The 15th century villa overlooks the city of Florence from its hillside home in Filsole. I flew into Milan and took a train directly to Florence where I was about to begin my Italian dream trip. The energy that filled the train station quickly morphed into an elevated sense of place as we wended our way through the city streets and approached the ancient stone wall entrance to the villa. My mind created stories as my eyes took in the lush foliage that lined the winding driveway leading up to the villa. I imagined the days when lawn parties were attended by ladies in elegant dresses, while gentlemen attended to matters of the day, clad in dapper attire. The manicured lawns were like a blanket ready for a picnic, under fir trees that appeared to scrape against the blue Tuscan sky, creating a scene befitting a painting by one of the masters.
As my car door was opened and the staff of Il Salviatino welcomed me to my home for the next few days, the portrait continued to unfold. The crunch of the gravel driveway beneath my eager feet, snapped me back into the present moment and I was able to soak in the grandeur of the villa’s entrance. This was not going to be an ordinary stay. The rich history of this space was immediately obvious. The thick patinated walls and cloistered ceilings took my breath away. Then the staff took me away, to my suite overlooking the city of Florence. I flung open my windows and took in a deep breath, as though I were taking in the tiled roofs, and pastel painted buildings that lay before me, only blocks away from the villa. I was truly living in a dream. As attentive as the staff was, they were well aware of the impact their special piece of Italy held. Every one of them was from the area and knew that their home had this touch of magic on all those who came to visit. Walking me up to my third floor accommodations, past artwork and furnishings that all had their own story to tell, could have taken an entire day, but we had things to attend to like truffle hunting.
You heard that correctly; truffle hunting.
Our truffle hunting guide and his trusty truffle sniffing dogs came to Il Salviatino and gave a lesson on truffles found in the Tuscan region, their pungency and variations, the dogs and how our lunch dish was about to be prepared with our haul. He felt very certain that we were about to embark upon a fortuitous truffle hunt and who was I to think any differently. With the villa as our backdrop, we strolled down the property’s hillside and within minutes, our youngest dog hit on the scent of an almost ripe truffle. Although not ready for the lunch table, it was an exciting find. The way it worked was the dogs would hit on a scent, we would walk up with our truffle spade and unearth the underground fungus that resemble a stunted rough-skinned potato. If you’ve never had a truffle, that may sound a bit off-putting, but trust me they are gastronomic gold. By the time our hunt was through, we had nabbed over seven gorgeous truffles from just along the hillside. What a thrilling experience! The villa was full of those though. I even tried my hand at gardening alongside the resident horticulturist whom I helped plant aubergine one morning. I think he was just being kind when he said, “Thanks for the help.” because when I looked back at his beds of edible flowers and vegetables, everything was blooming, and in an orderly row. Mine seems a bit out of line. Nonetheless, I am sure they will grow to be just as tasty. His terroir was that perfect blend of moist clay and rich dry rocky soil that must turn everyone’s thumb green (at least with envy).
The days were warm and my body craved a few hours of bathing under the Tuscan sun. The pool was calling my name. Conveniently located between the villa and the garden, tucked on the side of the hill, was the pool. Flanked by the same soft grass that captivated my attention upon arrival, I lay there for hours, soaking in the elements. There was so much more for me to explore within the villa’s walls, but for these few hours, I let my imagination lead the way. The bits of history throughout the place were really all I needed to string together my own storyline. I knew that after the pool, I would head back up to my suite and reach into the minibar that curiously read Ritz, in gold lettering, atop its high-gloss burl wood finish. I already asked the question as to its origin and the answer was every daydreamer’s fantasy. The very Parisian hotel that lady Di had visited the night of her untimely demise, The Ritz, was the former home of this piece of history. The mind wanders. Was this from her suite? Was this piece of history something more than meets the eye? I could go on, but that’s only one fascinating bit out of hundreds at Il Salviatino.
How about the sarcophagus bathtub?
Yes, it exists and it is amazing! You can even have them draw you a champagne bath in this very tub. I suggest booking this room as a couple and taking the plunge into this special “bubble bath” together. Can you imagine the stories you’ll have to tell after that? Now my imagination is running wild again. Come make your own memories here. Il Salviatino is one of the most interesting spots to stay in Florence. When I say you will be spoiled, pampered and intrigued, I am telling you the truth. Go see for yourself.