Hotel Torre di Bellosguardo
Originally written for Town & Country.
Set in the rolling Tuscan hills of Florence Hotel Torre di Bellosguardo offers what could arguably be described as the best views of the city. Rich in history the original tower dates back to the 13th century. It passed through various celebrated Italian families including the Medici family until 1913 when it was acquired by Baroness Marion Hornstein Franchetti whos grandson is it’s present owner.
Arrival at the hotel is via the ancient ballroom (now transformed into the reception) where above your head sit the majestic frescoes painted by Bernadino Porcetti - a favourite of the Medici family. Walk through into the Limonaia and into Bellosguardo’s staggeringly beautiful gardens. Be sure to visit the hotels impressive vegetable garden bursting with rosso lettuce, sweet peas and chard. Walk fifteen minutes through the hotels private olive groves and you will hit the city centre. You may even pass the resident donkeys on route.
With just sixteen rooms Hotel Torre di Bellosguardo offers a rare taste of luxury life in a Renaissance Florentine Villa. Each of the spacious bedrooms are individually decorated, many with frescoes hand painted onto the walls. Bathrooms are rustic but well equipped with fluffy white robes and jasmine scented products.
There is a homely charm to Torre di Bellosguaro. You’ll find no lift music or overly persistent waiters here. The hotel pride themselves on the tranquility of the space. Breakfast is served on the first floor balcony with guests left largely to their own devices and the spectacular view.
Indulge in fresh breads, pastries, local cheeses and fruit as well as sweeter cakes typical of an Italian breakfast. Tea and coffee is help yourself and you can even squeeze your own orange juice from an ancient press on the wall. Should you wish to order a cappuccino or espresso you can do so easily. Dinner is not regularly served at the hotel but if you wish to dine in there is a daily menu from which you can choose from. Just let the team know in the morning.
One would be foolish not to make the most of Florence’s food and wine. For keen wine drinkers don’t miss Volpi e l’uva, the popular neighborhood wine bar serving many excellent wines by the glass. For an evening of cheese and wine head to Il Santo Bevitore who have an extensive wine list including many low intervention and organic wines. Bread baskets come laden with crisp thin crackers, olive studded ciabatta and bouncy focaccia. All of it is baked at their very own bakery just round the corner - Santo Forno (also worth a visit). Booking is advisable and whilst waiting for your table enjoy an aperitif at their sister bar Il Santino next door.
You won’t struggle to find gelato in Florence but the best spots are the smaller gelaterias. Head to Vivoli and Perché no! for their chocolate, pistachio and nocciola (hazelnut) and if there’s still room don’t miss Gelateria della Passera for their ricotta, almond. No trip to Florence is complete without a trip to Cafe Gilli; the oldest coffee shop in Florence famous for its strong espresso and slick service. Drink your coffee like a true Italian standing at the bar. And, if time allows enjoy a slice of their Napoleon cake too; sheets of buttery crisp puff pastry layered between whipped mascarpone cream. After feasting on Florentine delights head back up the hill to Di Tore Bellosguardo and cool off in their exquisite pool.
For more of my food recommendations check out my guide for Sawdays.