Among the Tuscan hills, a few minutes from Florence, a restored 15th-century villa – geometric shapes dealing with nature
In 1348, a group of seven girls and three boys decided to leave Florence, plagued by epidemic, to take refuge in Fiesole and spend their quarantine there. At the time of Covid-19 it would be nice to be able to spend the quarantine in the hills above the city of Giglio, just like in Boccaccio’s Decameron.
Florence, seen from Fiesole, seems to be embraced by the green of its hills. Immersed in the Fiesole hills, with a panoramic view of Brunelleschi’s dome, there is a 15th century villa furnished with contemporary design. The building is surrounded by a large plot of land which houses an Italian garden, an organic vegetable garden, a swimming pool and more greenery. After being the home of several Tuscan aristocratic families, an American official, Ugo Ojetti and the Italian headquarters of Stanford University, in 2010 it became a luxury hotel, the Salviatino.
The hotel is surrounded by five hectares of park. ‘The Italian Garden has been rebuilt to the way it was in 1911, when Ojetti lived here – says Viviana Anselmi, Director of Sales of Il Salviatino. It characterised by geometric shapes. The sides are framed by two pergolas decorated with climbing plants, the two fountains are surrounded by four green triangles with hedges that house roses that bloom for three seasons. The staircase is wrapped in wisteria which blooms in spring and is enchanting with its colours and aromas.’ Even the swimming pool, where guests can sunbathe and relax in the midst of the greenery of Tuscany, does not have an ordinary shape, but it is in fact on two levels.
The hotel houses forty-four rooms and suites, each characterised by a combination of local craftsmanship and technology. According to Anselmi: ‘One of the most interesting and particular rooms we have is the Affresco Suite: it is a dream-come true for art lovers, this suite embraces the quintessence of the Renaissance spirit. On its wall there is a fresco by Bruschi and features two oil canvases by Gabriel van dear Leeuw, known as ‘Il Fiammingo’. This room fuses Italy’s history with twenty-first century technology and it offers an open living space and a bathroom complete with an ancient stone bath.’
There is a room in the villa that cannot be found in any other hotel. It is the library, where more than 4000 volumes have been collected, and you can find classic novels, biographies, detective stories, encyclopaedias and many others genres in different languages. ‘All guests are fascinated by it and spend some of their time reading whilst sipping tea or one of our signature cocktails.’
Those staying at Il Salviatino can find an authentic place, surrounded by green spaces but at the same time in the immediate vicinity of one of the most beautiful cities of art in Italy. Lovers of history, wellness, and contemporary art would feel very at home here. Travellers are becoming more demanding and are looking for personalised and emotional experiences. Viviana Anselmi explains that ‘among the most sought after experiences we offer there are the wellness programs, which we like to call Tox & Detox. For example, after a wine tasting course we offer a detox treatment for the body.’ For nature-loving guests Il Salviatino offers gardening lessons in the Hortus Conclusus, an organic garden and an orchard that offers a great variety of seasonal products and native herbs from Tuscany.
The hotel kitchen is characterised by recipes and ingredients linked to the territory. Tuscany is a region rich in products that are essential for the success of the dishes offered by Il Salviatino. Locally-sourced producers are preferred, but mostly the kitchen uses vegetables, herbs and small fruits from the villa’s vegetable garden. The restaurant’s offerings are varied and run from breakfast until dinner, to give customers both the traditional dishes and the simple and fresh foods, respecting nature and the seasons. ‘The most representative recipe of our Executive Chef Silvia Grossi is the Evergreen Ravioli, made with lemon and classic pesto. It is handmade green pasta ravioli filled with fresh mascarpone, borage and lemon. It is a dish that is the expression of our cuisine, which follows the seasonality of the products and enhances our land.’
In 2016 the structure was purchased by the Rovati family, who has renovated and re-furnished all the rooms and common areas. Future plans for the new property include a new Spa with more services and waterways and a second refreshment point near the swimming pool, to offer both internal and external guests a more informal experience surrounded by the greenery. In this period the Covid-19 pandemic has stopped the world, and to keep the public interested Il Salviatino is carrying out several initiatives: ‘We are #DISTANTIMAUNITI (#SEPERATEYETUNITED) with our customers and business partners through newsletters and social media activities such as cooking lessons with our Executive Chef Silvia Grossi on our Instagram profile. We organise online webinars with travel agencies around the world presenting our offers, products and services in order to keep alive the dream of a trip to Florence to stay at the Il Salviatino.’