Fodor's Expert Review
Outside the walls of Florence on the Bellosguardo hill overlooking the city, Torre di Bellosguardo is a 13th-century villa that has been home to famous poets, members of the Medici family, aristocrats, and some of today’s biggest A-list celebrities. With unique, historically preserved rooms, lush gardens, a pool with the best views in town, and more, the villa is an oasis from the hectic lifestyle of the city while only being a short walk away.
Tip Check out the worn and ancient guest book upon arrival and flip through the pages of famous visitors like Emma Thompson, Daniel Day Lewis, Kate Moss, and more.
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Every room in the villa is different and you’ll find antique furniture, preserved paneled ceilings, and original frescoes. The views from some are simply epic vistas of all of Florence. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and in-room safes.
Tip Ask for a room with views of the city. You’ll wind up staring for hours at the jaw-dropping sites from the villa’s vantage point.
Like the bedrooms, no two bathrooms are the same. Typically, you’ll discover white-tiled shower/tub combos that come with La Bottega bath products and robust toiletry kits.
Make sure you look up as you enter the main ballroom/reception area. This grand foyer features priceless frescoes by the famous artist Bernardino Poccetti, whose other works can be found around the city including inside the Pitti Palace.
Tip Tour the other rooms on the main floor where you’ll find more priceless works of art, lemon trees, and outlets to the gardens.
The outdoor pool has the best view of Florence – full stop. It’s also large enough to get in some morning laps and there’s a pool bar that serves up icy cocktails and light lunches.
You Should Know The pool bar is only open from the beginning of May to the end of October.
Breakfast is served in a top floor room from 7:30-10 am and there’s an outdoor terrace with more endless views of the city. There’s not a formal restaurant in the villa, but you’ll find a menu in the lobby each night from different local restaurants that the staff can order and serve to you at the bar.
Tip The owner of the hotel offers intimate cooking classes inside her fabulous home, right on the property. Learn how to make authentic Tuscan cuisine while polishing off bottles of the villas own wine from grapes grown on the property.
The villa’s bar opens after 6 pm (when the pool bar closes) and is a small rustic nook for classic cocktails.
The gardens that surround the hotel are filled with hidden spots, interconnected ponds and streams, a vineyard, organic vegetable gardens, and the property’s pets, which include a Shetland pony, some goats, and a lot of other farm animals.
The villa is at the top of Bellosguardo hill, which is great for peace and quiet, but not totally ideal for sightseeing. There’s no shuttle to take you into the city, so you’re left to walk or hail a cab or rent a car (parking is free). The good news is that there are two ways to get down the hill that’s only a 15-minute walk. The bad news is that walking up the hill is a little tough.
There’s nothing in the immediate vicinity, but if you walk down the hill, you have to try Alla Vecchia Bettola (15-minute walk) for pure Tuscan cuisine without any fuss. Another fantastic Tuscan spot that's Michelin-rated to boot is Al Tranvai (17-minute walk) just a bit down the road from Bettola.
If you need a nightlife scene while staying at this hotel – you might be staying at the wrong hotel. But, there is one bar down the road by both restaurants mentioned above called Circolo A.S. Aurora (15-minute walk), which has decent cocktails and live music.