Villa Sassolini

Montevarchi, Tuscany, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Emma Taylor
A 15th-century palazzo with contemporary design and gastronomic flair, set in the hills of Chianti
When we arrived in the peaceful hamlet of Moncioni, we wondered where a design hotel could be. But hidden behind plain stone walls is a very stylish find. For centuries a holiday home of Florentine nobility, Villa Sassolini has been impeccably restored by acclaimed designer Massimo Tani, known for his novel approach to everyday objects. Villa Sassolini, however, is anything but everyday. Smart, contemporary furnishings, softened with the occasional period piece and cool muted colours, have created an atmosphere of clean, understated luxury. It's a refreshing change from the many over-antiquified Tuscan villas around.

You're in the heart of Tuscany, up high and the surroundings are inspiring, with breathtaking views of the Monti del Chianti and the valley below. Dine in the intimate restaurant with its fantastic menu or grab your Guccis and soak up some rays next to the good-looking pool. You'll understand why the lucky nobility kept it to themselves for so long.

Highs

  • Stylish modern design, and not a hint of overdecoration
  • Delicious haute cuisine in the impeccably maintained gardens; and there's a wealth of fine wines on your doorstep
  • Beautiful pool (open from May to Sept) and small on-site spa
  • Tranquil, scenic location
  • Conveniently located for day trips to Florence (50km), Siena (40km), Arezzo and the designer outlet stores.

Lows

  • Don't be put off by the plain facade
  • It's principally aimed at couples, though there's one twin and an extra bed is available
  • If you are looking for a historic feel with period furniture, try somewhere else
  • A car is crucial - and be prepared for some small, winding roads

Best time to go

As with other Italian properties the very busy months are July and August when the roads around this area can get quite clogged with tourists. However, it's cooler up here in the summer than in the valley which is a relief for those hot months. It can be a little chilly earlier in the season until mid-May or so but spring time is a lovely peaceful time to visit.

Our top tips

Bring some smartish clothes for the restaurant - you'd feel out of place in scruffy day wear.

A decent road map is very useful for negotiating the smaller, winding roads in this area.

We really advise dining in - the food is superb, the wines too, and you don't have to worry about driving home afterwards.

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 12
  • Restaurant (closed Weds)
  • All ages welcome, but not ideal for kids
  • Closed: 5 Nov 2015 - 14 Mar 2016...
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Suite

Rooms

All of the stylish, minimalist bedrooms and suites are stunning and spacious, with limed floorboards, sleek wooden beds painted in pale olive green, fabrics in muted shades of cream and brown, and lots of natural textures. But there are also some individual flourishes - a delicate ceiling fresco, huge ceiling beams, an exquisitely carved cabinet...

Try to get a room at the front: they have fabulous views overlooking the pool, valley and hills (the best are the Paris Suite and the In Montagana and Marrakech Deluxe rooms). We also liked the A Caccia Suite, which has a cute side-facing Juliet balcony. Rooms at the back of the hotel are just as lovely inside, but they do face other houses in the village, and the windows are rather small - making the interiors a bit dark.

Most of the Deluxe rooms have double beds, either a four-poster or low platform; In Montagna has wide twin four-poster beds instead ('French beds'). If you don’t want to shell out for a Suite, the Marrakech Deluxe comes in at a very close second. The fantastic view and striking round window in the bathroom, makes up for the lack of bathtub. There’s also a second-floor Family Suite made up of 2 interconnecting rooms: Morocco and Indonesia.

Finally, 50m from the villa, there are 2 Classic rooms hidden in an annexe building – we haven’t viewed them yet, but their quiet setting and chic interiors are promising.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The cuisine is a highlight of any stay. The hotel holds a coveted "Quality Restaurant" badge, and builds its menus around the availability of local, seasonal produce prepared in an 'avant-garde' way. The restaurant is renowned for experimental takes on traditional Italian fare. We had a smoked swordfish and tuna starter with orange and lemon sauce, followed by delicious pear ravioli, washed down by a very reasonable (and quaffable) local wine from the top-notch wine cellar. The menu changes weekly. Meals are served in the refined and intimate restaurant with its cream-coloured slip-cover chairs and crisp linen napiery, or in summer in the stylishly lit gardens. Out of season it's very quiet; in summer it's open to the public.

If you want to venture out for dinner, be prepared for a 10-minute drive to Montevarchi; staff at the hotel will happily recommend places to eat. The hotel restaurant also serves a limited lunch during the summer months (bruschetta, pizza or sandwiches) and on Sundays the rest of the year.

The setting for breakfast is stunning – next to the pool, gazing over the Chianti hills. When we first visited, we found the buffet rather samey - croissants, cereals, yoghurt, with some obligatory cheese and ham - but on our latest visit the spread had improved to include eggs cooked as you like, and a great range of coffees. The terraced garden next to the pool is immaculately kept and cleverly planted with lavender, rosemary and roses, the scent wafting over as you sip your coffee, and watch the swallows dip in and out of the pool.

Breakfast in bed, packed lunches and 24-hour room service can be organised.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Being in the heart of Chianti, you can easily day-trip to Siena, Florence, San Gimignano, tiny Monteriggioni and dozens of other hill towns, not to mention scores of vineyards. But you will need a car...
  • The nearest town is Montevarchi (10 mins), Italy's antiques capital, with an extensive market on the 4th Sunday of every month, except July and August. There are also several designer outlets, including Prada (Space)
  • Also nearby is Coltibuono Abbey, set in atmospheric woods, with a restaurant, wine-tasting and cookery courses
  • You're only 40km from Siena and 50km from Florence - both offer world-class art and architecture, and are feasible as day trips
  • Hire a couple of mountain bikes and explore the quiet roads and villages around the hotel (be prepared for some steep lanes, though!)
  • We also liked medieval Radda (20 mins), with its armorial gateways and curving lanes leading to the Palazzo del Podesta
  • Bag a sunlounger by the pool and enjoy the calm ambience and peaceful setting, then enjoy a massage in the small on-site spa
  • Book ahead for a cookery lesson at Il Sillabo in San Giovanni Valdarno, about 10 km from Villa Sassolini; they also offer Italian language courses
  • There's not much to do in the village - it's a great place for enforced relaxation

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Not ideal for young children, as there is nothing much to keep them amused locally and the quiet, calm atmosphere might not be conducive.

Family friendly accommodation:

There is a top-floor 2-bedroom Family Suite and most rooms can hold an extra bed or baby cot.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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