Villa Mangiacane has been on my travel wish list for the past two years. It has only been open to the public since 2002 but has been getting so many positive reviews (including a feature in the June Travel & Leisure), that it is giving Villa San Michele in Fiesole (still an amazing place) a run for the money when it comes to high-end hotel villas outside the city of Florence.
This was a perfect place for a short getaway that is close enough to Florence (20 minute drive – you can drive in right to the center or take one of the hotel’s shuttles but the latter is limited) to get your shopping, cultural or restaurant fix satiated. The 15th century villa in Tuscany, once home to the Macchiavelli family, was restored meticulously in 2000 to be a private residence by Glynn Cohen, a South African who happens to own the largest transport company in Sub Saharan Africa. No detail was left behind – walk through property you will see. We particularly liked the mezuzah at the door entrance to the Villa.
There is a beautiful spa on property (we didn’t have time to test it out), a cellar for private parties, two pools (never saw a soul by the pool), a gym (again, never bothered – we preferred to eat or shop with the time we had), an herb garden, on-site restaurant and, of course, the 600 or so acres of vineyards. Other than the restaurant, we didn’t feel a need to make use of the facilities. We wanted simply to relax and taken in the beautiful Tuscan countryside.
You can stay in the Main Villa or Vineyard Villas on the property (there are 29 rooms, I believe). We stayed in a duplex on the top floor of the Main Villa sharing an immense terrace, where dinners are often held in summer, with a few other guests staying there. Views are beautiful and the whole place evokes a sense of calm. Wifi is provided throughout property but, as we learned in Italy, it can be very unreliable. It did not work at all when we were there but learned that rodents may have eaten the wires.
THE LAST WORD: I couldn’t resist checking out the Hotel Lungarno and Hotel Savoy (part of the Rocco Forte Collection who has excellent hotels) while in Florence. Lungarno is located off the Arno River (one of the few hotels that is) and is an intimate, well-designed hotel that has a loyal following. The Savoy, right in the heart of the city, is also a contemporary high-end property known for their service that I particularly liked (there is a great cafe across the street Gilli and a carousel on the piazza). If I stayed in the city next time, I would be happy to stay at either of these. If you prefer larger hotels, check out the new Four Seasons property, which is supposed to be spectacular and has received rave reviews.
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