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Villa Villoresi

So where is Sesto Fiorentino? Savoring Villa Villoresi, two train stops outside Firenze

The name sounds so romantic. Sesto Fiorentino, one of the final train stops prior to arriving at the amazing Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella (another story in and of itself). Sesto Fiorentino is actually a tidy, nondescript, middle-class suburb of Florence. No reason to go there, save one very special place and its very special owner. The Villa Villoresi is an 800-year-old palazzo that has been in the Villoresi family for a mere 200 years. Over time the property, once comprised of hundreds of hectares, has been sold off and slowly encroached on by its neighbors. Today noble stone walls surround the villa, which is approached by a narrow crushed-stone drive. It’s like a medieval island in Tuscan suburbia. For 40 years the Villoresi family have welcomed guests to enter their world, to sleep in rooms with magnificent frescos, lounge on the Renaissance loggia, visit the chapel, and sip a vodka with Cristina Villoresi, the contessa who oversees the Hotel Villa Villoresi.

Florence is always on our short list of places we visit and revisit. And we always make the pilgrimage to Villa Villoresi and our friend Cristina. She is a stunning Florentine lady of great personal style. Perfectly coiffed hair swept back into a chignon, sweater sets, silk scarves, classic beauty—you get the picture. Perfect manners, gracious, generous, flirtatious and the teller of fascinating stories about her family, her life, her travels, her guests. Think a slightly restrained, more elegant Auntie Mame with an accent that is more English than Italian. Sometimes if we can’t raise a cab Cristina will pick us up at the Sesto Fiorentino station—a service that is not part of the package.

In 2009 we celebrated David’s birthday, a milestone, at VV. We sat in the formal gardens in front of the 1950s pool, amongst mature olive trees mixed with specimen orange trees in enormous terra cotta garland containers. (On our first visit to Villa Villoresi, in early spring, we’d watched workers ceremoniously roll the planters from the greenhouse into the garden.) We smoked cigarettes and had drinks and listened to Cristina apologize for the weeds in the garden.

Dinner was quiet, no fanfare, just the “usual” delicious, traditional Florentine food served by the very efficient Franco, a waiter who has been at Villa Villoresi a long time and who wears a tuxedo that appears to be the one he wore on his very first night. The hotel dining room looks a little more Tyrolean lodge than villa, a detail I’ve never questioned. The room was filled with quiet conversations of dinner guests, some staying at the hotel but many who’d made the drive from Florence to experience the cooking. After too much wine (Cristina paces herself by diluting her glass with water) and as the evening was winding down, a homemade meringue birthday cake was presented. The best dessert ever.

It’s not every day that we get to step inside the private home of an Italian contessa, touch museum-quality antiques, eat very special food and experience life in a Renaissance villa. Do not expect perfection, do not look for mod cons, look past the weeds to the roses.

Design detail:

Appreciating an earned patina, the elegance of imperfections and the authenticity of an antique property that stays full of life thanks to a very young 70-year-old contessa.


Comment from Kit Golson
Time July 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Hi Jim!

*Sigh* I think I’d like to be among all that imperfection right about now!

The luggage line is stunning! Congratulations to you and David!

Trackback from floyd
Time June 15, 2014 at 7:55 am

captivating@prosodic.takings” rel=”nofollow”>.…

tnx for info!!…

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