From my home in Texas to Florence, Italy, is, more or less, a 24-hour journey. When my plane touches down, all I can think about is getting to my hotel for some rest before exploring the city.
Sunday morning traffic is light and within a half hour the taxi driver has deposited me at Il Salviatino, a 15th century villa now serving as a 44-room luxury hotel.
Inside I am immediately impressed by the architectural detail, artwork, and grand staircase. My room is decorated in red and gold, and my view is of Tuscany with its rolling hills and signature spruce trees.
Historians suggest the original structure built on this site was a Roman fortress. It makes sense, with the hotel’s location high above Florence. The first recorded documents date back to the 14th century when the property was a villa.
Through the centuries, the villa was refurbished by some of Florence’s elite families, ultimately landing in the hands of the Salviati family in the 16th century.
The Salviatis undertook an enormous restoration, adding frescoes and furnishings to create a warm and inviting space for their guests. They officially named Il Salviatino. At the end of the 19th century, American Phelps Thomas purchased the property and hired artist Augusto Bruschi to add decorative works, including the beautiful fresco that can still be admired in the Affresco Suite.
At the turn of the last century, poet, journalist, and art critic Ugo Ojetti became the owner and added the library, which was visited regularly by celebrities in their fields, including Salvador Dalì and Gabriele D’Annunzio.
After Ojetti’s death, the villa was passed down to his heirs. During the '70s and '80s, it became Stanford University’s Italian headquarters. When the university left, the villa sat vacant for 20 years until it was once again renovated to bring back its 19th century splendor and opened as a hotel in 2010.
I am entranced by the hotel’s beauty and, after settling in my room, I decide to investigate the public spaces. I start with the library and its books focusing on Italian art, history, and architecture; museum-quality paintings; and vases filled with flowers grown on the property.
I wander into other rooms, admiring the attention to detail. The beautiful furnishings, original vaulted ceilings, and terracotta floors remind me of the villa’s rich history.
One young man suggests that I take in the view from the terrace, where I will later have dinner, before wandering though the ornate gardens. Laid out before me are the Brunelleschi’s Duomo and the red-roofed buildings of Florence. In closer view are the nearly 12 acres of formal gardens and park.
Stairs lead down from the terrace to the formal gardens. From here I follow a footpath to the pool and spa.
Soon I will take the shuttle into the heart of Florence. I know there will be swarms of people in the city, but right now I am enjoying the beauty of a centuries-old villa brought back to life; once again welcoming road-weary guests.
Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, Marilyn Jones was provided with accommodations for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced her review, Grit.com believes in full disclosure.
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