which is open for guests from mid-April through October.

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Marchese Giuseppe Ricci, the conservator of the family’s museum and a descendant of Pope Julius II, was the designer of the villa’s historic suites, as well as the centerpiece of the courtyard: an enormous filigreed birdcage and fountain.

His dynamic daughter and business partner, Elena Ricci ([email protected]; 011-390-577-960-300), can organize everything from destination weddings in the 16th-century family chapel to special events and requests.

Living like a royal at La Suvera begins in the largest suite, named for Principessa Maria Gabriella di Savoia, an ancestor of Marchese Ricci’s wife, Principessa Eleonora Massimo. Decorated with authentic 18th-century antiques from the Savoia and Saxony families, the romantic 785-square-foot suite includes a dramatic canopy bed draped in gold damask. There is a large living room, a grand bedroom, and an L-shaped bathroom with separate shower, Jacuzzi tub and double sinks. This is the favorite suite of honeymooners visiting the Relais.

The 750-square-foot Duke of Genova Suite is dedicated to Ferdinand of Savoie, another ancestor. The suite overlooks the lemon garden and the Elsa Valley from two French windows. Inside, there are furnishings from the Duke’s days as a military commander, and they include his field canopy bed draped with the royal insignia. Original paintings of the nobility line the walls and the furnishings are family antiques. The bathroom features a lavish draped bathtub, a separate shower and a dressing room.

Decorated in rich reds, the 678-square-foot Maria Carolina Suite is named for the Bourbon princess, daughter of Francis I, the King of Two Sicilies. The centerpiece of the bedroom is the 19th-century golden canopy bed from Sicily. There are embroidered court costumes on display, as well as an evocative painting of the princess. The suite includes a living room and a bathroom with tub / shower and double sinks.

For those guests who prefer a more modern setting, the 690-square-foot Emilio Farina Suite is the choice, as it was for Ralph Lauren. The walls of the living room were entirely painted by the contemporary artist, who represented the spirits of water, air, earth and fire in swirls of color. In contrast, the bedroom, with a king-sized four poster bed, is completely white. The adjoining bath has double sinks, a bath tub and separate shower.

An intimate nest at the top of the 14th-century tower, the 300-square-foot Cesarino Room reflects the ambiance of the original medieval tower. Nineteenth-century Swedish furniture is mixed with English antique pieces under the brick-and-beamed ceiling, the oldest in the villa. Along with a king bed, there is a sitting area with sofa and chairs. The large bathroom features a tub / shower.

In addition to the villa’s 12 sumptuous suites and double rooms, there are manicured gardens, a small spa, a restaurant and the church, along with 24 rooms and suites in the restored stables and farmhouse. The hotel is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The Lemon Bar offers light lunches and informal dinners near the pool.

The Lemon Bar offers light lunches and informal dinners near the pool.

The Cerere Suite in the old farmhouse works well for a family. There are two bedrooms, one with a canopy bed and one with twins; a balcony with a view; two bathrooms; and a living room. Naturally, the 785-square-foot suite is decorated with antiques. The farmhouse faces the main courtyard.

The Annex suites, either in the restored stables or the farmhouse, are spacious and, again, filled with antiques. Each has one bedroom, a living room and a balcony. The bathrooms are large, with tub / shower. We loved the private, laid-back atmosphere, just steps away from the courtyard.

The family museum has an almost overwhelming collection of portraits, statues, art and treasures from both sides of the family. Guests and others are welcome to visit; in fact, the museum and gardens are included in the Siena circuit of museums.

This quintessential Tuscan setting is ideal for relaxing and can be an especially welcome retreat after days spent sightseeing in Rome or Florence. The pool overlooks the panorama of countryside and landscaped gardens. A Turkish bath and treatments are available in the Spa Balneum, which include massages using Décleor products and facials with OTI, an Italian line. The heart of the small spa is the hydromassage pool, which is in the restored medieval cistern.

Chef Simone Acquarelli, who has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants around Europe, is a master at creating culinary innovations from traditional Tuscan ingredients. Meals served in the Oliviera Restaurant, located in the 18th-century olive press, include tasty dishes such as Guinea fowl cappelletti, foie gras and pigeon sandwich, and suckling pig. The desserts are equally appetizing. Light lunches and informal dinners are offered in the Lemon Bar near the pool.

Elena Ricci promises that Relais La Suvera stands ready to organize bicycle or Vespa tours, wine tours, vintage or sports car experiences, ballooning, golf, truffle hunts, tennis, cooking classes or even set up attendance at the amazing Palio of Siena horse races. And for a day that’s immersed in Versace, Valentino, Armani, Tod’s, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and more, a car and driver will take guests shopping at the nearby luxury designer outlets.

Transportation to Relais La Suvera can be arranged from the Florence or Pisa airports or from the train station in Siena. Travelers with pets are welcomed with advance notice and pet sitting services can be provided.

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