Fiesole, the picturesque hilly community which juts-up against Florence, is a postcard waiting to be discovered. Olive, fig and lemon trees dot the countryside as private homes and villas built hundred of years ago cascade down the slopes of the steep hills. One such villa, dating from the 15th century, has been transformed into one the best hotels in Florence – Il Salviatino.
As you leave central Florence you drive up a hill and turn into an unassuming driveway which gives way to a trail leading a half a mile through tall pine trees and manicured gardens. The villa sits proudly on top of the mountain and calls you-in to discover its splendors. I arrived at 4:00 pm on a sunny winter afternoon. I pulled-up in my car from the Santa Maria Novella train station and instantly felt at ease. The birds were chirping and church bells were ringing faintly in the distance. One of the hotel’s staff members came out to the car to welcome me and take my bags. I was served cookies and espresso and led right to my room.
Through the wide, art-filled halls, I slowly gained a sense of peace. The villa is steeped in history and you can feel that in every corner. From the small sitting rooms, the bar, the terrace and the library – you are instantly overcome with the desire to unpack, unwind and stay a while. I did just that. I explored my large room, which faced Florence below and found white candles lit in preparation of my arrival. It was romantic and, although I was traveling alone, I was okay with that.
I headed down to the library and looked through old books on Da Vinci, and Michelangelo, while admiring the art that seemed to fill every corner. It was as if I had stumbled into a museum and been invited to stay the night. As the sun began to set over the city, I retreated to my room. Its spaciousness was appreciated as I sprawled out and settled-in.
Each morning of my stay at Il Salviatino I ate breakfast in the library. A silver platter was delivered to my table filled with yogurt, fresh eggs, pastries and coffee. It was delicious. The staff at breakfast and beyond seemed to operate like a well-oiled machine. They knew how to make themselves accessible to guests but were never intrusive. I appreciated that.
Throughout my entire stay at the villa, I couldn’t help but feel at home. The comfortable luxury was exactly what I needed in that moment. Il Salviatino is the ideal setting for a quiet, luxurious and truly memorable stay in Florence – one that is hard to duplicate elsewhere.