Hotel Villa Olmi – A Peaceful Oasis Minutes from Florence
Have you ever wanted to stay in a place that is just steps from the hustle and bustle of one of the most amazing cities in the world, yet has the calming essence of a country retreat? Hotel Villa Olmi delivers just that!
This 62-room upscale property is nestled just on the outskirts of the vibrant streets of Florence in the residential suburb of Bagno a Ripoli. Surrounded by acres of lush greenery, the expansive grounds are composed of a main hotel, a historic villa and two delightful country-style homes.
To one side of this large estate is rolling hills. Another side is lined with groves of olives. The remaining land is occupied by a charming mixture of manicured lawns, wandering paths, geometric gardens and luscious flowering plants.
Aptly named after two giant elms in the garden (olmi means elm in Italian), Villa Olmi has a rich and storied history dating back to the early 1400’s.
Once a sprawling country residence for a wealthy Florentine family, the original farmhouse was destroyed in 1529 when Spanish troops laid siege to Florence.
Rebuilt not long after, the land was transferred to the Mozzi family, who also owned the most stately palazzo in all of Florence. It is likely that every visiting cardinal, ambassador and prince was hosted by the Mozzi clan.
The Mozzi family was well-known for their massive collection of great artworks, now displayed in museums around the world. It was this love of art that inspired Giulio dei Mozzi to update the property in 1781, when he commissioned artists to create stunning frescoes on the walls and ceilings. Uncovered in 2006, these incredible works of art have been restored for the guests to enjoy.
As time marched on, farming was halted on the property and the country villa was abandoned. In 1999, the estate was purchased by the Lotti family who undertook the mammoth task of restoring the buildings and land.
Using expert craftsmen employing traditional techniques, the frescoes, vaulted brick wine cellar, secret underground passage and elegant gardens were brought back to life. Now guests can wander the grounds just as they were in their 18th-century glory.
The Three Faces of Olmi
One of the things I love most about Hotel Villa Olmi is that there are three distinct properties located on the grounds: La Fattoria (the farmhouse), La Colonica (the country house) and La Villa (the historic villa). Each has a different personality and appeal.
La Fattoria (the farmhouse)
The main hotel is called La Fattoria because of its origins. But nothing about this building shouts “ordinary” farmhouse. Instead, its exterior stature is neat and understated. The terracotta and white facade belies the grandeur that lives just beyond the magnificent fountain out front.
As you enter the lobby you are instantly drawn in by the eclectic decor, garnered from the owner’s world travels. The atmosphere is elegant and classic. Plush sofas are strategically placed in multiple groupings to encourage conversation.
I marveled at the antique furnishings, intriguing artwork, interesting knick knacks and delightful statues adorning the walls and walkways.
Rich rugs cover the tiled floors, and up above, I noticed period detailing such as high arches, beamed ceilings and Murano glass chandeliers.
At one end of the lobby sits a stately grand piano. Just beyond the sweeping glass walls, I caught a glimpse of the lush gardens and sparkling swimming pool.
La Fattoria houses 33 Classic rooms, 9 Superior rooms and 5 Junior Suites. The suites have the added luxury of a kitchenette and tranquil private garden, complete with lounge chairs and a bench swing. The Tuscan-style rooms are luxurious, yet comfortable. High wood-beamed ceilings, terracotta tiled floors, fine draperies and marbled-top furnishings created a stunning first impression.
Throughout the property, I found all the modern amenities I’d expect: free Wi-Fi, daily housekeeping, satellite TV, central heating and air, minibars and 24-hour front desk staffing.
Bathrooms are well appointed with marble tile, bidet, hair dryer, magnifying mirror, heated towel rack and either a rainfall shower or jetted tub. My garden suite had a huge tub which I enjoyed soaking in after a long day of exploring.
The beds are plush and extremely comfortable. Anothplus for retreat groups or friends traveling together: the king-sized beds can be prepared as two singles.
La Villa (the historic villa)
When I stepped into the historic villa, I instantly felt as if I’d stepped back in time. This striking 18-century home boasts breathtaking examples of Patrician architecture. Dozens of Murango glass chandeliers adorn the high ceilings, while original stucco work and delightful frescoes embellish the walls.
There are 12 sleeping chambers in the villa, including six deluxe rooms, three junior suites and three suites. I loved how each one is uniquely decorated with rich linens and lavish touches.
This is an enchanting place, where I imagined ladies and gentlemen in their finest frocks dancing the night away on the expansive ballroom floor. If you’re looking for an unusual and exquisite setting for a romantic wedding or special event, look no further. And if you or your guests decide to arrive by helicopter, there’s a heliport tucked away in the corner of the property.
One of my favorite surprises was the underground tunnel that connected the villa to the farmhouse. It was originally a passage to the stables but now you’ll find statue-lined halls under a vaulted crimson brick ceiling, a small gym and several meeting rooms.
There’s also a cozy wine cellar where tastings can be arranged for you and your fellow travelers. You’ll sip some of the best Tuscan labels, paired with a variety of cured meats and cheeses.
La Colonica (the country house)
As a retreat leader, I was thrilled to discover La Colonica, two lovely Tuscan-style country homes sitting side by side in a far corner of the property. In each unit, there are four large bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and comfortable sitting areas both inside and out.
Both boast a massive kitchen, perfect for the cooking classes offered by the hotel. There’s even a pizza oven on the patio of one unit. These quiet and cozy homes can be combined into one for larger groups.
Food Fit For Royalty
In keeping with the exquisite nature of the property, the restaurant, Il Cavalierre, offers a delightful array of local favorites, paired with rare wines from the world’s best cellars.
It is obvious that Chef Francesco Lorenzini loves to experiment with food as art. Each dish was carefully prepared in a way that engaged all my senses. It not only looked almost too good to eat, but it tasted divine.
The breakfast buffet is massive. You’ll find a full espresso bar, plus traditional Italian favorites, such as sweet pastries, savory breads, fresh fruits, yogurt, granola, cheeses, tomatoes and cured meats. In addition, they serve up tourist-friendly favorites like scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes.
In order to offer guests the freshest fare possible, the restaurant abides by the philosophy of “zero kilometer”, which refers to using only local ingredients that have not traveled far after production.
The menu changes with the season and incorporates many ingredients harvested straight from the villa’s garden. This is true “farm to table” eating, a tradition familiar to Italians but a special treat to those of us visiting from the US.
There are several indoor dining areas, including a glass-walled veranda that overlooks the gardens. During the warmer months, the walls slide open so guests can dine al fresco. Tables are also set up under the vine-covered pergola, giving guests a view of the night stars twinkling above.
A Full-Service Venue
As if everything I’ve shared isn’t enough to entice you to stay at Villa Olmi, pet owners will be happy to hear that the property welcomes your furry friends at no extra charge. If you’re traveling with children and want a night on the town, they’ll arrange for a babysitter to entertain your little ones.
The hotel offers a full concierge service, including the organization of interesting tours and experiences in Florence and the Tuscan countryside. Imagine gazing down over the lush landscape in a helicopter or hugging the winding roads in a Ferrari.
For those hosting meetings or classes, the conference rooms can accommodate up to 100 attendees and has access to the latest in conference technology.
Engaged couples wanting to declare eternal love can book the small twelfth-century chapel for their vow exchange or arrange an intimate affair in the garden. Then leave it to the competent staff to arrange an elegant reception, complete with fine porcelain dishes, silver cutlery and crystal stemware. Chef Lorenzini will be happy to work with you to create the perfect menu for your special day.
Last but certainly not least is free private parking for those arriving by car. If you don’t have your own vehicle, Villa Olmi has a shuttle service that provides transportation to the Florence city center at scheduled times throughout the day. One thing to note: this service was suspended due to Covid but will resume in April 2022.
The Doors Are Open
When you’re ready to book your dream trip to Tuscany, Hotel Villa Olmi Firenze and their amazing staff are ready for you. Located at Via del Crocifisso del Lume, 18, Bagno a Ripoli, Firenze, Italy. For reservations, call +39-055-637710 or visit www.villaolmifirenze.com/en/index.php.
Linda Beach is a retreat success coach and freedom lifestyle expert. She helps passionate, travel-loving entrepreneurs build their audience and authority so they can confidently design, market and host unforgettable (and profitable) retreats and travel the world in style. As the founder and CEO of Linda Beach Coaching, Linda divides her time between Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (near her 3 grown “kids”) and traveling the world in search of incredible retreat venues. Her greatest passion is teaching others how to dust off their wildest dreams and create a life they don’t need a vacation from.
Written by: Linda Beach. To read more about Linda, go to www.lindabeachcoaching.com/
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