Mhairi Clarke

It’s 3.30pm on a Friday afternoon and today I’m not in ScotRail carriage, travelling home after what will have been an excruciatingly busy week, with a body that is craving sleep and a nodding head that has just switched itself back on upon hearing the crack of a G&T can two seats down.

Today I’m sitting in a restaurant terrace overlooking the river Arno, watching the waters running slowly towards the rolling Chianti Rufina hills, a glass of Prosecco in hand, the golden, mellow sun shining down on my end of week face. My mind is slowly hypnotised watching the wood smoke from a nearby house drift downstream in the still air against a backdrop of endless vineyards, olive groves and Cypress trees rising towards the cloudless blue skies.

I am without a doubt, in adult fairytale land. You’d be hard pushed to find a ScotRail carriage with that description. It could well be that I just get on at the wrong time of course…

I’m staying at Villa La Massa for the weekend, a 16th century Medici villa, home to Tuscan aristocracy for hundreds of years. Sitting majestically in 20 acres of lush gardens, just five miles downstream from Florence at the gateway to the Chianti region, the hotel is perfect for a tranquil escape with easy access to the city and a variety of cultural and gastronomical experiences on your terracotta doorstep.

The hotel has 51 rooms, each one with a unique style, layout and interior, spread throughout its five Tuscan-style properties. I have a spacious double room in the newly renovated Limonaia with a private terrace overlooking the river.

The room has a colour palette that reflects the hotel’s Renaissance splendour with hues of ochre, burnt sienna, aquamarine and emerald green; the rich, vibrant colours of jewels translated into sumptuous velvets, silks and damasks, including a hand-made silk cream rug that sits on top of the rich durmast oak flooring.

The feel is luxurious and contemporary with a nod to authentic Tuscan style; a warm, charming embrace of colour and personality with a refreshing airiness which is carried through to the vast marble bathroom with its magnificent bathtub, enormous double sinks, separate wc and walk in shower room. A large basket of luxury toiletries and grooming accoutrements sits between the two sinks, two giant white fluffy robes folded in their own little grooved compartments underneath. A sprawling bed sits in the middle of the room, covered in perfectly creased 100% linen white sheets with pillows the size of clouds. My end of week self could be forgiven for just going to bed for 48 hours…

Eating is a huge part of my experience here, as you would expect. I enjoy a special truffle themed menu prepared by Chef Simone Paredi who joined the hotel from its sister hotel, Villa D’Este in Lake Como. Restaurant Il Verrochio is an elegant, refined but entirely comfortable and relaxed dining experience, made so by the charmingly attentive and genial host, restaurant manager, Paulo Micheli and his team. The exquisite menu offers a choice of both national and regional dishes. Breakfast is a buffet of fresh juices, fresh fruit, local meats and cheeses, cereals, breads, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and of course Prosecco – is there a better way to start the day?

During your stay, take a dip in the heated pool, lounge on the lawns, wander around the Iris gardens or take tranquillity to another level with a trip to the Arno Spa in the cellars of the hotel; it has a Turkish bath, sauna, Roman bath with hydromassage and sensorial showers along with a range of treatments.

The hotel’s shuttle bus will have you at the Ponte Vecchio in Florence within 20 minutes, where you can begin your exploration of culture, Renaissance art, architecture and of course some high-end shopping.

Take a trip away from the bustle of the city into the luscious, rolling green hills of the Chianti region to visit Badia A Passignano, home of an ancient Benedictine Chapel and one of the best authentic Tuscan restaurants, Ristoro L'Antica Scuderia. In Autumn, book a truffle hunting experience at the Cusona Estate, home to the ancient, noble Guicciardini Strozzi family where you’ll be accompanied by Princess Irina and her dogs Bozia and Macchia to unearth ‘nature’s gold’.

Villa La Massa offers an experience that can’t be matched. It offers the best of entirely everything – the warmest of welcomes, impeccable service, luxurious, characterful and authentic interiors, the highest level of comfort and refined ambience in the most serenely majestic surroundings.

The hotel has cultivated an environment where you can’t help but slow down and enjoy a full appreciation of the finer things in life, the surrounding countryside, the beautiful accommodation, the history of the property, the gastronomy and warmth of the hospitality around you.

Villa La Massa

Rates start from €590 (approx. £530) per room per night, based on double occupancy including breakfast

Via Della Massa 24, Candeli, Frienze


Tel +39 055 626 11