The Villa San Michele, Florence, Italy

A touch of Renaissance

If I were ever to buy a house in Tuscany, it would be the villa San Michele. I would leave it decorated exactly as it is now and call Architectural Digest to come and photograph it. The villa San Michele is not a home but a hotel and, before that, it was a Franciscan monastery. Located in the hills of Fiesole, it has a magical view of Florence, and its hanging gardens, verdant green and beautifully-maintained, give a note of elegant harmony to contrast the austere design.

The hotel reception was located in the former church. Michelangelo had designed the façade and, on entering, I had no idea this had originally been a church. I needed an architect’s experience to understand that, and that was mainly due to the lighting, which directed my gaze to specific locations, like the ceiling with the geometric motifs, the symmetrical arches and, lastly, to the furniture that, although heavy and of the Renaissance, did not depress me. 

Surely a designer would be better able to explain what was hidden behind the design that combined the tradition of the Renaissance with refined comfort... 

An excerpt from the book: A YEAR IN TUSCANY

Villa San Michele verandah, Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele verandah, Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele interior, Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele interior, Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele with gardens, Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele with gardens, Florence, Italy

Barbara Athanassiadis