Florence’s Sina Villa Medici Captivates Old-World Charm With Modern Luxury

Florence's Sina Villa Medici Captivates Old-World Charm With Modern Luxury

Set in a historic 19th Century Palazzo, Sina Villa Medici in Florence effortlessly marries old-world charm with contemporary luxury. Over the years, this beautiful property has been host to several VIP guests and aristocrats, including the renowned Tenor Luciana Pavarotti. Sabi Phagura wanted to know more, so she boarded a plane to Italy to experience the hotel and the city.

Located on the edge of historic Florence, Sina Villa Medici’s surroundings could be more inviting, but step through the doors with its cast-iron lion head knockers, and you’ll find yourself in a whole new world. The spacious and grandeur lobby with marble floors, oversized floral arrangements and fantastic antiques and paintings and I felt I had landed in the lap of luxury.

The palatial living room inside the luxurious villa

Inside Sina Villa Medici
A plethora of cosy seating areas in the building’s nooks and crannies lead to Harry’s Bar Il Giardino, complete with a piano and dining areas. The piece de le resistance, perhaps unique for a city hotel, is the curvaceous swimming pool surrounded by a charming private walled garden with a perfectly manicured lawn and lemon groves.

The brightly lit swimming pool and garden at night

The area is overlooked by balconies belonging to rooms on one side of the hotel, including mine, from where I began each day with tasty coffee.

The interior of one of the bedroom suites with its views over the garden

The villa’s 100 rooms and suites spread across four storeys are all contemporary, spacious and airy with individual subtle touches. The top-end rooms boast hot tubs and magnificent views of the vibrant city. Bathrooms are kitted out with glossy marble, a real oasis I found to freshen up after a day of exploring.

Harry’s bar (below), with its wood panelling and imposing piano, is the place to head to for pre and post-dinner drinks, including iconic cocktails and snacks.

The beautiful bar area with its black coloured grand piano

The historic brand has been on Florence’s Lungarno Vespucci since 1953, and in its almost seventy years, the international jet set has passed through it against the backdrop of Florence’s Dolce Vita. This fascinating and evocative history culminated with the opening of Harry’s Bar Firenze in 2021, overlooking the aforementioned splendid garden.

While salads, sandwiches and small Tuscan specialities can be ordered from Harry’s Bar, for something a bit more substantial, guests can head to the chandeliered dining hall or the conservatory. Both rooms are equally elegant, and there’s ample choice for both fish and meat eaters.

Vegetarian? The chef is only too happy to suggest a Tuscan gourmet experience no matter what your dietary requirements. And, of course, a selection of fine wines and Italian craft beers are available to wash down your dish of choice. While Tuscan food is healthy, there’s a fitness room as well as a Finnish sauna and Turkish bath to keep any creeping pounds at bay.

Things to do

A photograph showing the town, and the surrounding hills and countryside

Although the hotel is away from the hustle and bustle of the centre, a short 15-minute walk takes you right into the heart of it for a spot of exploring.

Florence is well known for its many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, with the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery and Opera di Firenze featuring high up on the agenda of must-see tourist attractions. But if you’re looking for something special, I highly recommend a tour of Sileno Cheloni perfumery.

Master perfumer Sileno Cheloni smelling one of his perfume creations

We had the pleasure of meeting the man himself, Master perfumer Sileno Cheloni, at his laboratory via di San Niccolò. He walked us through a sensory journey through his ‘olfactory library’, a collection of over two thousand refined essences of the rarest raw materials during his travels.

Attendees at the perfume class being educated by the master perfumer

Some were so pungent that it was difficult to comprehend they make the cut in perfumes when mixed with other materials. In its purest form, musk, which is released by animals when they want to mate, smells awful. But add it to a concoction of other ingredients, and it smells divine.

A display with 100s of perfume bottles

Cheloni told us that creating perfume is a bit like cooking, where you mix ingredients to bring out the best. “Perfume without my intervention is nothing; it is only a smell”, the enchanting Cheloni told us, adding, “Likewise, I do not feel I exist without the perfume.”

Our tour ended with an incense ceremony which had us mesmerised and floating out of the door.

Curious Appetite Food Tour
We were reawakened, though, with a street food tour by our chaperone Valeria (historical guide and sommelier) on behalf of Curious Appetite. We took our burgeoning appetite with us (or, as the Italians say, “buona forchetta”) as we opened ourselves to sampling the street foods of Florence.

Kickstarting it off with the Italian ritual of coffee and pastries, we were taken on a foodie exploration, weaving in and out of various establishments tucked away in the unlikeliest corners of the city.

We tried everything from a ‘bodini di roso’ (rice pudding in a tart) to truffle cafe Procacci to taste the famous’ panini tartufati’ paired with Franciacorta sparkling wine.

Local cold cuts and farmstead cheeses were duly devoured at a farm-to-deli experience. Unusually the son is the farmer, and the father is the one who runs the deli.

The adventurous among the group bravely tasted lampredotto sandwiches from a local street food stand. For the uninitiated, this is a typical Florentine dish made from the fourth and final stomach of cattle.

I didn’t have the stomach for it (pun intended), so I sat this one out. But any gaps I had in my belly were filled with a gelato from the historic gelateria Perchè No which has been churning ice treats since 1939.

The Italians are well versed in their love for an aperitivo pre-dinner to whet the appetite. The Latin term ‘aperire’, meaning ‘to open’, indicates that light, dry and bittersweet drinks help develop saliva to prepare for dinner. The city even hides a unique phenomenon called ‘buchette del vino’ (wine windows), which we saw on a wine tour.

They first made an appearance during the epidemic of 1630-1633, selling wine by the glass from the tiny wall holes without opening a shop, thus avoiding paying taxes. They made a resurgence during the days of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions when restaurants and bars began using them to sell products as they did 400 years ago.

New openings
The tale end of 2022 was bustling with new openings in Florence, and the trend is continuing this year. Later this month, the city will be home to La Gemma Hotel, bringing a touch of glamour to the city.

The palace, while simplistic in its architectural style, stands grandly on the via Calimala and is set within the stunning 19th-century Palazzo Paoletti. The boutique hotel is the mastermind of the Cecchi family.

One of the bedroom suites inside La Gemma

We took a sneak preview of the 5-star hotel as workmen in hard hats made the final touches to get it ready in time for the grand opening on May 25th.

The interiors, a palette of vibrant greens, powder pinks, and gentle ivories alongside bold geometric patterns, draw inspiration from its surroundings and have been created to pay homage to the city’s stunning Cathedral. References to the Art-Deco era can be noted in the handcrafted king-size beds.

A smiling Chef Paulo Airaudo sat on the end of a brown leather Chesterfield sofaThe hotel includes the cool and sophisticated first-floor gourmet restaurant LUCA led by Italian/Argentian chef Paulo Airaudo and will offer Tuscan delights. We were treated to some of these dishes from the elegant dining room, which is divided into intimate spaces by gentle arches.

An open wine cellar and handcrafted bookcases featured in one part of the room are likely to wow guests.

The area is further accentuated by a glamorous cocktail bar with its opulent chequerboard marble floor from where guests can enjoy an array of drinks, including signature cocktails that the Cecchi family has created.

Completing the La Gemma Hotel experience is the sophisticated sub-terranean spa ‘Allure’. Because let’s face it, travelling can be tiring.

Based in the historic cellars of the palace, guests can escape the humdrum of daily life with treatments by Biologique Recherche. The boutique wellness area also houses a Turkish bath, hydro-massage bath, ice shower and two therapy rooms.

Looking down onto the beautiful historic buildings

Whether you have visited Florence or not, the city is enticing for both locals and residents alike. It’s guaranteed to make you smile with its art, gelato, and of course, good food and fine wine. There’s always something new to discover, so no two trips will feel the same.

Sina Villa Medici – Where and How?

Sina Villa Medici can be found in Via Il Prato, 42, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy. To book, visit www.sinahotels.com.

If you want more information on Coral Sisk’s Curious Appetite, head to https://curiousappetitetravel.com/.

Information on La Gemma Hotel, which will open its doors on May 25th, can be found at www.lagemmahotel.com.

Read more travel reviews, guides, industry news and research here.

Florence's Sina Villa Medici Captivates Old-World Charm With Modern Luxury 2

Sabi Phagura

Deputy Online Editor

Sabi Phagura is a health, fitness, travel and lifestyle journalist with over 14 years experience in both print and broadcasting media. With Luxurious Magazine, Sabi has travelled the world and experienced some of the finest things that it has to offer. Sabi is one of our most eager and enthusiastic journalists regularly finding unique and exciting destinations. She always creates articles that showcase the subject in the best light via her wealth of knowledge in the luxury travel and dining sectors.

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