Its original name was "Villa Oppenheim" after Baron Gustav Oppenheim, an affluent German financier who built the property for his beloved wife. At the time, Florence was the capital of Italy and the property played center part in the privileged lives of nobles and aristocrats from Italy and beyond.
The villa was the scenery of an intense relationship between Baron Oppenheim and his beautiful wife. At some point the baron, consumed by jealousy, made arrangements to try to burn the villa down but thankfully he was convinced to change his mind just before the act.
The villa survived their marriage but was later abandoned. Eugenia, widow of Napoleon III and the next owner of the property, brought its first rebirth. She took great pleasure in throwing parties and entertaining the current aristocracy, and the property continued to be great source of admiration and desire. The name Villa Cora was given by ambassador Giuliano Cora, friend of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, who bought it in 1894.
Villa Cora’s owners invested 23 million Euros renovating the property and turning it into a hotel after it was left in a state of disrepair for 30 years. You can see, feel, smell and taste the result of this investment. And boy it was worthwhile. It deserved to be rescued and be given the life it was built to have once again. Villa Cora is a work of art in the shape of a building, a property to be shared, not to be kept hidden. Its glamorous and artistic spirit lives on through the amazing frescoes and statuary, so much of what you see has a meaning behind it. The frescoes are so outstanding that they look 3D – you don’t know the cornices are actually paintings unless you are told by the passionate and knowledgeable concierge who elegantly takes the guests for a quick tour around the hotel. You can see shadow from every part of the room which makes the work even more impressive. There is a circular hall at the centre of the house that takes you to three different rooms, when you look at the ceiling, the paintings suggest what each room was once used for: One to play music, one to play cards and board games, one to entertain and dance...
“The building is architectural poetry”
The spa is subterraneous and can be reached through a long and incredibly beautiful tunnel, the light design is perfect and the lights are switched on by motion detection.
The spa itself is a feast for the senses, it has an ‘experience shower’ where you can experience colours, smells and different temperatures at the same time. It’s exquisite. It’s intimate, whilst at the same time comfortable enough to be shared with a couple of other guests, and it’s inviting – making you want to chat and introduce yourself to strangers!
Each bedroom was individually designed, a mix of Eastern opulence and contemporary Italian design, all of them tastefully decorated and meticulously kept.
Villa Cora has a roof terrace with the most amazing views of Florence, it can be used for private dining and cocktails, it has comfortable lounges, barbecue facilities and it can only be reached by a lift, so if anyone is wants to have exclusive use of the terrace, the lift won’t stop there. You will also find the only outdoor heated pool in Florence at Villa Cora, next to Le Pool, their beautiful restaurant, a big glass room with lovely fresh flowers as ornaments.
One of the most fascinating things about Villa Cora isn’t its elegant opulence and the incredible attention to detail it was given, it’s the people behind it and the staff. They are passionate about Villa Cora, they understand its architectural value and its place in the history of Florence itself. Very few times you see the staff coming and going but when you do, it’s because somehow, they sensed you needed them.
The experience at Villa Cora is one of exclusivity, grandiosity and elegance, if you take your loved one to the hotel, expect to feel romantic even if you are not. The hotel’s walls carry so much love and passion that it will impregnate you.
Copyright- Renata Parolari Fernandes - Five Star Magazine