Villa La Massa is a stunning estate property in the Chianti hillside just outside of Florence This Tuscan paradise appeals to locals, romance-seeking couples, visiting families and those that enjoy the bustle of Florence, but want to retreat to a quiet escape after a day of touring. A free shuttle makes the five-mile ride into town several times per day stopping at the Ponte Vecchio.
Spread across five buildings along the banks of a stretch of the Arno River, the rooms and suites enjoy access to expansive gardens surrounded by trees, flowers and hillside palazzo buildings in the distance. As a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Villa La Massa achieves the highest of five-star standards and wows guests from the moment they pass through the entrance gates. It’s as if your cares and worries melt away as soon as you enter.
Leaders Club, the loyalty program for the luxury hotel group, is free to join and comes with immediate benefits like complimentary breakfast, early check-in and late checkout considerations, free Wi-Fi and possible room upgrades. You’ll also earn points during your stay that you can redeem at other Leaders Club properties whenever you wish.
From the unique and elegant guest rooms to the world-famous Italian cuisine, this 13th century estate (which is part of the Villa d’Este Hotels group) is a relaxing getaway that you won’t want to leave. Here are five of the top reasons to visit Villa La Massa in Florence.
The main building is home to 21 Renaissance-style rooms and suites with elegant decor, spacious living areas and marble bathrooms. There are four other accommodation buildings though, all within a short walking distance of each other.
Casa Colonica is a four-bedroom farmhouse from the mid-1800s that can be rented in its entirety or shared between groups of friends. It has a shared, al fresco common area with dining space and its own pizza oven. In each individual suite, there are separate living and sleeping areas, a small kitchen facility, separate bathrooms and views of the surrounding Chianti countryside.
In the Villino (which can also be rented in its entirety) and Mulino annex buildings, you’re more likely to find more contemporary décor that still weaves in traditional touches into the design. No matter which room you have, they all come with modern perks like speedy Wi-Fi (which works well by the pool, too), flat-screen cable TVs, ample power and USB outlets, and easy-to-control light switches. All of the furnishings in guest rooms showcases the hard work of local craftsmen.
Bathrooms stock a bespoke line of locally made toiletry products using natural ingredients, and the enormous marble bathrooms have drenching shower stalls, towel warmers, scales, robes and slippers.
All of the rooms have their own charm and unique view. Rooms in the Limonaia building are the most recently renovated with a modern Tuscan decor available via furnished balcony or garden terrace facing the Arno River. Repeat guests may request room 49, where you can spot Il Duomo in downtown Florence. There are also three private residences at over 3,000 square feet each, which are ideal for families or couples traveling together.
You can’t visit Italy without talking about the food, and Villa La Massa does not disappoint in this department. It starts with a decadent and beautifully presented breakfast spread each morning, included in almost all rates. You can dig into fresh berries, fruit, yogurt, focaccia and pastries as well as a daily quiche-style torte that changes daily. Eggs are made to order; the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and pickled vegetables are heavenly; and every juice, coffee or tea beverage is on hand. In perfect view of the Arno River, breakfast is a highlight here.
Il Verrocchio is the main dining room with both indoor and balcony seating areas. The evening menu is distinctly Italian with several Tuscan specialties on offer. This is paired with wine from the property’s 15th century wine cellar and olive oil produced from the property’s own olive trees.
L’Oliveto Bistrot by the pool is a casual spot for lunch, and it is now open for dinner serving pizza from its own pizza oven, freshly made pasta and focaccia, and colorful salads using the freshest local produce. Not to miss is the famous Tuscan dish “pappa al pomodoro,” which is made from bread, tomato, and basil creating a chunky stew. It’s almost like an Italian form of Spanish gazpacho, and the bistro’s recipe is one of the most delicious I have tried.
A long list of cocktails and mocktails is available at Medicean Bar, which has 19th century frescoed ceilings and bespoke furnishings. At sunset, guests can also sit on the patio overlooking the river to enjoy a drink and some nibbles.
The pool and spa
A new outdoor pool and sun terrace are the latest additions to the resort property. The former pool has been covered and become a river-facing terrace where guests can enjoy evening cocktails. With the new infinity-edge pool and splash pool for kids, guests can lounge on cushioned chairs while staffers deliver chilled still and sparkling water. Guests can order from a restaurant menu to enjoy by the pool, under a shaded terrace or in the new restaurant.
In the lower level of the main building, a substantial fitness center has the latest equipment in a stone-lined space. A fridge holds chilled water, refreshing towels and fresh fruit. A yoga expert leads classes by the pool several days a week, and a tennis club with six courts is within walking distance.
For al fresco exercise, the property’s 25 acres of gardens are perfect for a stroll or jog. Guests can also borrow city or mountain bikes to use along the trails. All along the paths are signs that provide various stretching and wellness exercises as you wander through the cypress and olive trees, herb and vegetable gardens, and iris blossoms. The hotel is a member of Grandi Giardini Italiani, an association that gives access to private villas and gardens around Tuscany.
The hotel’s spa is a relaxing retreat surrounded by stone walls and dim lights. Massage and beauty treatments are popular, but so is a soak in the steam room and whirlpool after a day of exploring Florence.
Many of the staff have been with the hotel for quite some time, and they take great pride in hospitality. On many summer evenings, live music, food events and other seasonal programming encourage guests to linger and enjoy the property. It’s not unusual for locals from the area to spend their weekends on property. As a result, the staff quickly learns guests’ personal preferences, often addressing them by name.
The concierge can organize day trips around the area, boat cruises along the Arno, and activities like cooking classes with the chef, cocktail making lessons and painting workshops.
Special events and weddings are popular here, and there is even a 16th century chapel on the grounds that can be used for ceremonies. David Bowie and Iman were married at Villa La Massa.
The attention to detail
This Medici villa is part of the larger Villa d’Este group. This means that the famed Lake Como’s reputation for top service is replicated here. Guests arrive to their room to find welcome gifts like a silver bowl with a half dozen types of fruit, Prosecco and welcome cookies. Real metal keys add to the Old World touch, which seems to be disappearing from other hotels. You can leave your key at reception when you head into town.
Turndown service arrives nightly with more glass bottles of water and chocolates. The staff replenishes towels and toiletries while preparing the beautiful linen Loro Piana linens that are ironed to perfection.
The general manager regularly roams the property chatting with guests and assuring top-notch attention to detail. This Leading Hotels of the World member is the ideal Tuscan getaway offering a countryside retreat renowned for great food and service, all within a short drive of the cultural hub of downtown Florence.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.