Sleepover: Villa La Massa
A bed for the night near Florence
Secluded in gorgeous grounds on the banks of the Arno, 15 minutes from the centre of Florence, Villa La Massa is a private world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A vast Medicean villa, dating from the 16th century, houses the main rooms and suites, and there are more rooms in two smaller villas, one of which has the large vaulted dining room, complete with a terrace by the river. Think pretty pale yellow walls with olive-green shutters. Most rooms have a view of the Arno. Each is tastefully decorated with antiques and some have original frescoes. The main villa has a vast seating area in the covered courtyard and there is an intimate bar and a games room.The staff are attentive without being intrusive.
You bet. Its claim to fame is that David Bowie and Iman celebrated their marriage here - and they know a good thing when they see it. A tiny ancient chapel in the grounds is a favourite for couples wishing to share a moment together.
The comfort factor
Divine. The crisp bed linen comes from Como and we are talking linen, not cotton. Some rooms have king-size four posters and most have small seating areas. The suites in the villa above the dining room have private terraces with views over the river, and are for those wanting extra privacy. In the main villa, beg for room 45, which is a vast former balcony, closed in with floor- to-ceiling leaded windows affording panoramic views.
Vast quantities of bespoke Firenze toiletries, miles of grey-and-white marble, a large bathtub with power shower, twin basins, impossibly thick bathrobes and an endless supply of fluffy white cotton towels.
The food and drink
Take a short stroll along the gravel pathway lined with manicured lemon bushes to the dining room. Despair not - there are little runner mats over the gravel in case you stumble in your kitten heels. The Verrochio restaurant serves a terrific buffet breakfast with eggs and side dishes to order. Dinner includes signature dishes such as tortello filled with pecorino cheese flavoured with black truffle on a bed of cannelloni bean purée, and fillets of trout with potatoes, black olives and tomato. Two courses from approx £35.There is an excellent and very long wine list.
Gucci-clad glitterati, well-heeled Euro-families with perfect children and young couples holing up for a romantic weekend.
Well, apart from the obvious delights of having Florence on your doorstep, you can indulge in designer factory outlet shopping. Villa La Massa is perfectly placed a short drive away from the Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Ferragamo outlets. Reception will point you in the right direction.
From £137 per person per night, based on two sharing, including buffet breakfast.
There is limited access for disabled people in the main villa. Children are welcome.
Villa La Massa, 50012 Firenze, Candeli. (00 39 055 62611; www.villalamassa.com).
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