Villa La Vedetta in Florence
The very name suggests the exceptional nature of its location. Villa la Vedetta is situated beside Piazzale Michelangelo, from where it is blessed with a sublime view of the Arno River, the Church of Santa Croce, the Cathedral, Giotto’s Belltower – in effect, of the high Middle Ages and Renaissance. And in the other direction, the gentle hills of Fiesole.
Leaving Viale Michelangelo, you enter an Italian garden from where a tree-lined road leads to the entrance. The villa has an ivory and grey-toned Florentine Neo-classical facade, with wood frames handmade by the fine craftsmen of the area. Behind the villa there is a large terrace, paved in sky-blue-grey marble known as pietra serena, arranged with tables and umbrellas to create an open-air lounge, where you can relax and admire the panorama. Below is the large outdoor swimming pool with a bar and a charming wrought iron gazebo.
During the years that Florence was the capital of Italy, a major urban-planning project opened the wide avenues and created a prestigious new residential zone, designed for Italian and foreign officials. Here, over the period of about 40 years spanning the two centuries, many splendid villas were built in the Florentine Neo-classic or Liberty style, of which Villa la Vedetta is one. To this day a private home, the villa was remodelled by the architect Macci and the architect Piera Tempesti Benelli of Prato (who did the interior design), in order to re-establish the nineteenth-century style of the rooms, with the classic stucco decoration so fashionable in noble homes at the time, created by Lombard and Piedmont artisans brought to Florence by the royal court. The interior design of Villa la Vedetta harmonizes contemporary elements with the antique ones that remain like memories throughout the villa. Almost all of the materials used are Italian. The antique furniture has been chosen in a careful search throughout Italy and lovingly restored in Florence, where there are still many craftsmen with long experience in the old, traditional techniques. Today, the villa and its dépendance have been transformed into an elegant five-star luxury hotel with 18 rooms and suites.
The entire ground floor is paved with grey and beige-toned Venetian flooring with decorative marble inserts forming geometric designs. The walls are painted a warm ivory. The honey-coloured precious onyx reception desk, lit from within giving it a transparent effect, provides an unusual touch. The light from a console and a large gilded mirror gives the small hall a special glow.
The large sitting room to the left of the entrance is divided in classical style by two Ionic columns, creating a kind of theatrical stage. The upholstery of the sofas and armchairs was woven specially at the renowned Bevilacqua factory in Venice, with floral designs in soft greys with scattered touches of cherry red on a cream-coloured background. The furniture includes two nineteenth-century consoles and a group of modern sofas coupled with antique ones to create intimate corners for conversation. By way of contrast, two cubes covered with grey crocodile skin have been placed as bases for the modern abat-jours.
The stylized chandeliers are also contemporary, with Baccarat glass in the form of crystal drops. Large-sized modern paintings will also add to the environment. The sitting room on the right has an original fireplace from the period with an eighteenth-century mirror hanging above. From this sitting room, you can walk out onto the wrought iron and glass veranda – a true winter garden where breakfast will be served in the future.
The garden and swimming pool
The large garden in the back, giving onto the splendid panorama, slopes down to a natural park that is all part of the villa’s property. The pool is surrounded by a carpet of grass and a paved area with chaise lounges and tables for the small outdoor bar, which also serves meals. Should you wish to stroll, you can follow the path lined with bamboo that winds among the laurel, cypress, and olive trees, among the arbutus berry plants and irises. At various points along the way, pleasant areas have been cleared where you can sit down to relax or read on the garden seats – all in an idyllic country atmosphere. The garden is lit at night to a particularly scenic effect.The pool, looking out over the entire city of Florence, is divided into a number of levels with waterfalls, aquatic plants and an unusually large whirlpool that can accommodate 20 people.
The “Onice” Lounge & Restaurant
Two very large arched glass doors lead from the garden to the restaurant “Onice”. Beneath the barrel vault ceiling, comfortable seats and settees in elegant grey, ivory and cream satin with cherry red touches are placed around the small glass and crocodile tables. The cuisine is that of the region, which chef Stefano Santo skilfully embellishes and reinvents with original touches. The bar area is highlighted by the very light honey-coloured onyx bar on a transparent base lit from within, which juts out at the centre creating a perfect space for guests to meet and socialize. A large screen can be seen in the middle of the back wall where images are projected. Last but not least among the furnishings are the beechwood settees and small leather benches in two tones of grey arranged around the tables. And of course, there is an intriguing background of lounge music. Only a few months after its opening the restaurant has been reported in the most important Italian and foreign gastronomic guide and excellent consideration from the media, which praised its elegant setting, impeccable service and comprehensive wine list featuring mainly important Tuscan reds.
The exquisite rooms each have their own distinct arrangement and furniture. The precious walnut herringbone parquet floors are truly lovely. Each room is a different colour – golden yellow, salmon, bordeaux, green, or blue – which is repeated in the fine marble in the bathroom, the upholstery and the patinated walls, creating a very soft and elegant environment.
There are many four-poster beds. The double taffeta curtains with two distinct yet subtly matching colours add a further note of beauty to the rooms. Original antique furniture is tastefully combined with elements of contemporary design, contrasting with the onyx or glass and leather bedside tables. In some rooms there are modern desks made of glass with crocodile skin bands coupled with antique chairs; in others, the desk is antique and the chairs modern. The closets are invisible – either built-in or separate rooms. Some ceilings are vaulted. The beds are the focal point of the rooms, with impressive stuffed or draped headboards and sumptuous covers in solid-coloured velvet or embroidered taffeta, with an eiderdown covering at the foot of the bed for added softness and comfort. Finally, there are also antique benches and seats. The dépendance houses six rooms (two suites and four rooms). Here also the rooms are distinguished by their elegant colours – green, Sienna yellow and Portuguese rose. Those on the ground floor have their own small garden with outdoor furniture.
The panoramic suite
The “Bellavista” suite, the largest in the hotel, is arranged on two levels. It is located on the second floor, from where its two huge picture windows look out onto the magnificent panorama of Florence. The bedroom, sitting room and main bathroom are on the lower level, while the upper level has a study and guest bathroom. The bed’s tall headboard, covered in a heavy anthracite-coloured organza with touches of gold is truly spectacular. The bedside tables are two round tables with marble tops and glass torch-holders. The sitting room area, with its Venetian flooring, has sofas and red armchairs around a small round antique table. The closet is separate and the bathroom has marble with contrasting light and dark greys. On the upper level, there is a transparent modern desk with a small antique armchair, a sofa bed with a leather Frau armchair and a parquet floor.
Villa la Vedetta is part of the Concerto Fine Italian Hotels chain, that already comprises five 4-star hotels in Florence (Hotel Londra), in Milan (The Hub Hotel) Forte dei Marmi (Villa Roma Imperiale and Il Negresco), and Roma (Ambra Palace Hotel), and now is about to add the crème de la crème – Villa la Vedetta in Florence. All the hotels can boast the highest level of professionalism aimed at the complete satisfaction of its guests. The chain is distinguished by a warm, friendly style of hospitality that puts the client at the centre of a thousand attentions and special services, such as Travelling Ladies, Just for Kids, and Pets.